The Book Club continues to share its views and opinions by email and Zoom meeting held on the first Monday of the month. Although we all enjoy the written reviews sent out by members, it is not quite the same as the spontaneous banter previously enjoyed at our meetings in the library. The good news is that following the partial re-opening of the Eastwood Library, they will be able to resume the collection and issue of selected books after 14th August, although meetings will still not be allowed. This will no doubt come as a relief to our members who have been finding the task of recommending an individual choice for the monthly read an onerous one.
Reviews of two of our recently read books:
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
Set in Loch Corrin in Scotland, an exclusive Highland Wilderness Resort of 50,000 acres and an hour’s drive to the nearest railway station. The resort, run by Heather and Doug, both characters escaping from a trauma in their past, is so exclusive it only takes 4 parties a year. The action takes place over a wintry, snowy, New Year’s break.
The book is written in the style of Agatha Christie. A group of friends, connected by the fact that most of them were at Oxford together, most of the characters have a motive to kill the victim and the killer turns out to be one of the least likely personalities. There is an ongoing theme of continuing friendship, which makes one wonder why people who no longer seem to even like each other would meet up yearly for a holiday.
A gripping murder mystery cleverly constructed. There are multiple narratives and dual timelines in the story. Each chapter is narrated by one of the protagonists, dropping clues on the way as to what is going to happen. We know that there is going to be a murder and by the actions of the characters we soon get to guess who this is going to be. We get an insight into past events and there is a gradually unfolding picture of the characters, many of whom have very few redeeming features. There is a feeling that the reader is gradually being teased by the author.
It is fast paced, atmospheric and easy to read and I would give it 8/10 . Pauline
The Image of You; I thought I knew you but you’re a liar by Adele Parks
It is not the sort of book I normally choose, but that is one of the reasons I like the U3A Book Club. It started reasonably well and had a fantastic twist at the end, but I found the middle part very stodgy. The story revolves around identical twin girls and their relationship with each other and with partners and family. The twins appear to have polar opposite personalities and interests, less common than ones who have similar personalities and interests. Other themes of the book appear to be honesty and loyalty within relationships and internet dating as compared to other forms of starting a relationship.
I probably would rate this book as 5/10 because of the rather stodgy middle, although the ending rated higher. Jane
Two other books recommended by members at our last meeting are The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
Stay Safe and hope you enjoy these recommendations.
The Book Group is still functioning, albeit slightly differently, with members sharing their reviews by email. April was the last month when we were able to source our book from the Library, so in the future we hope to turn to the internet to download the new read, the choice being made in turn by individual members.
For those of you who are turning to books to help pass the time through lockdown, we thought you mighty like to try the following recently read books. A brief synopsis of each is given below by our members.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
I was delighted to reread this book, which is a real favourite. Anne Elliott is given a second chance at happiness after rejecting a seemingly unsuitable suitor in her youth. The book brilliantly maps the reawakening of interest between the principal characters and cleverly throws in enough barriers that they must overcome. The descriptions of Regency Bath and Lyme are very evocative and Austen uses all her usual wit to make sharp comments about the behaviour and motivation of all her wide and varied cast of characters. Score 10/10 Janet
The Hundred-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
As a young man Allan Karlsson had worked in a dynamite factory and his expertise took him all over the world meeting and befriending many famous people. On his return to Sweden he ‘adopts’ a cat who unfortunately is killed by a fox. So incensed by this Allan sets a trap with dynamite which results in a huge explosion. Eventually he is sent to a Retirement Home which he hates, so on his 100th birthday he decides to escape and go on a journey of intrigue and misadventures and also gets caught up in so many various “criminal activities”. Unbelievably funny, yet sad at times.
I rated it 7/10 and think it’s worth a read. It was also made into a film which I didn’t think was as good as the book. Dee
The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean Pendziwol.
This was a wonderful book, very well written and engaging on many levels. As the story unfolded, the unexpected layers of complexity, together with the wonderful narrative wove a rich pattern, that was very pleasing. In many ways it is a story of love, loss, secrets and intuition. I loved it so much I would rate it 10/10. My husband also read it and loved it as well. Jane
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.
Ove is a ‘grumpy old man’ who, after the loss of his beloved wife Sonja, feels life is not worth living. His attempts at suicide are thwarted (often hilariously) by his neighbours seeking help. This assistance, initially begrudgingly given, helps to him to overcome his loneliness and develop a very diverse new circle of friends. Poignant, uplifting and very, very funny. 10/10. Sue
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri.
This book is a family Saga, which starts in the exotic setting of Calcutta, beautifully described by the author, with descriptive passages describing water hyacinths, and egrets, creatures burying themselves in mud, an atmospheric beginning.
A tale of two brothers who looked alike but were so different in character and personality; Subhash older and more responsible, conformist and conventional; Udayan mercurial, unconventional, a gifted physicist. He is horrified by the injustice doled out to people living at subsistence level, and he joins an activist group called the Naxalites, becoming a bomb maker, with a tragic outcome. The scene then shifts to the USA, when Subhash moves to Rhode Island to complete his studies.
The book highlights the perceptions of women in different cultures and shows how religious beliefs can influence behaviour. I found the book compelling reading, particularly enjoying the descriptive passages of the places where the novel was set. I would give it 7.5 out of 10. The reason for the score not being higher was that I found some of the characters difficult to warm to. Pauline
Best wishes to all and stay safe