We were reading Phil Rickman’s The Bones of Avalon. It tells the story of John Dee, Elizabeth 1’s astrologer and adviser who is sent on a mission to Glastonbury to ascertain the whereabouts of King Arthur’s bones. I suppose we’d have to give it 2 out of 10 as only 2 of us liked it! The other 8 were not impressed. Several people made the point that C. J. Sansom sets his books in a similar time and deals with similar issues but does it better. Still, if you like your historical fiction with a supernatural edge, this could be the book for you.
“Although this wasn’t the sort of book I usually enjoy, I was intrigued by it and couldn’t wait to see what happened. I like the fact that the book was about John Dee’s character and the emotional journey he goes through as well as being about the plot against Elizabeth. I was disappointed in Dudley.”
“It was rubbish! I only made it through one and a half discs.”
“I’ve read other books by Phil Rickman. I enjoyed this one but it wasn’t his best.”
“There was too much swearing and it somehow didn’t sit well.”
- C J Sansom Shardlake series.
- Karen Campbell Proof of Life
- Emma Blair Wild Strawberries
- Michael Connolly Reversal
In December, Partick joined up with another book group. When we discovered that Anniesland and Partick groups were both reading The Help, we decided to meet up – and have a joint discussion over a cup of tea and a mince pie.
The Anniesland group is a sighted group and they had read the paperback, so there was some talk about the different experience of reading and listening – most of the sighted readers admitted to skipping the odd bit of description and we wondered whether listening might give a more complete experience. The Partick members explained how, for them, the narrator makes or breaks a book.
And what did we think of The Help? Here are some of the members’ comments:
“Painful to read”
“A bit simplistic in that they all lived happily ever after”
“Very well written – with a lightness of touch”
“Good to read the women’s point of view”
“Lots of layers in the book”
The Help turned out to be one of that small category of books: one that everyone enjoyed. When we wondered which other books found favour with the whole group, Anniesland suggested The Cellist of Sarajevo (Steven Galloway) while Partick came up with Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Big Country and The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (Maggie O’Farrell).
Our last book of 2011 was The Forgotten Highlander by Alistair Urquhart.
Everyone who read it enjoyed it though “enjoyed” is not really the right word to use. There was a great deal of discussion about this book and the tone of discussion was unusually serious. Mr Urquhart faced huge hardship during his time as a POW held by the Japanese during the Second World War. We all felt humbled by his tenacity and strength of character. This book more than any other had a profound effect on the group, several of whom had close relatives who had had similar experiences to Mr Urquhart. Younger members of the group found the book moving too and saw it as an insight into an aspect of the Second World War that is often forgotten.
“I read it twice. There was so much detail I felt I had to read it again to do it justice.”
“It’s hard to believe that human beings could treat each other like that.”
“To be honest, I couldn’t read it. It reminded me too much of my father and what he suffered during the war.”
“There was too much trivia!”
“Yes, but isn’t that just like life?”
From the discussion of One Day by David Nicholls
The Falkirk group meets at the Forth Valley Sensory Centre on the third Tuesday of every month.
There are ten of us, as well as three dogs.
The group has been going for over a year now so we have covered quite a few of the Virgil titles. There has never been an occasion when absolutely everyone liked a book but some favourites so far have been Sovereign by C. J. Sansom, The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason.
The group has been to Aye Write! and had tea with Candia McWilliams, attended the Edinburgh Book Festival and dined at Valvona and Crolla and recently schmoozed with Ian Rankin at the Stirling Book Festival.
Future plans involve doing it all again next year and surviving the Christmas Party.
For more information please contact Morag Wilson at Falkirk Library on 01324 503605 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We were lucky enough to be reading One Day in March when it was topical as one of the books chosen for World Book Night. It provoked a lively discussion – some people were offended by the bad language and references to drug taking; here are some of the positive comments:
Ann: I really, really enjoyed it. I thought it was really good. The best book I’ve ever listened to, definitely.
Kriss: Well, I really do appreciate the fact that we have these books early. You know, you sometimes…you used to get these old outdated novels…but this is current and they’re making a movie of it and we hear it being discussed on BBC 4, so we appreciate the fact that we’re currently reading something that is of value to us, that we can relate to.
Ann: I really loved it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I’m really impressed that we got it so quickly when it is, like Kriss said, it’s out there and everybody’s talking about it. And we can join in now because we’ll have read the book ourselves. I think that if we were buying it, it would be very, very expensive. We probably couldn’t afford it so being able to get it through the library was really, really good. The best book that I’ve read in a long time.