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Did you know that the first recorded reading groups were among women working in factories in the nineteenth century? And now, according to research undertaken a few years ago, there are tens of thousands of groups meeting regularly in the UK reading everything from literary classics to technical manuals! Of course, if you are in a book group, choosing what to read next can be a serious matter as not every book has subject matter that can really be discussed. So to help you LoveReading has decided to lend a hand by, each month, selecting a number of books we feel are perfect and will give your group a rewarding discussion as well as a rewarding read.
This review is provided by bookgroup.info.Purple Hibiscus is the story of a fifteen-year-old Nigerian girl, Kambili, and describes her life under the constraints of her father's strict regime. When life in the city becomes dangerous during a military coup, she is sent away to stay with her aunt where she eventually finds love and happiness. Written from Kambili's point of view, it is a powerful story that is remarkable for the subtlety of the telling. Papa, a newspaper owner committed to reporting the truth about state corruption, revered by the community for his generosity, is in many ways a monstrous figure. At home he is authoritarian and bullying, narrow-minded and intolerant, yet he is motivated by profound religious beliefs. And, although his love for them is beyond doubt, his cruelty to his family in order to keep them on the path of righteousness is chilling. The delicacy of the relationship between father and daughter is especially painful: locked to Kambili's fear of her father is an unquestioning love and belief. She describes how she would "snuggle into Papa's arms when harmattan thunderstorms raged outside, flinging mangoes against the window netting and making the electric wire hit each other and spark bright orange flames. Papa would lodge me between his knees or wrap me in the cream blanket that smelled of safety." And even after she finally breaks away from the security of his violence and begins to become independent, she remains devoted to him. Like most Nigerian novels, Purple Hibiscus necessarily deals with the tension between Catholicism and traditional religion, but Ngozi Adichie also tackles the more recent problems associated with an African state emerging, as Kambili does, from the destructive legacy of a paternalist power. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has won the 2005 Commonwealth Writers Prize First Best Book award for Purple Hibiscus. Welcome to another wonderful Nigerian writer.The Lovereading view...A powerful and compelling coming of age novel of a family, a faith and a country, all in an awful turmoil. It has been highly rated by reviewers Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
This review is provided by bookgroup.info.This is a re-telling of a familiar and historic fairytale - how a beautiful young queen falls from enchantress to public enemy. As she attracts increasingly bad press, both King and court choose to believe the worst about her. Suzannah Dunn adds her own stamp to the catastrophic story of Anne Boleyn. Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. We all know the deaths of Henry's six wives, but how much is known of their lives? This is the starting point for Dunn's clever, compelling new book - the obscure and intriguing life of Anne Boleyn. The story is told by two narrators, Queen Anne on the eve of her execution and Lucy Cornwallis, who was the only female cook in Henry's kitchens, and had the important role as the King's sweet maker. It becomes clear that Lucy is the eponymous queen, and whose subtleties - delicious sugar and marzipan confections, could rival any mistress for the King's affection. As we all know, Henry's court was a dangerous place, full of intrigue and plot, especially for a young queen who had yet to forge powerful alliances. Gradually Anne becomes deeply woven into a web of deceit as her enemies conspire to bring about her downfall, through whatever means they could. This also went as far as a near total discrediting of her only child, Elizabeth; but as they say, the rest is history. How you feel about Queen of Subtleties depends on your view of historical novels in general. So little is known about Anne's life, because her enemies simply erased or blackened her memory and Suzannah Dunn has pieced together a jigsaw puzzle of known and fictionalised pieces. This cleverly creates a plausible and enchanting version of Anne's life, written in a completely modern, vernacular style. This book certainly challenges preconceptions about Anne, and I rather hope that she was, as Dunn has written, a courageous, likeable and quick-witted woman. The Lovereading view...A lovely author giving us a fresh spin on Anne Boleyn. This time she is clever and independent minded rather than scheming and deviant
Top-notch crime and historical fiction in one package. This is the second in the Erast Fandorin series and it’s simply enormous fun to read.
This review is provided by bookgroup.info.Greene’s brilliant, thought-provoking, novel is set in Vietnam. It is 1952 and the country is trying to regain independence from the French. This is the background for a story that is ostensibly about love and political intrigue, yet works well on a symbolic level - the characters representing the complex and ambiguous interests of the Americans and British in a post-colonial Far East. The narrator is Fowler, a dissipated English journalist who sees himself as a ‘reporter’ not a ‘correspondent’. He believes he can report dispassionately on the war without being involved – it is only when he experiences it at first hand that he is forced into engagement. His love for Phuong, a young Vietnamese woman, brings him into conflict with Pyle, the eponymous Quiet American. The title hints at the layers of irony within this short but dense novel: as the French inspector says, “yes, a very quiet American” when Pyle’s body is found. Fowler’s commentary belies the cynical, world-weary persona that he presents to Pyle: “I thought that if I smelt her skin it would have the faintest fragrance of opium, and her colour was that of the small flame. I had seen the flowers on her dress beside the canals in the north, she was indigenous like a herb, and I never wanted to go home”. The film of the novel was due to be released in the autumn but in the patriotic fervour following 9/11 it was delayed because, above all, it is a criticism of American interventionist foreign policy that is as relevant today as it was then.The Lovereading view...One hundred years ago a writer was born who captured the essence of the 20th Century like no other: Graham Greene. To mark this, literary publishing house Vintage is reissuing eight titles with new introductions by contemporary authors such as JM Coetzee and Zadie Smith.
A novel about racism, prejudice and injustice in the post war years in London as Jamaicans, escaping economic hardship, move to the Mother Country. Told from four characters’ points of view, it deserves all the accolades and prizes it has received. Powerful yet light in touch, humorous yet high in drama, it is a most rewarding and touching read. Won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2004 and on the 25th Jan 2005 the Whitbread 2004 overall. Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
A 2012 World Book Night selection. A novel about racism, prejudice and injustice in the post war years in London as Jamaicans, escaping economic hardship, move to the Mother Country. Told from four characters’ points of view, it deserves all the accolade and prizes it has received. Powerful yet light in touch, humorous yet high in drama, it is a most rewarding and touching read. Won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2004 and on the 25th Jan 2005 the Whitbread 2004 overall. Comparison: Monica Ali, Hanif Kureishi, Zadie Smith.
Winner of Best Read of the Year and the Literary Fiction Award at the British Book Awards 2005. David Mitchell entices his readers on to a rollercoaster, and at first they wonder if they want to get off. Then - at least in my case - they can't bear the journey to end. Like Scheherazade, and like serialised Victorian novels and modern soaps, he ends his episodes on cliffhangers and missed heartbeats. But unlike these, he starts his next tale in another place, in another time, in another vocabulary, and expects us to go through it all again. Trust the tale. He reaches a cumulative ending of all of them, and then finishes them all individually, giving a complete narrative pleasure that is rare. A 2011 World Book Night selection. Our Editorial Guru, Sarah Broadhurst, has suggested others book and authors that would be perfect for you to read next or to pass on the recommendation - so your gift will keep on giving enjoyment. Her selections for this title are: Neal Stephenson, Iain Banks, Simon Ings.
This review is provided by bookgroup.info.'What's wrong with being a taxi driver?' asks Degna,in the TAXI DRIVER'S DAUGHTER. Well, exactly. Admit it, there may be sheer pleasure in being cocooned and sound-proofed in the back of Mac's taxi, breathing in his air-freshener and Extra Strong mints, and noticing, for the first time, city churches, pubs, undertakers and pavements piled high with basket ware from Botswana. Mac's wife, Louise, is jailed for three months for assaulting a policeman with the stiletto heel of ashoe she has shoplifted from Fenwicks. Mac's teenage daughters, Stella and Caris ('I might pierce my clitoris too'), are adrift without her. Mac's sherry-and-nicotine-pickled mother-in-law moves herself into the box room 'to help'. A family visit to Louise in jail? Don't ask. While Stella, with 'A's in all her subjects, begins to clean obsessively, Caris imagines that a strange feral boy (with a gold credit card) is a prince who will take her away from it all. Caris is forthright, brave, unaffected and her bedroom and clothes are a mess: she has the energy and honestyto dominate the story. Stella tries hard to stop everything disintegrating. Stella and Caris wouldgladden and frighten the heart of any father. Julia Darling is as gifted a storyteller as anyone around in this third millenium. She is subtle, fascinating and modern without the gimmick of eccentric punctuation. She makes a very fine art ofbeing easy to read, while giving one pause to understand the deeper meanings in her book. There is, of course, the folly and the bitter cruelty in sending the mother of a family to jail for shoplifting. But I think THE TAXI DRIVER'S DAUGHTER is about today, our predicament, and our isolation brought on to some extent by television, better housing, and the difficulty of finding time to stand back and see the whole picture. THE TAXI DRIVER'S DAUGHTER's unpredictable ending left me wondering uneasily what would happen next, and very anxious to know. While Darling’s prose style is spare, her images are very eloquent. Towards the end of the story, the bronze of a large banana (paid for, no doubt, with a Lottery grant) is transported inch by inch through Newcastle's rush hour, escorted by policemen on motorbikes. 'More bloody art!' shouts Steady Eddy, seething in the tail-back. Meanwhile, in the park, Maurice and Ned are told to take ladders and remove the collection of shoes hanging in the tree. Maurice grumbles to Ned. 'They wouldn't take it down if someone from fucking London had done it', he says waspishly. Ned doesn'tanswer. He likes his job... Oh, I do love you, Julia Darling.
A 2012 World Book Night selection.“ Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…” is probably one of the most famous first lines from a novel and captures the readers interest immediately. What is Manderley? Why is our narrator dreaming about it? The story is relayed to us by the second Mrs de Winter who is not even given a name throughout the novel, as if to emphasise how insignificant she is compared to her predecessor, Rebecca. This book is haunting, chilling and packed full of intrigue. Who was Rebecca, why did people love her so much, was she good or evil? The narrator is constantly searching for answers to questions that no-one seems to want to answer but the truth that has been hidden for years is about to be revealed. A true classic. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
This is considered one of her best novels and does deserve such praise. A wonderfully descriptive book, it is the attention to detail that makes this such an absorbing read, you can picture every line on each character’s face, each subtle movement that they make. Another book of love, longing and loss beautifully told.
A 2013 World Book Night selection. One of my favourite books of 1998, the sort that, on completion, leaves you stunned and really does stay with you for – well, in my case – years as it was 10 years ago that I read it but now, with the film coming, it’s going to be back in the limelight. That sensation of admiration is still with me. Clever, beautifully written, short, stark and hard-hitting, it is a tale of sex, guilt and shame with the holocaust raising its ugly head in an original and alarming way.
February 2012 Guest Editor Joanna Trollope on J.G. Farrell... He won the Lost Booker prize for Troubles and the real Booker – forever ago - for The Siege Of Krishnapur. I love the elegance of his writing, and the wit, and the sense of the absurd, and the way he can transport you to a whole crazy other world. He drowned, off the coast of Ireland, when he was only 44. A real loss. The Lovereading view... A new edition of the 1973 Booker Prize winning novel. A brilliant, dark humorous book about the decline of colonialism and an exploration of class, race and culture in general. Great stuff.
Ex-philosophy teacher Jostein Gaarder & Albert Knos stimulate 15 year old Sophieto ask those fundamental questions which have exercised the imaginations of Children Philosophers since the dawn of civilisation.