|Meeting Day||3rd Tuesday|
|Location||Castle Street Centre|
Each month we talk about a particular book. The discussion is usually led by a member who gives us a criticism of the book and invites the views of others on its key elements. Emphasis is on the content of the book, its themes, characters, credibility etc., which are considered in depth. We are all happy to give our individual opinions and the atmosphere is friendly and lively.
We have a varied selection of books, not only modern novels but also classics, biographies, poetry, even politics. Often a book will have been recommended by a member. Many are loaned free from Carlisle library and distributed at the preceding meeting or else they are easily obtainable. Unfortunately, to enable members to contribute properly to the discussion, we can have a maximum of only 12 members.
15 May - Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
19 June - This Boy by Alan Johnson
17 July - The Book Of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
Titus Groan is the first book in the Gormenghast trilogy. Set in the ancient, tumbled down castle of Gormenghast it introduces us to the Groan family, headed by gloomy Lord Sepulchrave, his unsympathetic wife Countess Gertrude and their self-centred daughter Fuschia. Don't let that description put you off for the book soon draws you in to its fantasy world and eccentric characters.
When Alan Johnson was born no-one would have predicted that he would become the holder of five cabinet posts. Born not long after the war ended he grew up in pre-gentrified North Kensington, then an area of slum landlords and unfit housing where you scavenged on the streets for coal. This autobiography also records his debt to his mother, Lily and sister, Linda.
In 1775 the American War of Independence was going badly for Britain. This led to Dunmore's Proclamation where Dunmore, the governor of Virginia, promised freedom for slaves of American revolutionaries if they joined the British forces. When the war ended many former slaves determined to leave the United States and the Book of Slaves (an actual book) details those slaves entitled to receive British aid to set up a new life in Nova Scotia. The book tells the story of Aminata, her capture and life as a slave and her later involvement with the Abolition Movement.
16th January Members' recommendations
20th February Gillespie and I by Jane Harris
20th March Stoner by John Williams
17th April Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
Our January meeting is always interesting as it is when we decide on which books to read the following year. Modern fiction, classics, biographries it is when we can suggest our personal favourites we think others will enjoy.
Gillespie and I is largely set in late nineteenth century Glasgow. Elderly Harriet Baxter looks back on her life and her friendship with the Gillespie family, especially with the artist Ned. A story that is intriguing, dark and mysterious.
A stranger looking at Stoner's life would be unlikely to call it successful. A failed son, a failed marriage, a failed affair, a failed father and an unfulfilled academic career is not what most of us want from life. Yet this heart rending story is a celebration of the importance of being true to oneself no matter what life brings.
Nora Webster is set in Wexford, Ireland in the1960's. Aged 40, Nora has been left a widow with four young children to support on too little money. As she tries to rebuild her life she is stifled by the small town attitudes of her neighbours whose curtains are definitely twitching as they try to find out her business.
19th September - Spies by Michael Frayn
17th October - Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
21st November - The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
Set during the Second World War Spies is a coming of age book full of suspense. When Keith tells his best friend Stephen that Keith's mother is a secret agent working for the Germans they naturally decide to spy on her. Boys in a world of adults, little by little they uncover her secret.
Written by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart is about pre and post -colonial life in late nineteenth century Nigeria. Set in three parts the first describes the life of fictional Okokwo, the strong, fearless leader of his village. Later parts detail the increasingly growing influence and effect of the white governors and Christianity on the community. Written in 1958 the book is considered of seminal influence on later modern African authors.
Poor old Maggie Tulliver, it seems she can't do right for doing wrong. The Mill on the Floss opens with her as a vivacious, loving child, doted on by her father but seemingly unable to conform with the expectations of polite society. As she grows older her determination to be herself will lead to tragedy. The books theme of sibling love and rejection mirror that in George Eliot's own life when her beloved brother Isaac refused to have anything further to do with her for "living in sin" with a married man.
16 May - A Spool of Blue Thread by Ann Tyler
20 Jun - The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse
18 Jul - Wise Children by Angela Carter
A Spool of Blue Thread is a story about three generations of the Whitshanks family; the things that unite them and certain long-held secrets. It is a funny, emotional and realistic portrayal of family life by a deservedly popular author.
Who wants their spine chilled? The Taxidermist's Daughter is a spooky mystery tale. Although set in the early twentieth century the Sussex marshes is the sort of place where old superstitions linger. The villagers meet at the church on the night when the ghosts of those who will die in the following year are thought to walk. As the bell tolls a woman is garrotted. Who is the killer and what secrets will her murder reveal?
"It's a wise child that knows its own father" goes the saying and it's certainly true in The Wise Children. Twins Dora and Nora are celebrating their seventy-fifth birthday on 23rd April, which, as you know, was also Shakespeare's birthday. Dora reminisces about their lives and she has quite a story to tell. Illegitimacy and incest are set against a background of acting and song and dance. With all its intricacies and deceptions you could call it a modern day Shakespearean story and like his comedies it also manages to be light hearted and full of energy
No meeting in August