Fiction, non-fiction and food kept four of us bubbling with converation until late at our book club last night.
Judy recommended Edward Rutherfurd’s books – “Ireland Awakening”, “The Forest”, “London” (also enjoyed by Ailsa for its details of social history), “Russka”, “Sarum”, “Dublin” and “New York”.
“I’ve devoured them all – usually on long plane trips,” she said.
“Ireland Awakening” runs from the 1600s to the present day and offers historical insights that were not offered to us as school students. Judy was not proud of one of her relatives, Yelverton, the Lord Chief Justice, which led us to discussing the problems of assessing his behaviour in the light of today’s values. Would we have behaved any differently if we had lived in those times?
Judy describes Rutherfurd’s books as being incredibly well researched, taking history beyond timelines into the social and religious beliefs of the places he writes about and the political consequences of those beliefs.
Ailsa went online to the local library to order Emily Perkins’ new book – which commentators are predicting to be the next Man Booker prize winner (“though the long list is not out yet, says Ailsa, let alone the short list). She has found the book easy to read so far, but finds the chronologically jumping around a little disconcerting.
Mary brought along Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking”, following up on one of Joan Didion’s previous titles which we read as a book club, “Blue Nights”. Both titles deal with grief and loss, one with the death of a husband and the other with the death of a daughter. Mary found “The Year of Magical Thinking” self-indulgent – a view we shared about “Blue Nights”.
My hairdresser recommended Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” to me, and I am looking forward to reading it. Judy and her husband enjoyed reading my copy of “Outliers” so much they have bought their own copy – as a strong recommendation as a book is likely to receive. Judy says the book indicates that fame and success frequently come to people because of chance factors beyond their personal control – effectively, their stars were in alignment. Judy describes the book as “highly readable”.
Judy lent me Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”. It is an easy and thought-provoking read which deconstructs the ways critical mass is achieved – useful for a professional communicator to have new insights into how to make an idea persuasive. I feel the need to own this book, too – must look out on Trade Me.
I read Mary’s copy of Anne Tyler’s “The Beginner’s Goodbye” – another with a grief and loss theme. Mary and I agreed it was insightful and not self indulgent. I love Anne Tyler’s characters – not heroes or villains, but ordinary mortals with ordinary human foibles. I better not say too much, as “The Beginner’s Goodbye” is our set book for a later meeting.
Continuing on my Jeffrey Eugenides exploration, I read his first novel, “The Virgin Suicides”. Iggy read it first and nodded in agreement when, about a third of the way through, I sighed “This is boring.” The book did pick up from there. Eugenides steps boldly into taboo territory, dealing candidly with the challenges of being young and female, of being young and male, and with living in a home with an overly restrictive mother. It’s a grotty book – and perhaps a gritty book. Not a good choice if you need cheering up!
Members of one book club I belonged to would talk frequently about what country you should visit. We strayed into less expensive territory, comparing notes on what café you should visit – great coffee at The French Tart by the Fairfield Bridge (Judy), a long, leisurely and luscious lunch at Woodside Café (Judy), stunning Sunday lunch at Zinc (Ailsa) and I highly recommend the home-cooked food at Mavis and Co, next to the Deloittes Building in Hamilton East.
We would love to know
a) a couple of hot favourite titles from your book club and
b) your favourite Hamilton cafe – and why you like it.