|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.
This meeting is when we each recommend a book we think others would like to read. Books available from Carlisle can be found at www.cumbriacc.gov.uk/libraries/readinggroups
Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
This is the second part of Mantel's trilogy about Thomas Cromwell.
Henry V111 is starting to tire of his stormy marriage to Ann Boleyn and her failure to give him an heir. He is also smitten by Jane Seymour. Cromwell realises it is up to him to provide Henry with the means to end his marriage.
Digging to America by Ann Tyler
Two adoptive families meet at the airport when they arrive to collect their infant daughters who have travelled from Korea to start a new life in America.
Although their parenting methods differ it is the start of a long friendship. The book not only questions how best to raise a family but also whether it is ever possible for an immigrant to be totally assimilated into their new country.
Charlotte Bronte - a Life by Claire Harman
A motherless child, sent away to a brutal boarding school (at Cowan Bridge, near to Kirkby Lonsdale), then suffering the pangs of unrequited love, Charlotte Bronte had only to remember her own life to draw inspiration for her novels. In addition to Charlotte this book also gives us a clear picture of the other members of this exceptional family.
8th September- Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
In July we read about Aminata and her life as a slave. This book brings us up to date as it centres on Ruth Jefferson, a delivery nurse, and explores the issues of race and prejudice in present day America. The book's title comes from the words of Martin Luther King, "If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way".
16th October - Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks
It is 1942 and Charlotte Gray, an agent of Britain's S.O.E. has just arrived in Vichy France. Officially, her official duty is to liaise with the local Resistance but, unofficially, she is also desperate to discover the fate of her missing airman lover.
20th November - Red Dust Road and The Adoption Papers both by Jackie Kay
From the moment when, as a young child, she realises that her skin is a different colour from that of her Mum and Dad the author is determined to track down her biological parents. We join her on her emotional journey, told with warmth, humour and compassion.
The Adoption Papers retells her story but this time in poetry and from the viewpoints of the mother, the birth mother and the daughter.
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.