We are all back after the Summer Break we give ourselves, to allow for holidays, trips away, school holidays, naming ceremonies, bad knees and all the other things that happen over the summer. We were all gathered and we had two books to talk about.
Two very different books. So with all the catch up done, we started with The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen. This book did not sit well with many of us. Out of the 7 of us. 2 had not read it. 4 had and 1 had tried but really struggled. I did advise the 50 page rule for L, she persevered past that but did not think she would finish it. We discussed the reason why – was it the story told in the voice of a child? Was it because we did not know exactly where it was set? Or the time period it was set in? Or the actual religion which was the core of the book?
One of our exclusive group, C had experience of being a JW growing up and she really related to the book and it awoke memories in her and she could relate to something of the story. How religion becomes so all-consuming and overwhelming. W and I remember hiding when they came knocking to the door. K and I found it rather sad and was really moved by the bullying which Judith suffered but also how her father coped with the bullying which seemed to escape from the school and end up at their door. This encompassing with him being a ‘scab’ during a strike added to this. L having not read it, decided having gone through some the passages, that it was not for her.
The questions were rather deep and meaningful for discussion and we skirted round them all. We felt for Judith’s father who obviously realised that the life of Judith was a constant reminder of his wife’s death. And that her belief was so strong that she was prepared to die for it. He was struggling with this let along trying to bring up a daughter. It was all rather grey and a bleak book we decided. The book needed more colour but to do so would have detracted away from the plot obviously, I wanted to see the land that had been created out of all this detritus, it may have helped with the novel. The glimpses of humour in the novel with the fellow worshippers who knitted some rather interesting outfits for Judith along with the lady next door who seemed to be a light in a very dark world were picked up by us all. We all agreed that we wanted to know more about the teacher who reached out to Judith and seemed to bring hope. The loose ending that was not tied up.
To aid discussion I showed some of the various book covers there have been for the book. All three very different as you can see.
The top cover was the one most of us had and we all thought we were going to get a completely different novel from the one we got. Something violent and abusive, something not very nice and similar to Room which we had previously read. What do these three covers say to you about what is inside the book? All something very difficult. This was a book which none of us would say ‘you must read this book’. We would not actively encourage reading of it, but that does not detract from the clever writing of this début novel.
On with the second book Before I Go To Sleep – S J Watson which was much more of a success and one that all but 2 again (the same 2) had read. And read very quickly too. The challenge though – could we convince the other 2 to read the book without actually giving anything about the book away in discussion.
K loved the book and she does not like nasty books and we were not sure whether she would like this, especially S who recommended it. Luckily she absolutely loved it and was really rooting for Christine from the first page. It is clever novel and we all agreed it was a page turner.
L and I had doubts about Dr Nash. But C and K never gave him a second thought, But we all thought Dr Nash was only looking for something that was going to make his name for his career. We wondered if perhaps Christine was becoming a bit of a burden for him.
Then we reached the point in the book when there is no going back and everything slots into place. Oh it made us all hold our breath. Even talking about it again. I hope we did not give anything away to those who had not read it?
So then talk must come about the film – K was beyond excited at this point! With the aid of W and her iPad who looked up the details (what did we do before those) Not sure of its release in the UK, but it is Nicole Kidman as Christine and also starring Mark Strong and Colin Firth, although not sure who is meant to be who. Further research says Colin Firth is Ben, Mark Strong is Dr Nash. But is it all it seems I wonder?
Think there is going to be a cinema trip to see this film when it comes out – but will it be as good as the book? And I wonder what will be cut out?
So another book club comes to an end. With distribution of books, more chatter and glasses of wine and canapés thanks to K we all went on our way with plenty to read for the next couple of months.
So we have book 17 and 18 ready to go and it is up to L to choose book 19. K is scared, we all are I think, it is because we know the sorts of books L likes to read!