The Book Club

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

July Hadlow Down Book Club Review

‘English humour turns on transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary’ , James Thurber 

Listening to the World Service in the small hours of an insomniac night, I suddenly jolted wide awake as I heard the voice of the author of one of our favourite Book Club reads – Clare Chambers talking about Small Pleasures. She was saying that she extensively read fifties novels in order to capture the dialogue and atmosphere of the time. Her favourite was Excellent Women (1952) by Barbara Pym, so we decided to read it ourselves.   Continue reading “July Hadlow Down Book Club Review”

Hadlow Down Book Club Review

The House of Doors (2023),

A story like a bird of the mountains can carry a name beyond  the clouds, beyond even time itself’.

Some years ago the Book Club read The Garden of Evening Mist (2021) by Tan Twan Eng. It was that rare thing – a book that we all loved both for the lyrical language and the narrative that unfolds. So it was with enthusiasm that we chose The House of Doors (2023), long listed for the Booker Prize. Continue reading “Hadlow Down Book Club Review”

Village Article Writers

The Village Magazine is asking for volunteers who would be prepared to write and submit articles on a regular basis on any subject that could be of interest to parishioners.

As well as hoping for input of a variety of village life subjects from all residents the Mag is particularly interested in hearing from youngsters who may be doing Med
ia Studies at college. As well as being recognised for contributing something to your community it’s a great opportunity to add something to your CV!
Please contact Peter at if interested.

Hadlow Down Book Club Review – December.

We have been reading ‘Small Things Like These’ by Claire Keegan (2021), a novella shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize. It is set in a small Irish town in the run-up to Christmas 1985, and is about the moral dilemma of Bill Furlong, a coal merchant. He is married with five daughters who are doing well and give him much joy and pride. He is the illegitimate son of a 16 year- old housemaid who was protected by her well-to-do Protestant employer who also acted as a patron to Bill. He is aware of his good fortune and tries to emulate her kindness to him by acts of kindness to others. Continue reading “Hadlow Down Book Club Review – December.”

Hadlow Down Book Club Review – November 2023

Black Butterflies Priscilla Morris 2023

‘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”

Hadlow Down Book Club Review – August ’23

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”

Hadlow Down Book Club Review – July

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”

Hadlow Down Book Club Review


Lancaster author Carys Davies photographed by Jonathan Bean

West  (2018)

‘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”

Hadlow Down Book Club Reviews

Firefly Henry Porter 2018.

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.

Next book ‘West’ by Carys Davies