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Literary Studies

Meeting Details

Meeting Day3rd Friday
Time2.00 (1.45 Tea/Coffee)
LocationCastle Street Centre
Co-ordinator(s)Clare Courtier

What we do

As a group we plan a programme of reading for up to about a year in advance. For each meeting a member introduces the chosen work, and this is followed by a discussion. The books we choose are mainly novels, both classic and modern, but, for variety, we may include a play, a selection of poetry, and/or a biography. We also have regular 'Own Choice' sessions at which members have an opportunity to discuss any book which has interested them.

We are not just a 'reading group'. We like to look in some depth at various aspects of the work in question, such as: How is it structured? What themes are explored? Is the description effective? Are the characters believable?

This is a friendly group and would appeal to anyone with a love of reading and lively discussion. We usually gather a few minutes before 2 pm and begin each meeting with tea/coffee and biscuits.

We try to keep down cost by borrowing sets of books from the County Library service, and by buying cheap, paperback editions.


May 2018

20th April The Behaviour of Moths, by Poppy Adams

18th May The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway

15th June The Hare with Amber Eyes, by Edmund de Waal

20th July A God in Ruins, by Kate Atkinson

At the meeting in January we voted for the book that we had read in 2017 which we considered to be the “Best Read” of the year. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lawrence by Maggie O’Farrell received the most votes, but every book was voted for by at least one person. Although it is rare to discuss a book that everyone has enjoyed, most people conclude that they are pleased that they did read it and, after the discussion, it has even been said that they now view it in a different light and may return to read it again.

November 2017

2018 Meetings:

January 16th Own Choice

February 16th Walking Away, by Simon Armitage

March 16th Americana, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

April 20th Behaviour of Moths, by Poppy Adams

We have been reading long books about distant countries, cultures and characters with unrecognisable names for much of the second half of this year, finishing with Dr Zhivago in November. Therefore I will not be surprised if people come to the January meeting wanting to talk to the group about books dealing with matters closer to home. In February we will stick to our shores with Simon Armitage walking the SW coastal path, and then I am sure we will be ready to be challenged again and branch out into less familiar territory.

July 2017

15 Sep - The Calligrapher’s Daughter by Eugenia Kim

20 Oct - The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh

17 Nov - Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

Discussing ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ in June, the members of the group were all captivated by the storytelling skill and compassionate intelligence of Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, the young Nigerian writer, who wrote this story of a group of people living in Nigeria in the 1960s when civil war erupted. It is unusual for us to read books by the same author in consecutive years but we hope to read another of her books in 2018. 

March 2017

21 Apr - The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox - Maggie O’Farrell

19 May - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce

16 June - Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

21 July - The White Woman on the Green Bicycle - Monique Roffey

This year, by chance, we started with three books, The Bell Jar, The Surgeon of Crowthorne and The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, which are all very different but all concern the nature of madness and the purpose of mental institutions. Although this has provided plenty of scope for ‘compare and contrast’ discussion, it is probably a good thing that we move on to other subjects for the rest of the year.

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