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Thanks Ruth for fabulous hosting on 15th, and also thanks for excellent book choice!  1984 was dark but had some scarily believable elements in this world of fake news and history revision.  We felt sorry for and frustrated by Winston who seemed to accept his fate in the end, and wondered if Julia had known more than she was letting on?  Although futuristic, the book also felt like a product of its time, written just after WWII with echoes of the German state and its network of informers, and reflecting the everyday hardships and poverty affecting most ordinary people.  This also contrasted with the wealth and comfort enjoyed by O’Brien and the ‘establishment’.  Room 101 was indeed pretty scary, although some of the worst elements were only hinted at rather than spelled out, perhaps making it even more chilling?  Overall great choice, and looking forward to seeing it on stage next year!

Next months:

Sunday 12th November – please note change of date!!

Nightwood by Djuna Barnes


Friday 8th December

The Bell by Iris Murdoch


See you all there!


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Mark Harvey (@Mwharvey)
Amelia Earhart Social Worker oh and pioneer, role model, world renowned pilot & explorer. #foundationsofSW #IWD2017 pic.twitter.com/heCED7BIDY

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Thanks Candida for a lovely meeting on Friday to discuss Silas Marner

we really enjoyed the book and found a lot to like in Silas’ story, but also the interlinked stories of Godfrey and Dunsey, and the appearance of Eppie in Silas’ otherwise small and insular life.  The villagers were brilliantly described, particularly in The Rainbow when they talked of the same things night after night, and all knew what cues to give to hear the stories they were expecting.  The story also included some interesting social history, the relative wealth given the price of grain during the Napoleonic wars, and the beginning of industrialisation, as well as containing some themes which would have been shocking at the time such as Molly’s opium addiction. We were all happy that Dunsey got what was coming to him, and that Silas stood up for himself to Godfrey, and if the ending was a bit over happy and neat for some of us, perhaps that’s just our jaded 2016 view of the world.

As I’ve been a bit tardy on this I’ll also say that Fahrenheit 451 was another hit with us all, a breathless immediate story with some amazingly accurate depictions of a future world, the rise of reality TV, ear shells and over size advertising and screens, all foreseen from 60 years ago!  The human elements were also really well done, with Montags wife’s depression due to the emptiness of her life feeling very real.  A shame that Clarisse disappeared from the story so soon, and later adaptations such as the film in fact bring her back at the end .  But absolutely fascinating and a really compelling and interesting story.

Details for next time:

Friday 14 October — The Wings of the Dove by Henry James

Friday 11 November — New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani


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Thanks all for coming round for a fine book club, and special thanks to those of you who had commuted a bit further than usual for book club – it was great to see you again and like you’d never left!

So Jesse’s choice turned out to be rather a hit with almost everyone (yes, I know!).  The short stories were an absurd satire on a whole range of subjects, including war, diversity and relationships.  Some worked better than others – the title story, The 400 pound CEO, and the story about downloadable memories were all particularly good.  There was a grotesque and painful truth in a lot of the writing, which was really well done and managed to make even the shortest of stories a satisfying read.  The last story was liked least, perhaps because of the unremitting pain and bleakness, but still a wonderful book with many many jokes.  One dissenting book clubber really disliked it and struggled to get very far – but the rest of us were big fans.  Nice one George.

Next time your reading has been chosen by Alice:  On the Move by Oliver Sacks, we meet again Friday 8th July.

Then August’s reading is: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


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It’s the Stoke Newington Literary festival this weekend:

I’m going to see Thomas Keneally on Saturday @4pm and David Mitchell on Sunday @6pm if anyone fancies joining me.

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Thanks Steve for hosting a fine evening the other week.

We had a whole range of views on Sheila’s ponderings on how she should be – loved it, hated it, and everything in between.

Although some of the book could be a bit hard going reading about the self-obsessed youth of Toronto, Sheila’s self-reflection and desire to try and change herself ultimately proved successful as she left an unhappy marriage and got herself into but also out of a very controlling and destructive relationship.  Some of the writing could be moving, passages we particularly enjoyed were the letter from her mother in law following the breakdown of her marriage, and the section set in a Jewish shop in New York.  It was something completely different to any other recent reads, nice to have a contemporary change. I thought I would hate it but in fact did not, and definitely found some interest and literary merit in there.

Next times:

Friday 17th June – Civilwarland in bad decline by George Saunders

Friday 8th July – On the move by Oliver Sacks

And a reminder that Rachel is starring in Romeo and Juliet at Theatro Technis this week, or in Paris in June – let her or Ruth know if you want a ticket!

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Thanks all for coming round last Friday for a slightly chaotic book club, and welcome back to some members not spotted at book club for many a month.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle was a dark gothic comedy which sparked a lot of discussion and questions which were hotly debated.  Was Constance quite as innocent in the family’s deaths as we thought, or did she encourage or even conspire with Merricat?  Was Uncle Julian talking more sense than it seemed?  Was Constance really planning to marry Charles?  And had Merricat in fact died during the trial and come back as a ghost?  Lots of lovely writing, wonderful focus on food and the kitchen, and a fabulous description of the house and atmosphere.  Also, an interesting interlude with the ‘riot’ and mob on the night of the fire, and the villagers’ apologies in the aftermath.  Overall, really interesting, especially as the author had a very troubled life herself but could still write such an intriguing book.

Ruth also advertised the play she is in: Frozen at Theatro Technis in Camden, towards the end of April.  Please note this is not about Disney princesses.  Some of us are planning to go on Saturday 23rd so let us know if you want to come too.

Details for next time:

Friday 8th April — Impatience of the Heart or Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig (same book, different title)

Friday 13th May — How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti

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