Book 22 – The Green Road by Anne Enright

Irish mothers have been well known to run tight ships, have exemplary behaviour from greenroadtheir off-spring at all times and to bestow their beliefs onto generations of their family until their last breath. Anne Enright manages to do just that as she takes you through the lives of one such family and the matriarch that sits at the helm.

This book certainly divided our book group as we came from many angles when dissecting the storyline. We all agreed that the mum, Rosaleen was a remarkable woman, one not to be crossed, which I’m sure has resonated with us all.

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Book 21 – We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Memories of 70s TV newsreels confirming that some towns in America were introducing chimpanzees into the family unit, will stick in the minds of those around then to believe it. Beside OurselvesRosemary takes you on her journey and the loss of her family through various means, as she tries to live a normal life after such an interesting childhood full of secrets and disappointments. Karen Joy Fowler excels in creating a world that you will not leave until the last page has been read.

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Book 20 – The Importance of Being Kennedy by Laurie Graham

The Kennedy clan have always been a family that has interested the world since well Importancebefore Marilyn Monroe sang a fantastic version of happy birthday and Jackie O set the trend for larger sunglasses. This book is written from the point of view of the nanny, Nora Brennan, who was brought into to their home to care for the brood of youngsters destined for the white house and so much more.

Initially, I couldn’t get excited about the book and felt as if I was going to suffer each page I had to turn to get to the end. But, thankfully, it warmed up and the content, if not the writing, kept me going. I, of course, had grown up hearing about the Kennedy Clan and knew, like us, they were a Catholic family and very high profile but I have to say it was a real eye opener to read (although a novel used maybe some poetic licence about the circumstances and reasoning behind the decisions made, particularly the lobotomy) how cruel and calculating Joe and Rose Kennedy were when they thought anything might interfere with their quest to have a son in the White House. To me, they were not good Catholics at all, a disgrace to the name. I have since read up about poor Rose Marie and some of the troubles her brothers and sisters invited/encountered and is it any wonder that they were such a dysfunctional family with that kind of example. The prose wasn’t great in the book but I did warm to the lovable, loving and down to earth story telling of nanny, Nora. 3.5/5

There is a morbid sense of fascination with the elite that adorn our TV’s while watching the news. I loved the way Laurie Graham tackled the events that Nora would have seen in her time with them. A fly on the wall look at one of the world’s most famous families but I wanted more. 3/5 

TOTAL SCORE: 23/35

https://wordery.com/the-importance-of-being-kennedy-laurie-graham-9780007228836

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Book of The Year – 2015/2016

Our fantastic book group is officially two years old. Happy 2nd Birthday book worms!

We have read some fantastic novels over the last twelve months and I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all the members of St Columbas Hospice Book Worms for their enthusiasm, witty banter and general loveliness. They have made such a great effort with attending all the meetings and reading everything thrown at them (not literally).

Without further ado, I can now announce the Book of The Year 2015/2016 is…

SUMMERTIME, ALL THE CATS ARE BORED by Philippe Georget

2016-04-26 20.52.03

 

 

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Book 19 – The House By The Lake by Thomas Harding

Set during the rise of Hitler, this is a factual story that takes you through the decades as seen through the various inhabitants of a lake house. The country was eventually divided and it’s Harding houseoriginal owners now faced a view of the Berlin wall rather than the lake. A must-read for all historians and would do well as part of school projects on the subject. An insightful and sobering read.

The House By The Lake was a very interesting and thought provoking read.  Hitler was never someone I wanted to know more about but it was good to read more on the subject about him, Germany’s division and his eventual rise to power. Personally, I found the book quite harrowing in parts, the brutal Russians and murderous Nazis have a lot to answer for. It didn’t stop me finishing it though as his writing style is very easy to read but I did need a break from it once or twice. 3.5/5

I have just finished The House by the Lake, our March book, and really enjoyed the way in which Thomas Harding wove the history of the Nazi uprising and fall over the century. It really opened my eyes to the fact that it all happened over a much longer period of time than I’d actually thought, quite naively. It really was eye opening to chart the move through time in the lives of all the different people who occupied the lake house and how they came to do so. I was fascinated and, at the same time, horrified by the turn of events. Got a bit fed up going to all the comments/notes at the end as, with my old Kindle, it’s not so easy to flick back and forward but I really enjoyed the history lesson, some new and revealing and other parts a reminder of how dreadful life can be when a nation is not happy, hasn’t work to keep the people housed, fed and nurtured and, in that atmosphere, Hitler could rise and conquer. 3.5/5.

One is well aware of the plight of the Jews in Germany in the run up to, and during, WW2 but I’m not sure I quite understood the horrors that befell German citizens once the allies agreed to carve up what was left of the country. It was thought provoking and pretty sobering reading 4/5

I started it with some trepidation. But surprised my self by enjoying it immensely . I particularly enjoyed reading about the history of the house from the acquisition of the land , it’s subsequent erection and latterly its fall into disrepair. It gave a fascinating insight into German social history and society’s changing values and attitude to Jews leading up to the First World War, the effect of both wars and finally the division of the land following the erection of the Berlin Wall. I was however somewhat disinterested in the minutiae of the respective families although as it was written by a descendant of the first family I guess it is understandable. Overall I enjoyed it. 3.5/5

TOTAL SCORE: 24.5/35

https://wordery.com/the-house-by-the-lake-thomas-harding-9780434023226

 

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Book 18 – A Capital Union by Victoria Hendry

The story reflects the destruction of war on a more emotional level and is told through the eyes of 15 year old farm girl, Agnes. Betrothed to a much older man who lives miles away Henryfrom the farm she holds dear, her move to the city brings with it the noise, glamour and snobbery you expect from a close-knit part of a bustling city. Her life will never be the same, can she survive living with a man who prefers to spend time with the up and coming SNP and their patriotic ways, or will she return to her life in the fields?

 

Agnes’ character was so resolute in what her life had become since she married the pathetic excuse for a husband, Jeff, that it took me a long time to warm to her. She was so young to have been married, but back then I suppose it was the norm. I so wanted her to be free and I was glad that she found some comfort in roaming the landscape around her. I willed her to leave him but I knew that wouldn’t happen. I loved the book because it explored Edinburgh during the war, a rare glimpse into what actually happened here rather than the other big cities in the UK. The historical element of the SNP was fantastic to read about, there aren’t many writers would take on such a momentous task. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and found the story intriguing and yet bewildering at the same time. 4/5

When I started the book, I thought I wasn’t going to like it at all as I’m not a great fan of stories written in the subjective. I also have to admit that I read this book when I first came out in the middle of January and, with all the trauma of my sister utmost in my mind, I couldn’t remember a thing about it when I received your email the other day. So, having just finished another book, I began it all over again and really did enjoy the tale of an innocent young country girl plucked from her family by “Professor Higgins” in the guise of Jeff, her new husband and transported to Edinburgh. Not such a happy ending for the pair as in Pygmalion/My Fair Lady though!

I thought some of the prose was really descriptive, particularly:

“Stuck in his teeth, summer fruit picked without thought”. Sums up the relationship completely.

My favourite phrase was one I would like Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon, etc to read – “. Nationalism isn’t glorious. It is a club that pens its members and leaves others to the wolves”.

I really hated the self centred and destructive nature of Jeff, who didn’t even see Agnes as a person in her own right but just fell under her spell because of her ability to further his study of Scottish dialect. He even insisted she dress in his dead mother’s clothes and I have to say I would have been there right beside her stoking the bonfire and cheering with every to addition to the pyre!

Agnes was extremely naive and I did want to kick her into reality quite a lot but I think that portrayal of her was quite clever as, after all, she was such a young girl who was excited by this suave and learned person who could take her places she had only dreamt about. She was infatuated, loved the attention of the learned Professor and thought the grass would be greener if she went along with him to the Big City. She had never before left the family home let alone marry and move away from all she knew and loved. She didn’t seem to know much about men and lacking the love and attention from Jeff she thought that Douglas’ kindness and flirting was a show of love for her. Dear me!

She was left a poor second to Jeff’s political ambition and dogged determination. In fact, I think he just saw her as a replacement for his mother – aedipus! This rendered her homesick with a yearning for love and attention. She was widowed and pregnant at 18 and only then did she show her natural spirit in rescuing Hannes, joining the Land Army and becoming her own person, accepting all the responsibility that entailed. 3.5/5

TOTAL SCORE: 30.5/40

http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-Capital-Union-Victoria-Hendry/dp/190864334X

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Book 17 – H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald

Falconry is not the most discussed subject on most people’s lips but this book certainly will give you everything you need if you ever feel the need to try it out. HawkHelen MacDonald’s award winning book is a story of becoming one with nature and the animals within to help get her through the grief she is feeling from the loss of her father. A factual book about caring for the majestic creatures, it also concentrates on the inner-turmoil felt when you lose someone you love.

This book had the book worms at either end of the scoring scale. Never before has a book had such an impact on us. We discussed it in great length along with her character compared to the world we now live in. It was agreed her life was certainly different to anything we had come across before. A fantastic book for any book group, it will get the conversation going and for some, will prove a very worthwhile read. Should be re-names M is for Marmite – you’ll either love it or hate it.

I am not adverse to reading factual books, especially on a subject I know nothing about. How else are we going to learn if we don’t branch out and see what else is out there? I had heard so much about this book, I was hoping I would agree with its award. Sadly, I don’t. I found it all a bit much. Her middle-class, selfish desires grated on me from the start and I found it hard to warm to her. There are a few factual points I will take from this book but I found I could not relate to it at all. 2/5 

TOTAL SCORE: 25.5/50

https://wordery.com/h-is-for-hawk-helen-macdonald-9780099575450

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