Woman Sitting on Chair Using Black Ipad

Welcome to the latest update from Liz and our friendly book group.

Another convivial meeting in the Westlands Lounge where, after our refreshments – what a variety was enjoyed! – we started chatting about books. This month we read two books, both very different, so our comments were good as well as critical in places.

‘The Romantic’ by William Boyd

Liz recommended this one as we had read a William Boyd novel in the past and enjoyed it. This felt similar in format as we had a main character who seemed to live his life along an historical timeline, being in the right place where a memorably important person happened to be, or a turn of history took him to significant places.

Mark thought it reminded him of George McDonald Frazer’s Flashman, who also happened to be in historical situations and said that for a boy growing up it was a clever way to show history in the making. He also questioned in ‘The Romantic’ just how many times can a character lose a fortune and haphazardly discard people along the way.

Sandra thought the character very self-centred. She finished the book, but the main character Cashel was not a favourite.

Carol finds this type of book predictable. Our book group read in the past ‘Any Human Heart’ by William Boyd and the format was similar. She commented that it was one way to learn history!

Faye thought the main character’s love life was irritating, repetitive, but the book was quite clever.

So, in general, we were glad we had read it, but it was not as well liked as others.

‘Last Hours in Paris by’ Ruth Druart

Many enjoyed this read and here are some of the comments;

Sandra enjoyed this novel and drew similarities with ‘All the Light we Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr, which we read recently. An interesting discussion as some of us had seen the Netflix version of his book: some comparing, with the book winning above the TV version.

Chip thought the role of Sebastian was very believable and found the whole novel really revealing and enjoyable. The character’s time as a PoW was interesting as Chip had experience of one working near his home when he was a child. Many memories were aired and that is what a good book does, it generates conversation and stirs hidden thoughts.

Jane enjoyed it and also liked Ruth Druart’s previous novel ‘While Paris Slept’. These books make us realise how lucky we were not to be occupied during WWII.

Faye liked this book very much and mentioned the fear they were living in at all times. The characters of Elise and the bookshop man were excellent and believable.

Carol reminded us that we had never been occupied as a nation, but we should realise that in those circumstances people’s attitudes had to adapt. We all really enjoyed this book and it generated some really interesting conversation.

Welcome, Theresa!

We welcomed a new reader to our group, Theresa. She told us she had recently read two excellent books, ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens and ‘The Kew Gardens Girls’ by Posy Lovell, which has been described as an emotional and sweeping novel. Perhaps we will all read this one.

Other Recommendations

We had all read other books during the month and these are recommended:

Chip read ‘Once Upon a River’ by Diane Setterfield. Some of our group had read it previously but the book and the audible version were highly recommended. Jane agreed with this recommendation.

Jane loves historical fiction and is currently reading ‘The Needle in the Blood’ by Sarah Bower about the Bayeux Tapestry, very well researched and recommended.

Mark told us about ‘The President’s Hat’.  A series of short stories about a hat being left in places and its influence on those who found it. Francoise Mitterrand was mentioned!

Mark also mentioned ‘The Lost Bookshop’ by Evie Woods and recommended it.

Carol has had a month of reading ‘whodunnits’. Val McDurmid, Tom Hindle, and ‘Babel’ by Rebecca Kwang (she read the sample on Kindle first). These were followed by ‘The Ghost Fields’ by Elly Griffiths. Now that was an excellent month of reading!

Next Month

Next month, we will be reading three suggestions:

  • ‘The House of Doors’ by Tan Twan Eng. This is highly recommended but at present it is only in hardback or Kindle. The paperback is being released in March so some may wish to wait for that.
  • ‘The Vintage Shop’ by Libby Page. This one is set in Frome, Somerset so it feels local. Libby launched this book at the Yeovil Literary Festival, and it will be a welcome read.
  • ‘The Hike’ by Lucy Clarke.  Lucy also came to the Library weekend of the Yeovil Literary Festival and introduced her audience to this book. ‘The Hike’ takes place in Norway.

Our Next Meeting

The date of our next meeting (with Secret Santa!) is Tuesday 12th December 2023.

P.S. What is our Secret Santa? We each wrap up a book we have read and wish to share or visit a charity shop and buy a book in good condition. No names on the book but someone may be enticed by interesting wrapping paper! We put a pile of books on the table and when each of us leaves, we take a secret Santa book. I open mine on Christmas Day and think about all the others doing the same!