Warwick Books Book Group
May 21st, 2015
We met at the Punchbowl in on Wednesday April 15th to talk about Tan Twan Eng’s book, “The Garden of Evening Mists”. Everyone agreed that it was a good choice, with much to talk about and think about. The book moves forwards and backwards through time, starting with the retirement of Judge Teoh or Yun Ling as we come to know her through the story. She is retiring early because she is suffering from Aphasia, so her memory is gradually failing. She looks back on her life, and in particular her apprenticeship after the war to Aritomo, a Japanese creator of gardens reputed to have once been the gardener to the Emperor of Japan. Yun Ling herself was imprisoned by the Japanese, and was the sole survivor of the camp where she was interred. Her sister, a lover of gardens, died in the camp, so Yun Ling sets out to create a traditional Japanese style garden in memory of her sister, and Aritomo, having refused to design the garden for her, agrees to help her learn so that she can create a garden herself.
As the story progresses, we learn more about the Prisoner of War camp and how the Malayan civilians were treated, A nother character is a South African, Max who hates the British and lost an eye in the Boer War. He is killed trying to save his family while fleeing from the communist guerrillas. The book builds a picture of the beauty of Malaya as well as describing its turbulent history.
Much to discuss and certainly a book to recommend.
All the meetings will be in the Old Punchbowl Inn and they start just after 6.00pm. We have a discussion about the book we have read and other books we are enjoying. The meetings usually last for about an hour and we are looking for new members, so come along and join in even if you haven’t read the chosen book. Call into Warwick Books for details…..
Warwick Books Book Group
March 31st, 2015
We met on Wednesday 7th January and received our usual warm welcome from the ladies at “The Punchbowl Inn” on Barrack Street. We had read Beryl Bainbridge’s “An Awfully Big Adventure”. Typically of Bainbridge’s work this is set in post second world war Liverpool. It is 1950 and sixteen year old Stella is encouraged by her doting Uncle Vernon to join the local repertory group as the academic demands of school seem to be too much for her.
Stella seems to be a very self-possessed and articulate young lady, but inwardly she is also immature. Eager to learn and with no little talent, she is soon a valued part of the Company. Half in love with the obnoxious Meredith she also catches the eye of the established actor O’Hara.
The larger than life characters involved in a small local rep and the rather gloomy aspect of Liverpool in the 1950s are brilliantly portrayed. Sue found the cloying, small-minded atmosphere too well done and found this rather sad story completely depressing. It is, however, well written, well constructed, very much of its time. I would recommend it!
We have chosen titles for the next few months.
The February meeting will be on Wednesday 11th when we will be discussing Val McDermid’s “Northanger Abbey” The Jane Austen Society have approached various modern authors including Joanna Trollope and Alexander McCall Smith to bring six of Austen’s work up to date. This version of Northanger Abbey is set in Edinburgh during the Festival.
On March 11th we will be discussing Karen Joy Fowler’s best seller, “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves” This was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker prize
April’s meeting will be held on 15th when we will discuss “The Garden of Evening Mists” by Tan Twan Eng. Set in Malaya after the brutal occupation by Japan, this is one of our best selling books.
All the meetings will be in the Old Punchbowl Inn and they start just after 6.00pm. We have a discussion about the book we have read and other books we are enjoying. The meetings usually last for about an hour and we are looking for new members, so come along and join in even if you haven’t read the book.
Warwick Books Book Group
December 17th, 2014
We met at the Old Punch Bowl Inn on Wednesday November 5th at just after 6.00. This time, mainly due to illness, we were a very small band, but nevertheless had an interesting discussion.
the book we had read was Khaled Hosseini’s “And the Mountains Echoed”
This book seems at first a collection of individual short stories, but as it develops, the stories begin to weave together. We start off with a father and his two small children walking from their rural village in Afghanistan across miles of tedious landscape to Kabul. Usually a very taciturn man, the father weaves magical stories to help pass the long journey. What neither of the children, Abdullah or Pari realise is that the journey will change the destiny of both of them in a very profound way.
Each chapter concentrates on part of the story of each of the individuals in the narrative. The chapters also range across time and it takes quite a while before a glimpse of the whole story becomes visible. There are many characters and some readers found this rather confusing. We all felt that the first part of the book was much stronger than the second part and there were some details which were not really necessary to the whole. This was a small criticism, though as Hosseini is a master story teller. He uses beautiful language and draws memorable characters. The smells and dust of the desert, the sudden colours of gardens within compounds, the cruelty and the love among family members, all of these add to the magic of his writing. Definitely one to recommend.
Next month we are discussing Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Small Island” The meeting will be held on Wednesday 3rd December. We would like to repeat last year’s December meeting’s theme of Christmas and have a meal at the Punch Bowl after the meeting. To give them an idea of numbers could everyone interested please e-mail us (firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible.
Enjoy Bill Bryson’s view of England and the English from the 1970s onwards. Who doesn’t remember dragon-like seaside landladies (the stories about them even if we didn’t actually meet any), the turmoil of the three day week and trains with proper meals available. Looked at from the perspective of one who supposedly shares a language but certainly not a culture, the reader is drawn to the charm of Britain which many of us overlook.
Kenilworth Books Book Club
September 27th, 2014
Meets at the Virgin and Castle Pub, High Street, Kenilworth,
4th Tuesday of every month 7.30 p.m. till about 9.30 p.m.
23rd Sept: I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing (Maya Angelou)
All the Pretty Horses (Cormac McCarthy)
28th Oct: A h (Eric Newby)
Flight Behaviour (Barbara Kingsolver)
25th Nov: An Awfully Big Adventure (Beryl Bainbridge)
The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat
16th Dec: A Child’s Christmas in Wales (Dylan Thomas)
We are an informal and friendly group. Do come along and join us! Ring/text Victoria Lee on 0791 3369274, or Kenilworth Books on 01926 855784 or see www.warwickbooks.net for more information.
Warwick Books Book Group
September 15th, 2014
We met at the Old Punch Bowl Inn in Warwick on Wednesday 2nd September. The book under discussion was “Cider With Rosie” by Laurie Lee. Coincidentally “The Times” that day ran an article about the countryside where the book is set, which is now under threat. Laurie Lee’s family are working hard to protect the area so evocatively remembered in his book.
At the start of the discussion, most members of the group said they didn’t particularly like the book. The language is too flowery, some people didn’t like the characters, etc etc but as we discussed it, everybody picked out their favourite bits, descriptions of characters such as Lee’s mother and the vividness of the clandestine meeting with Rosie to drink illicit cider, the beauty of the descriptions of the landscape etc. In the end we all decided we had enjoyed it after all, and would definitely recommend the book to a friend!
The next meeting will be on Wednesday 1st October when we will be discussing “Restless” by William Boyd – a thrilling spy story.
On Wednesday 5th November we will be discussing Hosseini’s lyrical collection
of linked short stories “And the Mountain’s Echoed”.
One of the group brought along to the meeting a book by Bill Bryson, and quite
a few of the group confessed to never having read any of his books, so our
December read is the very funny “Notes from a Small Island”. This book follows
Bryson’s insightful journey round Britain describing us from an outsider’s
point of view. Written in the early years of his British experience, this is a
good start for anyone who hasn’t read any of his books before.
Another author who was mentioned and not many of us had read was Beryl
Bainbridge so we have chosen “An Awfully Big Adventure” for our January read.
The meeting will be on Wednesday January 7th