Shelves of books

Another gathering of booklovers met at the Lounge in Westlands Entertainment Venue for book chatter and to review our choice of reading for the previous month. Always happy talk and sometimes a little critiquing, all done with the best intentions.

‘Puffball Paradox’ by Chip Tolson

Chip was unable to be with us but emailed that he appreciated our comments last month on his third novel, ‘Puffball Paradox’. Theresa has now read it, together with Chip’s collection of winning short stories, ‘Pebbles’, and she thoroughly enjoyed them both. We joined her in hoping there was a sequel to ‘Puffball Paradox’. Over to you and your pen now Chip!

Book One: ‘The Word is Murder’ by Anthony Horowitz

Liz loved it as it was a famous writer, actually Anthony, but his detective Hawthorne insists on calling him Tony, even though the actual writer Anthony Horwitz detests being called Tony. It added to the irony of this novel. An unusual beginning that lead to a murder within the first unfolding chapters of a bizarre crime linked to a past incident. This unusual way of leading the reader through the events was novel and intriguing. Having seen Anthony talk about his latest book in Waterstones, he now has a ‘following’ with our book group, maybe, as his latest book is ‘Close to Death’!

Eddie is currently reading this with Faye, who wanted no spoilers as they hadn’t quite finished it. Enjoying it so far!

Having heard our comments, Mark will now read it, and Carol was almost at the end and didn’t want to know the ending. Our reviewers kept the denouement to themselves!

By the way, if you’re a fan of crime novels, don’t miss the month of crime writer events happening at Waterstones Yeovil in July.  Full details on the Waterstones website.

Books Two and Three: ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ and ‘Three Sisters’ by Heather Morris

Carol had led a school educational visit to a concentration camp near Berlin and felt unable to read these two books as she found the experience so harrowing. She explained the visit to our group in a very engaging way. Reading books set in those times and circumstances are too uncomfortable.

Faye read both books, finding the Tattooist’s experience horrific and intense. She found ‘Three Sisters’ more hopeful because, as a younger woman, she went to a Kibbutz to live and work. Current tensions based in that part of the world are disturbing for her. Experience of a time and place can certainly be felt when reading novels set when the reader can personally relate to the setting.

Theresa agreed with Faye in that the horror of Auschwitz was shown in detail in the story of Lale, the Tattooist, but ‘Three Sisters’ ended with hope. We discussed how the sisters had suffered but that not too intense detail had been shared. This was balanced out by the three sisters ending up in Israel and making families.

Liz loved the portrayal by Heather Morris’ writing of historic, horrific settings and deeply felt the loss of so many people, She has the last one of the trilogies to read and will find time to really appreciate her writing. Heather Morris has a new novel out so we will read that in the future called ‘Sisters of the Rising Sun’.

Mark enjoyed this novel even though it was horrifying but appreciated the male prospective being told. He will now read ‘Three Sisters’. We had quite a discussion on these books and agreed that they will be read in 100 years-time as a true retelling of a disturbing period of history that should never be repeated.

Other Books We’ve Read This Month

Mark read ‘Educated’ by Tara Westover. It was an autobiography telling of a split from a Mormon family. It portrayed the power of the man in that setting. He found it fascinating. After reviewing it and a discussion on how religion – strictness – used to be the case in USA, Theresa will now read it.

Carol read ‘American Wife’ by Curtis Sittenfield, which she found a very good read, and also ‘Middlemarch’ by George Elliot. The changes in the use of language between a book written then and how we read novels today followed.

Theresa read another Ariana Franklin book, ‘The Death Maze’, set in the fens in 1172 and found it to be excellent.

Sandra was almost at the end of reading ‘The Escape Artist’ by Jonathan Freedland, telling of an escapee from Auschwitz who was not believed when he tried to tell the world what was happening in the camps. She said it was compelling reading and highly recommended it.

Sandra also read ‘Take my Hand’ by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, set in Alabama in 1973, but found it too dark, so not recommended by her. She and Siobhan told highly recommended ‘The Cloisters’ by Katy Hays.

Next Month

To conclude our season of reading of the horrors of Auschwitz to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the successful D-Day invasion of France, we will now read ‘The Escape Artist’ by Jonathan Freedland, because we are really curious as to how the protagonist was not believed… we will discuss next month.

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 9th July 2024 in The Lounge at Westlands Entertainment Venue, Yeovil, from 12 noon until 2pm. You know you are welcome!