Book Group

September 2021: 

Following the relaxation of Covid restrictions, the Rodmell Book Group is now able to meet again each month in person and plan to meet at the pub in future.

However, because the pub is no longer open on Mondays, we’ve had to change the day and time for our meetings to WEDNESDAY with a 6.30pm start. 

Therefore, unless otherwise stated, all meetings are now on the last WEDNESDAY of the month, and we meet at the Abergavenny Arms pub at 6.30pm.  If there are some meetings that you’re not able to attend, perhaps you could continue with last year’s way of contributing to the discussion, by circulating your thoughts in advance about the book we’re reading to the whole group, using the list of email addresses at the top of the most recent email sent to the group.


Rodmell Book Group is a friendly and informal way to read and chat about books. We generally meet on the last WEDNESDAY of the month, at 6.30pm in the Abergavenny Arms.  Please note the different date for our meeting in December.

A list of books we’ve chosen for the next year is published over the Summer – see the list below.  It’s a great way to read books you might not otherwise have thought about and to meet more residents.  Our discussions are very relaxed, over a drink, and not everyone will like (or finish reading) every book, but that’s fine as it makes for a more interesting and lively evening.

The books we read can usually be found at Lewes Library. Otherwise, copies can be bought online (new or second hand) at discounted prices from Amazon, Abe Books, The Book Depository, Waterstones Market Place, and Ebay. Sometimes, books are also circulated within the group.

In non-Covid times, we have organised a group walk each year, usually ending up somewhere locally for a cup of tea or coffee.  At our December meeting, we try to combine our Book Group meeting with a small Christmas get-together for drinks & nibbles.

Anyone interested in joining the Rodmell Book Group is very welcome – just come along to a meeting at the pub (and you don’t even need to have read the book of the month, although it helps!).

If you’d like to be on the Rodmell Book Group’s email list, please contact Catriona:

RODMELL BOOK GROUP:  BOOK LIST for September 2021 – July 2022  (list issued 17th August 2021)



Book Titles, who chose it and their Comments
29 September 2021


THE MERMAID OF BLACK CONCH  by Monique Roffey                           Judith Barnes

Set in the Caribbean, this tells of the relationship between a young fisherman and the – atypical – mermaid he meets. It won the 2020 Costa book of the year.

Margaret Atwood writes, “Not your standard mermaid. No comb and glass, no Lorelei hair. No catch and release…”


27 October ABSENT IN THE SPRING   by Mary Westmacott (Agatha Christie)          Jane Dugdale

On her way back from a visit to her daughter in Iraq, Joan is stranded in the middle of the desert due to flooding and is forced to re-examine her life.  Writing as Mary Westmacott, this is typical Christie material but without a murder.  Apparently, Christie said it was the book she’d always wanted to write.


24 November THE BLACKWATER LIGHTSHIP  by Colm Toibin                                        Catherine Crisham
This concerns 3 generations of women and the longstanding tensions between them which come to a head when they come together care for the young son of the family who is dying of Aids. Sounds gloomy, but there is humour in it and I think that he writes very well about women. Caused quite a stir in Ireland when it first came out (in 1999), in part because of the Aids issue, but also because it refuses to romanticise women and motherhood.  The Irish writer Colm Toibin is better known for Brooklyn, which we read in the group a few years ago.


15 December


AS I WALKED OUT ONE MIDSUMMER MORNING  by Laurie Lee             Jill Goldman

Abandoning the Cotswolds village of his childhood, the young author walks to London, where he makes a living labouring and playing the violin. But, he decides to travel further, and knowing only the Spanish for “Will you please give me a glass of water?” he heads for Spain where he spends a year travelling from North to South. Only the outbreak of a civil war puts an end to his adventures.


26 January 2022 HAMNET by Maggie O’Farrell                                                                        Madeleine Harvey

This is a re-imagining of shadowy parts of Shakespeare’s domestic life, dealing with love and loss, and the impact of plague. It won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2020.


23 February MERMAID SINGING  by  Charmian Clift                                                        Pauline Ford

Originally published in 1956, this memoir records the period when Charmian and her writer husband, George Johnstone, and their young children lived on a Greek Island – having left behind grey, post-war London.  The book was out of print for some years but has been rediscovered and championed by Polly Samson.  I originally chose it as a form of escape from Covid and everything surrounding it.  A wonderful evocation of island life, the people and the post-war changes to the local way of life.


30 March THE FIVE: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper  by Hallie Rubenhold   Catriona Grant

I heard about this book on the radio and wanted to know more.  Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met.  What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888.  Their murderer was never identified, but the name created for him by the press has become far more famous than any of these five women.  Historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, and gives these women back their stories.


27 April WHEREABOUTS by Jhumpa Lahiri                                                                Barbara Adderley

A haunting portrait of a woman, her decisions, her conversations, her solitariness, in a beautiful and lonely Italian city. Set in Rome, Lahiri wrote this in Italian then translated it into English.  I haven’t read this book, it has only been published recently but has had really good reviews.  I have enjoyed her novels dealing with displacement, Indians emigrating to The States to start new lives, for example, but this seems a new interesting venture.


25 May HOME GOING   by  Yaa Gyasi                                                                         Nicki Myers

I found it extraordinary; a terrible reminder of the horrors of slavery and the impact this has had on generations of families.  The story follows the descendants of two half-sisters in Ghana – one sister staying in Ghana and the other shipped to America.  The novel follows one of each of the descendants until the present day.  This is Yaa Gyasi’s first novel and has won numerous prizes.


29 June


THE BURIED GIANT  by Kazuo Ishiguro                                                        Liz King

I read this last year and was deeply moved by it.  A couple set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years. They expect to face many hazards, some strange and other-worldly, but they cannot yet foresee how their journey will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another. A book about the duty to remember and the urge to forget.



27 July




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