September – Never let me go

Well I did at least manage to read both books this month, which is a miracle in itself. I did not love them both, but at least I didn’t walk away from either. The meeting was small, but as usual fabulous fun, and yes in celebration of surviving the start of term I did pour a G&T.

Kazuo Ishiguro – Never let me go

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I knew nothing about this author, or the book, but someone had given me a free copy, so it was already sat on my shelf, this is a good thing, because if I had bought it I would have been upset. I went into the book with no expectations, I read the blurb, it seemed like it could be interesting, it was recommended and reviews were 4* so I threw myself in to it. I did not enjoy reading this book, it was bleak, but not in a way that affected me, not dark enough to be thrilling, just kind of grey.

*Spoiler alert* The subject matter, the farming of children in purpose built schools to provide organs for transplant was fairly unique, and could have really caught the reader’s attention, but the story was written in a kind of real, but not real style where nothing really went anywhere (or nowhere worth being anyway). I read on, hoping that the children as they grew would challenge their situation, or that one would change the system for the better, I wanted to see rebellion, I wanted the story to shock me, I wanted to find something that made me glad I picked up this dreary, dull book.

There were only four of us at the meeting and all of us disliked the book, with Sam saying it was possibly the worst book that we’d ever read as a club (I don’t think she read ‘Love in a cold climate’ to be fair). I believe the book was supposed to make us think, think about the way science is heading, think about the ‘is it right to create people purely for the purpose of healing others?’ question etc. The failure of the story to intrigue us into discussing the state of the world, and life and death as a whole, is very telling, and explains our group rating for this book. I think the book was about 100 pages too long, and could have been improved by losing some of the unnecessary filler story lines. On average the group rated it 2* and I gave it a 1.5* purely because I did manage to finish it. There are a great many great books out there, this is not one of them, honestly just don’t bother!

Magda Szabó – The Door

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What a lovely little find this book was. I was shopping online and had one of those ‘if you liked **** then you’ll like The Door’ type recommendations, I cannot remember when or what the other book was, but I put this on my wish list, why? because I liked the cover! This story of the life of an elderly Hungarian woman is just beautiful, the writer draws us in and we get to know Emerence so well and to understand all of her quirks. I was emotionally invested in the life of this woman with whom I have literally nothing in common, I loved her, I got annoyed with her, I believed in her.

Magda Szabó names the other main character in the book after herself, she is an author, and has no children, just like Magda herself. Emerence works for the character Magda as her housekeeper, and the book revolves around their relationship, which is one that has a real honesty about it, they do love each other, but they drive each other nuts at times. I found the book slow to read, I am not sure why, it was hard work though (Perhaps it was the translation?), however I am glad I read it, because it was really lovely. I gave it 4*, the group gave it 4.5*.

Happy Reading!

Mel

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August – The girl in the red coat

So I find myself well in to the month of October, and I still haven’t written the book club blog for August. I have no idea where September went, but I am sat now with a cup of coffee and some Salted caramels, and I’m all yours for the next two hours.

The girl in the red coat – Kate Hamer

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Aaaargh!!! Yes it’s ANOTHER missing child book, I don’t know how many books exist on this theme, but it does seem to be disproportionate. There were flaws, huge gaping flaws in the story, in what we were expected to believe, and in the writing at times. This wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, it wasn’t even the worst ‘missing child’ book, but it left me cold. I found the story a little far fetched, yes I know it’s fiction, but I just didn’t believe it, I didn’t believe that the little girl (Carmel) would accept the story that she was being fed at 8 years old.

The reason that she was taken, when that became clear, was an interesting twist, and could have kept my attention, but it just wasn’t written well enough (not awful, just not intriguing enough). This is not a thriller, not really, if that is what you are looking for, you need to look elsewhere, it is a weird book about relationships, it is a book about faith and it is a book about moving on with your life after experiencing the loss of a child. I was underwhelmed by the story, and then came the end, what the hell was that? So disappointing, it feels like a book that was finished in a hurry, the day before a deadline, so disappointing.

There was one thing that I really liked in this book, and that was the relationship between Beth, her ex husband and his new girlfriend, this was beautifully written and touching. I really can’t recommend this book, but I can imagine it appealing to readers who haven’t read several missing child books and are looking for something with a twist. I gave the book 2*, the average in rating from the group was 2.5*.

In cold blood – Truman Capote

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Now this is a book that I can recommend, happily, wholeheartedly, enthusiastically. ‘In cold blood’ is a masterpiece, it is an unusual book, in that it is a true story told in an almost ‘fiction’ style. Capote recounts the case of the murders of the Clutter family, starting with some background on the family, their lives and relationships. He then goes on the tell the story from the perspectives of the killers, the friends and family of the Clutters, and the investigating officer. Capote manages to report his findings without being judgemental about the killers, or the criminal justice system in the USA at the time.

This book makes it on to many of the ’50 books you must read’ type lists, and it is easy to see why, it is wonderfully unique, beautifully written and draws and keeps you in right until the end. Both of the killers’ characters are explored fully, and their personalities are so well written that I began to feel like I knew them, or at least understood who they were. The club members who read this book rated it an average of 4.5*, I gave it a 5* because it truly kept me gripped, Truman Capote is a genius, and this book is amazing, we loved it!

Love in a cold climate – Nancy Mitford

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I just can’t think of a good thing to say about this book. I usually manage to battle my way through most books, and despite trying to get it finished in time for the meeting, I failed. This is a story of privilege, set in high society in the world of ‘coming out’ balls, and arranged marriages of 1940’s upper class England. The characters have nothing about them, it is a ‘fluffy’ book, with no backbone, almost like watching one episode of ‘upstairs downstairs’ that has been stretched out to 5 hours long, with no ‘downstairs’ story.

For a book that only had 249 pages, it was long, it was dull and if I am honest it was a complete waste of my time. I stopped reading at page 210, which is damning, because let’s face it, the book has to be really bad for someone who has read 4/5ths of it to give up at that point.  I gave this book 1* and I think that was being generous, the group average for this book was 2*, If you have nothing else to do and no other books on your shelf, by all means give it a go, if not, don’t bother.

Happy Reading!

Mel