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For all of you in reading groups and need guidance to select your next group read look no further than our reading group category. Why not print off a few opening extracts to read before you decide?
For the readership, this is a huge historical novel to immerse yourself in. A dramatic, violent, absorbing, long read for which you need to put aside serious time to devour. You will find it difficult to put down. Charting the lives of two families, the Sels and the Duquets from 1693 to 2013, it tells of the rape of the Canadian natural resources, namely timber and fur but predominantly timber. Hard men made fortunes with little regard for anything but power and wealth, certainly not for their workers’ lives or limbs. The first of the immigrant Sels married an Indian; their offspring are then trapped between two cultures. As you would expect, there is a huge number of characters for characters is what Proulx is all about. This is a truly impressive work detailing the destruction of the forests to the point of ecological disaster.
Two parallel stories, set in two time frames, where second chances and the links between two women flicker and burn with energy. In Chicago during 1999, Madeleine tells her own story as she flounders in a loveless marriage, she finds a journal and as she reads, describes her Grandmother’s story, which begins in 1919. As Madeleine discovers her grandmother, can she also re-discover herself? Eleanor Brown has a wonderful eye for detail, the descriptive detailing encouraged smells, sights and sounds to travel from the page into my consciousness. The two stories, full of life and emotion, twist and merge together into a beautiful relationship tale, yet for me, it was the subtle bitter sweet notes of reality that really added substance to this novel. ‘The Light of Paris’ traverses time and continents, in a captivating and gorgeously told, hope filled tale, it really is very lovely indeed.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2017. This is such a gorgeously expressive novel, it just sings with intensity, and is impossible to put down. Nine year old Leon loves his little brother Jake and his mum, he looks after them both as best he can, when Leon and Jake have to go and live with Maureen, Leon hatches a plan. Kit de Waal writes with a beautiful, sincere energy, the simplicity of the tale told from Leon's point of view allows a complicated backdrop of emotions to shine through. At times my heart absolutely ached, yet there are also proper laughter blurting moments, and I just wanted to gather everybody up into a huge, squashy hug. The 80’s, with it’s curly wurlys, royal celebrations, and riots is the perfect setting. A gloriously motley collection of characters come to life, each and every one of them is indispensable, and each affected me in some way. ‘My Name is Leon’ is a stunning, eloquent, stinging paper-cut of a read, I fell in love with it, and in turn, it left me full of hope. ~ Liz Robinson Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2016
Told by many voices, some wise, some wicked, this is the story of a close community under unbearable strain. What is the breaking point where neighbours and even sisters will turn against each other? The older people remember the Great Plague of 1348, an unimaginable horror that decimated Europe, England and the village of Porlock. Now Porlock is threatened once again, but is this natural disease God’s will or the curse of a witch? A mother of lost sons, a religious fanatic, a dwarf ex-jester, a lonely noble woman and others each tell their side of this harrowing story. Charm and sensitivity run throughout the narrative making this a frighteningly believable story. Medieval Porlock is skilfully evoked and some of the landmarks of the story are still visible today. A moving and disturbing tale of humanity pushed to the edge of society and beyond collapses. Those who fear the fashionable modern ‘zombie apocalypse’ would do well to read this and remember that the past also held life-changing horrors. Exciting, enthralling, enticing, disturbing and enjoyable, this is a wonderful read. ~ Sarah Broadhurst Click here to view a Reading Guide for The Plague Charmer.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | April 2017 Book of the Month. A captivating and subtly beautiful novel, where heart-catching surprises lie in wait. Alex recalls life on the road at the age of 13, a trip undertaken with Mom, where lessons are learned, and the truth within explored. The writing here is exquisite, the story evolves so simply, gradually revealing the complications that life has to offer. Sara Taylor placed me in the seat next to Alex, I joined this intimate, evocative journey meandering from the east to west coast of the USA, and I didn’t want it to end. The wonderfully sensitive writing creates blasts of feeling, and woke my awareness as prickles of revelation travelled up my arms from the page. These characters feel so touchingly real, Alex opened my eyes, I smiled, I ached, I wept. ‘The Lauras’ is an absolute delight of a read, and it touched my heart. ~ Liz Robinson Click here to download some Reading Group questions for The Lauras.
April 2017 Book of the Month. An absolute page-turner of a novel, at times uncomfortable, yet powerful and oh so compelling. Roni and Nika meet when they are 8 years old, as the years pass their relationship changes, yet in their thoughts they remain as entwined as ever and a particular torment lives on. Dorothy Koomson sends us backwards and forwards in time, this isn't an easy ride, and it isn't meant to be. The jagged, almost serrated feel to the change in time lines meant I was alert and at times apprehensive as I watched events unfold. The story is so commanding it keeps you firmly in the moment, so aware of the pain and fear, waiting with bated breath yet still shocked as more revelations occur. Resolute, heart-rending, thought-provoking, and so beautifully compassionate, ‘When I Was Invisible’ left me with a tear in my eye and touched my heart. One of our Books of the Year 2016.
Despite the title – The Summer Before the War – which this terrific novel does indeed trace, it also spills into the horrors of the war years and eventually releases us back into some sort of very different peace. Set mostly in pretty coastal Rye, full of the strictures of Edwardian Society, it is evocative and very moving, highlight the prejudices and injustices of the early 20th Century. Agatha, whose husband is in the Foreign Office, is campaigning for a woman to replace the Latin Master in the local Grammar School. A group of Belgian refugees arrive, splitting the opinions of the community, then the new Latin Mistress befriends an old Gypsy’s grandson seeing his potential and wanting to school him for a scholarship. War arrives and the author powerfully highlights the ignorance, stupidity and insensitivity of those in command against the resilience and courage of the ordinary soldiers. It is heartbreaking, beautifully written and well researched. An excellent read. One of our Books of the Year 2016.
Three years ago Cardiff born Ellie moved into a small block of twelve flats in Kensal Rise, London. Her life is dull. She does tele-ad sales for a trade mag and then suddenly she gets postcards from Greece addressed to a S. Ibbotson at her address. They are from an “A” in Greece as he travels round the country. She loves them and sticks them to her flat wall. After a few months she is inspired to go there herself. As she leaves for the airport she picks up a small package from her post pigeon hole. It contains a notebook in “A”’s handwriting. So we learn the man, Anthony, was expecting his love to join him for a fortnight’s holiday though she never came. He was in Greece researching a book and has the advance which will last a year if he is careful. Dejected and in despair he goes travelling to forget, escape, lose himself … all those things Greece can offer, plus fantastic scenery and sunshine. As he is alone the locals embrace him and many tell him tales. There follows a series of short stories as he moves from village square to village square and listens. They are gentle, poignant, very Greek and quite charming. Some have religious undertones, some touch on mythology, quite a few are just human drama tales of love, deception, loss and sadness, although many do have happy endings. The most horrific is The Honeymoon, the sweetest Air on a G String. ~ Sarah Broadhurst One of our Books of the Year 2016.
A large collection of multi-national, mostly retired couples, invest in a new development of luxury apartments, La Joya, in Andalucia on the Costa del Sol in Spain. We follow a securely married Irish couple with a demanding family, an American mother of twin girls with a serial-womanising husband and a Spanish control freak with a wife who is attempting to find inner peace. Frequently visiting the complex is a German interior designer and letting agent married to a Spanish property developer and a highly efficient female Spanish community manager who looks after the place. In clean strokes the author paints their portraits in swift, interlocking sections, you get to know them all very quickly. All appears blissful until the Spanish economy plummets and the Irish euro hits rock bottom. Problems ensue both financially and emotionally with many a twist and surprise thrown at you. This is lively, sensitive and insightful, a big novel with plenty to get your teeth into. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
March 2017 Book of the Month. A tale of lost memories and hidden secrets but will the truth destroy or heal? Lisa Jewell returns with yet another page-turner as she delves into the darker corners of the mind where the memories of our true self exist. The memories that we'll do anything to keep hidden. Alice Lake is drawn to a man she spots sitting on the beach. He simply stares out to sea oblivious of the rain, a man who remembers nothing of who he is or where he came from. Alice offers him shelter and the opportunity to attempt to rediscover what or who he is running away from. But something sinister is lurking in his memory and as the past begins to come back to him he wonders if he is running away from a monster or if indeed the monster is actually him. This gripping read is not only a thrilling mystery but is also about accepting the past and learning to find a way to move on. Jewell keeps you guessing what the connections between threads and subtexts are until they all come gloriously together. A wonderful novel to escape in to. ~ Shelley Fallows One of our Books of the Year 2016. Click here to read an exclusive interview with Lisa Jewell by Mary Hogarth.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | April 2017 Book of the Month. Simply superb, ’Black Water Lilies’ has leapt straight into my heart and soul. Thirteen days in the heart of Claude Monet’s homeland, where murder, death, lies, and deceit stalk the village of Giverny. Three women and two investigators dance through a weaving, magical, almost dreamlike story. The prologue sent a thrilling chill coursing through me, I was immediately captivated and remained that way for the entire tale. This is most definitely a crime novel, yet it is also a mystery, and a story about love, I almost feel as though it shouldn't be categorised, but enjoyed instead for what it is, a stunning piece of literature. Michel Bussi is an award-winning French novelist, this is the second of his novels to be translated into English. Descriptions are so immediate and evocative I felt as though I was about to step into a Monet painting. The plot kept me on the edge of the frame, just on the edge of understanding as I viewed the scenes in front of me. The unexpected ending made me weep, not through sadness, but because, as my brain raced to catch up with the shock of awareness, my feelings were affected at a basic level, and I’m still affected by it now. As soon as I had finished, I just wanted to start reading again from the beginning. ‘Black Water Lilies’ has been a bestseller in France, and it deserves to be a bestseller here, it is, without doubt, a must read. ~ Liz Robinson A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher... 'I have to ’fess up, I did a French degree and am predisposed to love all things French. But that’s not why I love this book. Why I love it is that it is such a clever and compelling read – mystery after mystery is revealed as the story unfolds, and at every turn you meet a new and fascinating character. For me, one of the best ‘characters’ is the village of Giverny itself – by day, a mecca for tourists from all around the world; by night a place where decades-old rivalries and secrets play out behind closed doors. And then there’s the twist . . . I immediately wanted to go back and read the whole thing again!' ~ Kirsty Dunseath, Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Prepare for your heart to break… this is a powerful, evocative tale of life during the Nazi occupation of Jersey in the 1940’s. The first page made me flinch, yet I couldn't, didn't want to stop reading. Ten year old Claudine, herbalist Edith, fisherman Maurice, and Dr Carter see very different sides of the occupation, using such different characters stops it from being a sweeping historical tale, instead it’s personal, intimate, penetrating. Caroline Lea’s pen gives you a massive shove as you read, and doesn't apologise for it as your stomach goes into free fall. ‘When the Sky Fell Apart’ is at times a truly uncomfortable read, yet it deserves to be read, not only for the blast of reality from the past, but also as a warning for the future. ~ Liz Robinson March 2017 Debut of the Month.
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 dicussed. 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.
As one reader has said: "How has it taken me so long to find this treasure of a site? As an avid reader and member of a book group you will be invaluable in selecting future reads. Thanks again for a wonderful site." Angela Whiley