Hadlow Down Book Club Review for February

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”

Hadlow Down Book Club Review – December

 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”

Book Club Review – November

I’ve always believed in inherited pain’

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”

Hadlow Down Book Club Review

We had our usual summer holiday free choice of books in August and an interesting and diverse number to discuss ranging from 18th century to July 2022 and encompassing Africa, Venice and indeed the entire planet.

A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland Samuel Johnson (1775), a weighty account of his eighty day journey through the Highlands and Islands, full of witty insights and powerful moral judgements. He is more interested in the social conditions with Enclosures just beginning but shows an 18th century lack of interest in the scenery.

Donna Leon’s novels set in Venice featuring the likeable Commissario Brunetti. If you haven’t read these novels you are in for a treat with well-rounded interesting characters, good plots and of course descriptions of wonderful food against the Venetian backdrop. If you want to read them in order start with Death at La Fenice (1992) but the novels get better as the characters develop. Continue reading “Hadlow Down Book Club Review”

Hadlow Down Book Club’s August Reviews

Rebecca Stott’s “In the Days of Rain: a Daughter, a Father, a Cult”
Tara Westover’s ‘Educated’
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate said the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you: 2 Corinthians 6.17.

It seems that Jackie Kaye’s book gave us a taste for literary memoir so this month we chose Rebecca Stott’s “In the Days of Rain: a Daughter, a Father, a Cult” (2017) winner of the Costa Biography Award 2017, and also, as a comparison, Tara Westover’s “Educated”. It proved to be an interesting comparison, Stott’s book is an account of growing up in and breaking away from the Exclusive Plymouth Brethren, a deeply repressive fundamentalist Sect/ Cult , and Westover’s is also about growing up and breaking away but from an abusive survivalist Mormon family.
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Hadlow Down Book Club Review for July 2022

What makes us who we are’

It is rare that everyone really loves a chosen book, but this month we were unanimous in our enjoyment of the Scottish Poet Laureate, Jackie Kaye’s memoir Red Dust Road (2010). Jackie’s birth father was Nigerian, and her mother came from the Highlands of Scotland, but she was the adoptive daughter of Helen and John Kaye, leading figures of the Scottish Communist Party. They gave her a warm loving upbringing but when Jackie herself became pregnant the found the need to find her birth parents became overwhelming. Continue reading “Hadlow Down Book Club Review for July 2022”

Hadlow Down Book Club Review – June 2022

I live my life in widening circles/ that reach out across the world’ Rilke

Our book this month was one of the Mann Booker short-listed books, Great Circle (2021), by Maggie Shipstead, also short-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022. Referred to as ‘a ride of a book’, it was at times exhilarating although the book club’s members sometimes found it to be a rather bumpy ride. It was an ambitious novel on a grand scale, spanning a full century and the entire planet. Continue reading “Hadlow Down Book Club Review – June 2022”

H D Book Club Review – Anything is Possible

Anything is possible. No one understands how far you can push your body to the limit and I like to play with that’ (Walt Disney)

About three years ago we read My name is Lucy Barton  by Elizabeth Strout (2016), a novel about a now successful writer beginning to come to terms with her deprived and abusive childhood through conversations with her mother as Lucy lies severely ill in hospital. This month’s book Anything is Possible (2017) follows that novel, but is in the form of a series of interconnected stories about characters from Lucy’s rural hometown of Amgash Illinois.
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Hadlow Down Book Club Review – April

A lot of women are really strong, even though they are slaves.’
Celestial Bodies iby Jonka Alharti

Some months ago we read Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger, a detailed factual account of his travels and relationships with the Bedouin tribesmen across the desert and is entirely about the men. Our February book was one that redressed the balance being about three generations of Omani women in a period of transition from patriarchy to living in an oil-rich Gulf state. Celestial Bodies is by Jonka Alharti, published in 2010 and winner of the Man Booker International prize in 2019, the first Omani writer to be translated into English.

Continue reading “Hadlow Down Book Club Review – April”