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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.


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.

November 2016

2017 Meetings

20 Jan - Own Choice

17 Feb - The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

17 Mar - The Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester

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

The last book that we will read in 2016 will be ‘Birds Without Wings’ by Louis de Bernieres. Its story, of peaceful lives rent apart by nationalism and religion, seems so familiar to what is happening in our time that it is sure to trigger a lively discussion. Next year’s books also look an excellent mixture of style and content.

Unfortunately, with 18 active members, we cannot welcome anyone new at the present.

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