Are you an avid reader? Or perhaps new to the village. Did you know we have a flourishing Book Club?
The book club started about 15 years ago with just 3 members and our first novel was ‘the Girl With a Pearl Earring’. Since then we have grown into a small but enthusiastic group of committed readers. We meet monthly in different members houses for book discussion and a bit of gossip over a glass of wine. Books are chosen democratically: someone suggests a book which we may vote on. We aim to read widely — modern literary books, some classics and, occasionally, a thriller or a biography. We want to enjoy our reading but sometimes to challenge ourselves and read something we may otherwise not have thought of.To find out more about the Village Book Club contact Heather. Activity Address Rose Cottage and various venues Name of Contact Heather Mines Contact Address Rose Cottage, Hall Lane, Hadlow Down, TN22 4HJ Telephone 07974 204231 Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Have you ever heard of such a thing? A human chain to rescue books, a moment of coming together, of resistance.’
Our book this month has particular poignancy in view of what is happening in the world right now. Priscilla Morris’s novel, shortlisted for the Women’s Prize tells the story of the siege of Sarajevo, based on real-life incidents and experiences from her own family.
Zora Kokovic is an artist and Professor of Art at the University of Sarajevo where she lives with her husband Franjo and cares for her 83-year-old mother. As unrest grows, Franjo and her mother leave to stay with her daughter who lives in England, but Zora decides to stay in her beloved city to finish her painting and join them later. She believes that things will soon settle down and that the tanks gathering in the mountains are for their protection.
Despite difficulties, Zora begins to enjoy her solitude and focus on her recent painting. But soon things worsen, as conflict turns into full scale war. Buildings are shelled, people lie dead in the streets; food, water and electricity become scarce and then vanish. Zora is reduced to catching pigeons on her windowsill and cooking them. Continue reading “Hadlow Down Book Club Review – November 2023”
In August the Book Club always takes a break and members read their own choice of book and bring back recommendations to the group. We certainly had a diverse and interesting selection and I for one can’t wait to start reading some of them.
To start with some vintage World War novels, ‘Death of a Hero’ (1929) was written by Richard Aldington and based on his own first-hand experience of World War 1. It is sometimes considered the greatest of all novels about that War and makes a scalding critique of those pre-war voices that helped to make that global catastrophe inevitable. It is that very anger that made this a fascinating read. Nigel Balchin was a psychologist, a writer and deputy scientific adviser to the Army Council. Like Aldington he writes from first-hand knowledge in ‘Darkness Falls from the Air’ (1942) a vivid account of living through the blitz and ‘Small Back Room’ (1943) a story of the backroom boys. Of their time, they are readable, informative and vivid. Continue reading “SUMMER BOOK CLUB REVIEW”
“Life doesn’t have a narrator – it’s full of lies and half-truths – so we never know anything for sure, not really. I like that”The Temptation of Forgiveness Donna Leon (2018).
We decided to read something lighter this month, and chose Trace Elements (2020), by Donna Leon. No doubt some of you will be familiar with her long-running series, set in Venice and featuring the Commissario (Detective Superintendent) Guido Brunetti, his wife Paola and his team in the Questura (police headquarters). Continue reading “Hadlow Down Book Club Review – August ’23”
This month we have been reading The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (2022). Recommended by BBC2’s ‘Between the Covers’, we found it to somewhat of a ‘Marmite’ book.
It is set during the real-life dancing mania of 1518 in Strasbourg when hundreds of women joined in a dance, without stopping despite hunger and bleeding feet, part of a mania that occurred in Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. It is narrated through the eyes of Lisbet, a farmer’s wife heavily with her thirteenth child, having lost the previous twelve. The whole region is suffering from famine due to the drought and the blistering hot summer. It is also suffering from the oppression of a tyrannical Authority controlled by a corrupt and powerful Church. Lisbet is in a loveless marriage and desperate to bear this baby successfully. She is a lonely figure surrounded by mysteries – what sin was her sister-in-law Agnethe guilty of that she was sent away to a monastery for seven years and has now returned emaciated and with a scarred shaven head? Why is Ida, Lisbet’s best friend behaving so oddly? Why is Sophe her mother-in-law so grim? Continue reading “Hadlow Down Book Club Review – July”
‘The dizzying weight of the earth and everything in it and beyond it’
In contrast to our last read, the long novel Middlesex,this month we read the novella West, the first novel by an award winning short story writer and poet, Carys Davies. Although slim, the book deals with big, some say, mythic themes., exploring our relationship with the environment. Continue reading “Hadlow Down Book Club Review”
Firefly is a political spy thriller, set in the world of refugees fleeing from Syria and ISIS. Naji is a brilliant thirteen-year-old who escapes from a refugee camp in Greece and makes his way across Europe with information vital to ISIS. He is pursued by a ruthless ISIS gang but also by a British agent, working for MI5 who want the same information.
The flight is beset by dangers which Naji uses his wits to evade. He encounters cruelty and suffering but also kindness and generosity, often from those who have little to give.
Henry Porter is a journalist. His novel is well-researched and shows his first-hand knowledge of the subject. He brings conditions in the refugee camp vividly to life as well as the dangers and suffering involved by those fleeing and the bureaucratic difficulties they face.
The novel is certainly a good page-turner but it is also a thought provoking book, very relevant at the moment –‘ a glimpse with a terrifying and random world in which there are few happy endings.’ (Guardian)
Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides (2002)
Our next novel was a complete contrast – a family saga covering three generations of a Greek family, who flee from a tiny village in Asia Minor to prohibition-era Detroit, escaping from the Turks’ brutal invasion of Smyrna.
The novel tells the story of its narrator, Calliope Stephanides who has an intersex condition known as 5-alpha reduction deficiency so that she is born a girl but is realized to be biologically male at puberty and becomes ‘Cal’. This syndrome results from a recessive genetic mutation occurring only among inbred populations and the novel uncovers the family secret that caused it.
As an omniscient narrator Cal tells the story of past generations and then her own life, spanning nearly eight decades. Partly based on Eugenides’ own family history we learn of the experiences of Graeco-Americans in turbulent times in the United States – prohibition, race riots, Malcolm X and the Islamic movement.
When he becomes a boy, Cal moves away to San Francisco, and after mishaps along the road and sleeping rough, finds work in a peep show that displays people with ambiguous gender. Eventually he returns home for his Father’s funeral where his Grandmother confesses to the incestuous relationship that led to the gene that was passed to Cal and Cal determines to live a good life, eventually moving to Berlin where he starts a relationship with a woman
This is a dense novel which took the author 9 years to complete. However, he writes with a light touch and the novel is both funny and poignant with a touch of magic realism. Although some of the group felt there was too much detail, the majority of us enjoyed it and felt we had learnt a lot.
Words define us, they explain us, and on occasion,they serve to control or isolate us.’
We think of a dictionary as giving objective, authoritative definitions of words, based on their usage and written sources. This is not entirely the truth, however – they also reflect the dominant culture. In this month’s book The Dictionary of Lost Words (2022) Pip Williams gives an account of the making of the Oxford English Dictionary – the first dictionary since Samuel Johnson’s (1755). Work began in 1857 and it was published in full in 1928. Her novel explores those words that are omitted or inadequately defined.Continue reading “Hadlow Down Book Club Review for March”
“An act of free and general pardon, indemnity, and pardon.” Last month we read The Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris (2022), a historical thriller set in the 17th century in the aftermath of the Restoration. The Act of Oblivion (1652) was the edict that pardoned those who had fought against the king except for those directly responsible for his execution. One of the most prominent of these was Colonel Edward Whalley, a cousin and friend of Oliver Cromwell, who fled to America with his son-in-law Colonel Will Goffe. The novel follows their pursuit through the wilds of pre-revolutionary New England. Continue reading “Hadlow Down Book Club Review for February”
Grief “like sliding down the outside of a really long glass building while nobody can see you”.
The book group has followed the Lucy Barton novels by Elizabeth Strout so we were interested to read the third in the Amgash series Oh William! (2022) which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize this year. Amgash was of course the remote settlement where Lucy grew up in abject poverty and in an abusive home before marrying William, moving to New York and becoming a successful novelist. Continue reading “Hadlow Down Book Club Review – December”
This month our chosen book is The island of Missing Trees by the Turkish writer Elif Shafak, shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022. It is about the Cypriot civil war and how the trauma of such a war imperils future generations as well as uprooting ordinary lives. It is also a Romeo and Juliet story of the passionate love affair between Kostas, a Greek Cypriot and Defne a Turkish Cypriot and it centres on the story how their daughter Ada comes to terms with the past she has never known. Continue reading “Book Club Review – November”
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.