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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?
Anna Karenina is the story of a woman who throws everything away to be with the young soldier she has fallen in love with, recklessly disregarding the consequences of her actions. In the Compact Edition philosophical and political sections have been outlined rather than given in full, some lengthy descriptions have been pruned, including descriptions of society life in Moscow and St Petersburg, but none of the passion, intrigue or momentum is lost
Contrasting rural Iranian life and traditions with a London immigrant's affluence, this is an impressive work of love, family and identity.
This is a brilliant book: disturbing, amusing, thought-provoking, playful, real, unreal. All the usual Faulks intelligence and enjoyment of language is here. Yet Engleby is different from his other books. This time, you get the feeling Faulks has let you into his own life: school, university, Notting Hill, journalism (the interviews with Jeffrey Archer and Ken Livingstone just can’t have been made up). There is a catharsis here – and, despite the disturbances in Mike Engleby’s brain, you can feel Faulks really enjoying his writing, making this book perhaps more approachable than some of his other subjects. It is an absolute travesty that Sebastian Faulks has never won a major British Book Award, especially as Birdsong is generally recognised as one of the greatest novels in contemporary fiction. Hopefully, Mike Engleby will do it for him (he doesn’t do much for anyone else). Time is one of the themes running through Engleby. Make sure you take time to read it.
Interestingly told from the point of view of three women, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and the dreadful Jane Boleyn, this is the Tudor Court brought vividly to life again by a real pro. What a violent and frightening man Henry VIII was. Gregory notes at the end of the book that little is known about Anne or Katherine so she has a free run of how things went, consequently she has produced a thrilling tale.Similar this month: None.Comparison: Jean Plaidy, Reay Tannahill, Suzannah Dunn.
An uplifting tale of sickness and survival - this is Bee Lavender's riveting story of a childhood spent dealing with a host of life-threatening illnesses.
A great historical novel following the picaresque adventures of Jennet, daughter of the last Witchfinder of Mercia and East Anglia.
This review is provided by bookgroup.info.Salie, the narrator of this story, is a Senegalese woman now living in France. Her little half-brother, MadickÃ© dreams of joining her there. He believes, like many of his Senagalese brothers, that the route to France is via football. In his frequent phone calls to Salie he begs her that if she can only get the fare to him he can get a trial with a French team and become rich and famous. Salie despairs. She knows the truth about life as an immigrant and urges MadickÃ© not to believe the mendacious stories of returnees like the â€œman from BarbÃ¨sâ€ and others. Salie was an outsider on the little Senegalese island of Niodior because she was illegitimate. She left to marry, got divorced, and now feels that she belongs nowhere. Home is neither France nor Senegal and she tries to convey this to MadickÃ©, in terms he will understand. She explains to him that even the most successful Ã©migrÃ© footballers are subjected to racist taunts and abuse. But MadickÃ© doesnâ€™t believe her and assumes that she must be rich and comfortable if sheâ€™s living in Europe. (The recent riots involving young immigrants in the Paris Banlieu and the Zidane â€œincidentâ€ in the 2006 World Cup are testimony to Salieâ€™s warnings). This is an incredibly rich book in which Fatou Diome manages in a mere 182 pages to convey an incredible amount of information. She tackles immigration, modern life in French west Africa, feminism, politics, economics and polygamy, the scourge of African society, a practice that, she believes, prevents progress. She writes:â€œIf only men would stop measuring their virility in the number of children they produce. You donâ€™t need a maths degree to grasp that the more people there are the less bread here is for each person.â€ This isnâ€™t to say that the book is simply worthy. It is full of amazing characters, and while it may suffer a little from the translation, it is written with wonderful poetic description and wry humour.
This review is provided by bookgroup.info. William Wilson, a Glaswegian boozing conjuror, down on his luck and working the lower cabaret clubs of London, is made an offer he canâ€™t refuse â€“ the chance to work in a Berlin night club. The timing couldnâ€™t be better. William has become embroiled in a missing person case with one Inspector James Montgomery, a corrupt former copper, at its centre. But he doesnâ€™t find an escape route in Berlin. Here he meets Sylve an exotic American who becomes his stage assistant and who tempts him into performing his most daring illusion - the bullet trick â€“ for a mysterious rich client. The result sends Wilson running in total confusion back to his native Glasgow which is where the story begins. Louise Welsh weaves together the two stories in this gripping thriller, cleverly cutting between the cities of Glasgow, London and Berlin in an act of prestidigitation worthy of her chief protagonist. Much has been made of the idea that Welsh may be the author to cross the genre novel with literary fiction. Donâ€™t let this influence your reading of it. Read THE BULLET TRICK for what it is â€“ a clever, exciting, well-written, thriller â€“ and if it happens to get a Man Booker nomination then good luck to her. But I doubt if it will. Click here to read an exclusive interview with Louise Welsh
Shortlisted for the Best of the Orange Best 2010 by the Orange Prize Youth Panel. Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2006. This review is provided by bookgroup.info.Fans of WHITE TEETH may be a bit disappointed with Zadie Smith’s latest novel. ON BEAUTY is not such a rollicking good read as her first book but what it lacks in pace it makes up for in characterisation and depth. The novel lays out its credentials from the first sentence: ‘One may as well begin with Jerome’s emails to his father.’ and goes on to draw much of its narrative from the plot of E M Forster’s HOWARD’S END. Smith’s story revolves, as does Forster’s, around two families who, although from a similar strata of society, have opposing political and moral viewpoints. Set mainly at Wellington, a fictitious Ivy League university, ON BEAUTY explores the rivalry between two art-historians: Howard Belsey – English, inclusive, liberal– and the ultra conservative, Christian, Monty Kipps. Despite being African American, Kipps refers to ‘the coloured man’ and wages a campaign on the campus against affirmative action. Inevitably, the two families get involved and the ensuing tensions provide great potential for high drama as well as comic situations. Some episodes are very funny indeed. Zadie Smith is very good at human relationships, family dynamics specifically, and some of her scenes are painfully convincing. By referring to Howard’s End, the author creates parallels and counterpoints between Edwardian England and the US east coast of the early twenty first century. Although, whereas Forster’s novel ends with the symbolic death of Leonard Blast under a pile of books, Howard’s ‘end’ in ON BEAUTY is not only a hugely optimistic redemption of his character but an affirmation of the value of love and beauty.This homage to Forster does beg comparison with someone who was a master of economy in his writing. In just a few spare subtle sentences he could illustrate the British class system in all its iniquity and complexity and it makes Smith seem a bit clunky and heavy-handed by contrast. That said, ON BEAUTY is a very accomplished novel, a good read and provides plenty to consider about love, fidelity, identity and the nature of beauty.The Lovereading view...Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2006. Set on both sides of the Atlantic, award-winning Zadie Smith's third novel, On Beauty, is a brilliant analysis of family life, the institution of marriage, intersections of the personal and political, and an honest look at people's deceptions. It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed.
The new novel from the bestselling, highly acclaimed and always controversial author of Atomised.
This review is provided by bookgroup.info.The cover of this book is a triumph of marketing over good sense. The title is, I guess, a parody and, along with the doughnuts (sorry, donuts), it makes the book look like yet another diet manual. All very smart, but it doesnâ€™t do justice to what is a hugely enjoyable and amusing story about a man who has the misfortune to be very rich and living in one of the most affluent and beautiful places in the world. Richard Novak has amassed a fortune by trading on the stock market and lives in a house on millionaireâ€™s row in LA. But somewhere along the way he has shut down emotionally and withdrawn from the world, his only contact being through the internet and with the various people who service his house needs. It takes a physical crisis and a visit to A & E to start his journey back to being a fully-feeling human being. Richard the recluse suddenly finds himself a local super-hero who saves a horse (hoisted out of a hole by a movie star with a helicopter), a woman kidnapped by a psycho and a man drowning at sea, amongst others. His ex-wife keeps turning on the television to see him at the centre of yet another drama. It is very funny and there are some telling off-camera moments, like the childâ€™s birthday celebration in a restaurant where the child, given a knife to cut the cake, repeatedly stabs it while his parents look on, bewildered.Through his random acts of generosity, Richard becomes involved with some great characters and goes some way towards redeeming his self-centred loveless years. He also, poignantly, begins to repair the pain he caused by abandoning his son, Ben.So, ignore the cover and the really rather embarrassing endorsement by Mark Haddon (â€œWeird and warm and wise and really rather wonderfulâ€), and read it. It wonâ€™t change your life but itâ€™ll certainly give you some pleasurable hours as well as an insight into California life as the apotheosis of consumer culture.
Perfect Books for Reading Groups
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.
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