Hadlow Down Book Club Review -August 2021

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.
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H D Book Club Review – July 2021 ‘Small Pleasures’

I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.” Oscar Wilde

This month we chose a complete contrast to our previous book and read ‘Small Pleasures’ by Clare Chambers’ 2020, longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 and selected for BBC2 ‘Between the Covers’ Book club. It has been described as a word of mouth hit, “almost flawless”, and I personally found it a delightful book.
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Hadlow down Book Club Review – June 2021

 ‘The Sympathizer’  by Viet Thanh Nguyen

“I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am also a man of two minds.”

Fifty years ago David Ellsburg risked jail with his sensational leak of Pentagon secrets on the Vietnam War. His only regret now is that he didn’t release them earlier. In tune with the times, this month we have been reading ‘The Sympathizer’ by Viet Thanh Nguyen, a novel about that War and its aftermath and winner of the Pulitzer prize 2016.
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Book Club Review – “Klara and the Sun”

The Sun was always very kind to me. He was always kind to me from the start.

This month’s book is “Klara and the Sun” by Nobel Prize Winner Kazuo Ishiguro. I had looked forward to reading this as I really loved “Never Let me Go” when the book club read it some years ago and I knew that the two books had much in common, with their dystopian setting and their themes of sacrifice, solitude and exploitation. Continue reading “Book Club Review – “Klara and the Sun””

Hadlow Down Book Club Review – April 2021

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Pachinko is a foolish game, but life was not.’

Our book this month was “Pachinko”, by Min Jin Lee, an American Korean who spent time in Japan with her husband. This was one of the most popular choices among writers offering their summer choices to the Irish Times and a runner-up to the National Book Award for Fiction 2017.
Pachinko is a game of chance – a cross between pinball and slot machines in which the managers tilt the pins to make more money. Popular in Japan, but disreputable because of its element of gaming, Pachinko halls were often one way for Korean immigrants to make money, as do three of the main characters in the novel. The title of the book is literal but also metaphoric – life is like the game of Pachinko, especially for despised immigrants like the Koreans in Tokyo.

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Hadlow Down Book Club Review – March 2021

Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford
Everything ends… doesn’t mean it wasn’t good’.

A few years ago the Book Club read Francis Spufford’s debut picaresque novel ‘On Golden Hill’. Described as a frolicsome, exuberant romp, all of us really enjoyed it and we were therefore keen to read his next novel, Light Perpetual’, a title taken from the Requiem Prayer. Continue reading “Hadlow Down Book Club Review – March 2021”