Chapter & Verse
We finished 2017 with a book by Louis de Bernieres –‘The Dust that falls from Dreams.’ An epic story of love and war covering the idyllic pre-war years, the tragedy, bleakness and despair that follow and finally dealing with the aftermath, trying to pick up the threads of normal life. This is explored through the eyes of 2 families whose sons and daughters lives are interwoven through love and death which carries on beyond the war and in one case into colonial Ceylon. The writing captured well the horrors of trench warfare and how lives are changed in minutes, as well as painting a clear picture of life for those left behind. We felt the description was vivid, interesting and accurate, though sometimes too much detail to take in fully. We also enjoyed the scope of the story and how the author explores the changing status and role of the women characters.
Our Christmas party in December for both book groups was as festive and enjoyable as ever and thank you to all who hosted and took part.
In January we read ‘My Life in Houses’ by the prolific writer Margaret Forster. Published in 2014 after the author had been diagnosed with cancer it presents an unusual take on autobiography by describing all the various houses she had occupied throughout her life. It begins with the house in which she is raised – one of the new council houses built in Carlisle (and across Britain) in response to the King’s speech of 1919 calling for more houses to be built for the poor. This alone rang bells for us as we now live through yet another housing crisis. We are taken on a journey through the eyes of the author from Carlisle to Oxford to London charting her childhood, starting to write and early marriage to Hunter Davies followed by family, fame and greater prosperity enabling holiday homes on the Continent and the Lake District. It also finds Margaret struggling with her reactions to all these changes and gives a good overview of the way things have altered for women and as a consequence for society, as the Twentieth Century unfolded. We found this book easy to read and also to relate to, leading to discussion of our own experiences in houses. Margaret Forster published 25 novels and 14 biographies and died in 2016 aged 77.
In future we plan to read:-
‘A God in Ruins’ by Kate Atkinson Tuesday 27 February
‘Midwinter Break’ by Bernard Maclaverty Monday 26 March
For further information contact Maggie Gawthorpe 812621
The Muse by Jessie Burton was our choice for November 2017. We read her debut novel, The Miniaturist, over two years ago where she recreated the stiff-necked puritan tradition of 17th-century Amsterdam. This time the writer imagines not one but two distinct eras within the 20th-century to create an intricate story of deception. She fuses 1960s London and Spain of the 1930s with the link between the two periods being a picture painted by one character, Olive, in 1936 but passed off as being by another, Isaac (the muse) in the light of the view of the period held by many including Olive’s father, an art dealer, that women were not recognised as accomplished artists but merely as painters. When the action moves from Spain to London in 1967 the painting, still thought to be by Isaac de Robles, by now killed in the Spanish civil war, comes to notice by another art dealer and so the mystery of the progeny of the painting is pursued by characters Odelle, a budding writer and creative in her own right and her employer, Marjorie Quick. The story is complex weaving themes set in the two countries about creativity and what can inspire it.
In complete contrast December brought us The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District by James Rebanks. The book is the writer’s diary of his years as a sheep farmer in the north-eastern fells of the Lake District. It isn’t exactly chronological, as a diary might be, as it was written originally as a series of blogs but the sense of family; of grandfather, father, son where the life of the shepherd and family values of loyalty and friendship are passed down and perpetuated is powerful. The book becomes a wonderfully detailed and candid account of a life that is both individual and typical of the role in rural society. What it all amounts to is the closest possible look into a way of life that most of us only glimpse as we travel through the countryside or perhaps as we climb and walk there. A must for lovers of BBC’s Countryfile.
If you would like to know more about this Book Club contact: Margaret Clarke on 01283 813709
Last updated: 21 February 2018