2021 Book Group News
The De Beauvoir WI Book Group
We meet once a month and discuss the book we chose between us at the previous meeting. We try not to stick to a particular genre or type, and suggestions from all members are welcome – and more importantly – acted upon.
Amidst the current Pandemic we have had to postpone our usual format for our long running book group. However we are continuing to meet and discuss the written word via Zoom. Please see below for further details.
February – The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
Anthony Horowitz was better know to most of us as the writer of the children’s James Bond books featuring Alex Rider, but this book won the Guardian Best Thriller of The Year so, having a huge respect for the Guardian’s literary opinions, we have chosen this for our book this month.
Horowitz is in the book as one of the main characters and has given himself the role of an inept Watson to the idiosyncratic hero of the book, detective Daniel Hawthorne. And he shamelessly promotes his more famous successful writing projects; Foyle’s War in particular gets a lot of coverage. Hawthorne is a former police detective who left the service under a cloud, but is so brilliant the police use him as a consultant to solve their crimes.
It starts with a woman being murdered just six hours after arranging her own funeral and it is a page turner. Making fiction sound like fact is the goal of most novelists, but this is so well done I actually checked a couple fo the characters out. There is some splendid misdirection and it’s well written and well paced.
A good winter comforter and even if you don’t want to come along to the book group, I can recommend it. And there is already a sequel.
If you are interested in reading and discussing books, please do come along to our virtual book group. We do ask that if you are going to come along you really should have read the book.
For our October book group we read Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyememi.
During the summer we read The Dutch House by Ann Pratchett, which everyone liked! And admired. We even all agreed on our amateur psychological slants in the book. And we would all recommend it. A good story told in a lucid and accessible style. Other people said that her other books are also good, but I have to confess this is the only one of hers I have read.
And more recently My Duck Is Your Duck by Deborah Eisenberg, which we found in the Guardian Review selection of the best recent collections (of short stories). A collection of short stories seemed to suit our mood well, so maybe it’s a readerly thing – lockdown has affected our concentration times; short stories are well ordered and concise, so an antidote to real life
Julie said her favourite short story was The Mark on the Wall by Virginia Woolf.
And my favourite short story is either The 9 Billion Names of God or The Star both by Arthur C Clarke. I think that the short story is a particularly good platform for science fiction. [It may be that I read them at an impressionable age, so I just reread them and they both still pack a punch.]
If you have a favourite, let us know – we could do a book group on them.
For April, the book group were planning to read Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo, which was a co-winner of the Booker prize last year. Much to our shame none of the members of the book group had read any of Evaristo’s previous work, so we eventually read Blonde Roots, because Girl, Woman, Other was not available in paperback. Blonde Roots was very good; it inverted the black white power ratio in the transatlantic slave trade to challenge the perceptions of the reader. Sort of like a more nuanced Noughts and Crosses, (BBC). Evaristo is an amusing writer with a wry outlook, an appreciation of the truth in cliché and an accessible style. And GWO was more upbeat than the previous two choices – actually The Wall (January’s choice) wasn’t very happy either – so was probably more in keeping with our needs at the moment. And it is now out in paperback.
In January we read The Wall, a dystopian science fiction about Great Britain with a wall built all around it, guarded by Keepers, to keep out The Others. If a patrol of Keepers let in any Others, they are thrown out over the Wall into the sea to replace the Others they had allowed in. Written by John Lanchester in his easily accessible style, it is a well thought through, readable and highly believable story projected only a short while into the future. Bear in mind, the American President is talking of building a wall and the Greeks announced at the end of January they were thinking about building a barrier at sea. It’s only thirty years since the Berlin Wall came down. Recommended – even without the prescience.
What with half term and everything, we held our March meeting was on 3rd March. And because it was a long break between sessions, we attempted to read two books.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
A novel about mishaps, misunderstandings and the depths of the human heart. Also supposed to be funny. Winner of the Pulitzer 2018
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
Surprisingly wise – a novel to be reread and remembered, recalling some of the master of Indian fiction with a deft comic touch. And it won the Man Booker in 2006.