Chapter & Verse
Back in November we discussed The Witch of Exmoor by Margaret Drabble - a social novel set in the post Thatcher period of the mid-nineties.
It follows the rather selfish dysfunctional Palmer family - the mother, Hilda Haxby; her two daughters and son; their spouses and children. Hilda Haxby is a writer. Her upper middle class offspring think she's mad, as she sells the family home to buy a large near-derelict house on the edge of a cliff on Exmoor. She goes to live there alone and write her memoirs. Her children are vaguely concerned as to her well-being, but care more about their potential inheritance, and she cares little for them. Her favourite grandchild is her half Guyanese grandson and it is to him that she decides to leave everything. The pressures give him a nervous breakdown and Freda Haxby goes missing. After many twists and turns questions are answered and each member of the family's destiny is revealed, not without tragedy.
The Witch of Exmoor is a bizarre book, very much of its time, but much of the social comment is still valid today. It is very well written, easy to read and hard to put down with plenty of black humour and social observation to make you smile. It has received mixed reviews but in general we enjoyed it and it generated some good discussion.
In December we had our joint Book Club Christmas party, courtesy of Helen, which was great fun and enjoyed by all.
Our first book of 2017 has yet to be discussed so the line-up will be:-
The Girl with All the Gifts
M R Carey Monday 16 January
The Essex Serpent
Sarah Perry Monday13 March
For more information contact Maggie Gawthorpe on 812621
Winter in Madrid by C J Sansom was our choice for October. The story unfolds quietly revealing the stiff upper lip, public school breeding of its central characters. The story begins in late autumn 1940 amid the rubble of Madrid when Spain has been devastated by civil war. Franco is in power. Harry Brett is sent from England to Madrid as an agent of British Intelligence. There are five central characters – unassuming spy Brett, shady businessman Sandy Forsyth and Bernie Piper, a communist who is assumed to have been killed in the early part of the conflict fighting the fascists, and Red Cross nurse Barbara who was once Bernie’s lover and is now Sandy’s girlfriend. There is also Harry’s Spanish lover, Sofia. Their lives intertwine and head slowly to the novel’s dramatic and breath-taking climax. We found the intricacies of the factions and brutality of Franco educational as well as interesting.
We shared a celebration of Christmas with Chapter and Verse friends where good food and wine made the evening go well. We played games appropriate to a literary group and ended the evening sharing our favourite pieces of poetry. Thank you to Helen Richardson for her hospitality.
Our read for the New Year has been historical novel Merrivel: A Man of His Time by Rose Tremaine. The novel is a sequel to an earlier one: ‘Restoration’. In places the novel looks back at earlier times when Sir Robert Merrivel was first a courtier to King Charles II which gives a richness and depth to the character as he reflects on how he has lived his life. He skims over incidents from his earlier life and reveals in part a debauched life. Overall, an excellent book.
If you would like to know more about this Book Club contact: Margaret Clarke on 01283 813709
Last updated: 6 March 2017