Rodmell Book Group is friendly and informal and anyone interested is welcome to come along. We meet to talk about books, mostly novels but sometimes memoirs or biographies, old and new. Meetings are held from September to July inclusive on the last Wednesday of the month (except in November and December 2022). We meet at the Abergavenny Arms at 6.30pm. Not everyone will like (or finish) every book, but that doesn’t matter as it makes for a more interesting and lively evening. If you’re not able to attend a meeting but would like to contribute to the discussion, please feel free to circulate your thoughts in advance using the email address list at the top of the most recent message sent to the group.
See below for a list of the books we’ve chosen for the year beginning September 2022. Books can usually be found at the Lewes Library. Otherwise, copies can be bought online (second hand or new) at discounted prices from Amazon, Abe Books, The Book Depository, World of Books, Marketplace Books and Ebay.
If you’d like to be on the book group email list, please contact Catherine Crisham (email@example.com).
|Book Titles, who chose it and their Comments|
|28th September 2022||‘ARIADNE’ by Jennifer Saint, chosen by Jane Finch
Ariadne is a wonderful read. The story follows the lives and loves of Ariadne and her sister Phaedra, daughters of King Minos, also Theseus, Prince of Athens and Dionysus, the god of wine. It was nice to be in the head of the women involved in the story of Theseus, and to see what was going on around the Minotaur story. To be honest this is not the kind of book I would normally read, but I was captured right from the beginning. I enjoyed the writing style and it took me only a few days to read.
|26th October||‘WHOLE OF A MORNING SKY’ by Grace Nichols, chosen by Barbara Adderley
published in 1986. Grace Nichols is primarily a poet which is reflected in this her only novel. It deals with her upbringing in Guyana, her life there as a child as well as the political situation as it impinges on the family’s lives. She is a Lewes resident and has received numerous prizes for her poetry including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1983 and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2021. It’s an interesting read and relevant to race relations and colonialism.
|23rd November||‘HERE WE ARE’ by Graham Swift, chosen by Pauline Ford
Recommended by my sister-in-law and niece who have both read it in different book groups, and the setting is Brighton. It’s 1959 in Brighton and the theatre at the end of the pier is having its best summer season in years. Ronnie, a young magician, and Evie, his assistant, are top of the bill, drawing a full house every night. And Jack is everyone’s favourite master of ceremonies, holding the whole show together. But as the summer progresses, the drama among the three begins to overshadow their success onstage, setting in motion events that will reshape their lives. A novel of love in the world of 1950s vaudeville from the Booker Prizewinning author of Last Orders and Mothering Sunday.
|14th December||‘THE HOUSEKEEPER AND THE PROFESSOR’ by Yōko Ogawa, chosen by Jill Harrison
A brilliant maths professor with a peculiar problem – ever since a traumatic head injury 17 years ago, he has lived with only 80 minutes of short-term memory. She is a sensitive but astute young housekeeper who is entrusted to take care of him. Each morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are reintroduced to one another, a strange, beautiful relationship blossoms between them. This is translated from Japanese and has a fascinating insight into mathematical thought.
|25th January 2023||‘QUEENIE’ by Candice Carty-Williams, chosen by Nicki Myers
A darkly comic and bitingly subversive take on life love race and family. I haven’t read it yet. Shortlisted for the 2019 Costa First Novel Award and won the 2020 British Book of the Year.
|22nd February||‘REASON FOR HOPE’ by Jane Goodall, chosen by Liz King
Dr Jane Goodall’s revolutionary study of chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Gombe preserve forever altered the very definition of “humanity”. At one with nature and challenged by the man-made dangers of environmental destruction, inequality, materialism and genocide, Dr Goodall offers insight into her perception of these threats. Plenty of copies available on eBay.
|29th March||‘THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB’ by Richard Osman, chosen by Louise Woollard
In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders. But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.
This was recommended to me as I enjoy reading crime novels but I haven’t actually got around to reading it yet!
|26th April||‘DEATH AND THE PENGUIN’ by Andrey Kurkov, chosen by Catriona Grant
I haven’t read this book yet, but am intrigued by it! Originally published in 1996 in Russian, Kurkov is a Ukrainian author. Viktor is an aspiring writer with only Misha, his pet penguin, for company. Although he would prefer to write short stories, he earns a living composing obituaries for a newspaper. He longs to see his work published, yet the subjects of his obituaries continue to cling to life. But when he opens the newspaper to see his work in print for the first time, his pride swiftly turns to terror. He and Misha have been drawn into a trap from which there appears to be no escape.
|31st May||‘CLOTHES, CLOTHES, CLOTHES. MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC. BOYS, BOYS, BOYS’ by Viv Albertine, chosen by Nicki Myers
The guitarist for seminal female punk group The Slits recounts playing with Sid Vicious, touring with the Clash, dating Mick Jones, inspiring “Train in Vain,” and releasing her solo debut in 2012 Viv Albertine is one of a handful of original punks who changed music, and the discourse around it, forever. Her memoir tells the story of how, through sheer will, talent, and fearlessness, she forced herself into a male-dominated industry, became part of a movement that changed music, and inspired a generation of female rockers.
|28th June||‘THE GRASS IS SINGING’ by Doris Lessing, chosen by Jane Dugdale
Set in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) under British rule, Doris Lessing’s first novel (pub 1950) is both a riveting chronicle of human disintegration and a beautifully understated social critique. The Grass Is Singing blends Lessing’s imaginative vision with her own vividly remembered early childhood to recreate the quiet horror of a woman’s struggle against a ruthless fate.
I read this recently and it held the situation in Southern Rhodesia up to scrutiny – be warned it starts with a murder. Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007.
|26th July||‘AMY AND LAN’ by Sadie Jones, chosen by Barbara Adderley
It’s an enjoyable read, life in the countryside as seen through the eyes of children. It’s set in the ‘90s, three couples having left the rat-race behind to live a more authentic life with all its trials and tribulations. Very funny in places and with some good comments on society. This has only just been published and has had great reviews and picked by The Guardian as a summer 2022 read. Quite expensive at present but should become cheaper later in the year. ‘A beautiful haunting novel about the limits of love and the loss of innocence’.