The Book Club has been meeting on a monthly basis for over a year and a wide variety of books have been read. It has spurred many of us to start reading books again and for those of us who already read a lot, it is an opportunity to read genres of books outside the usual preferences.
The group now meets in the lounge at the Bulls Head on a Wednesday evening…Oh and we bring snacks. If you has never been to a book club before, let me explain what happens: At first we talk about the book, what we liked and didn’t like. Discussion of other topics follows, accompanied by snacks and drinks, and the next book is chosen. Often, people still come along, even if they have not finished the book!
There have been a couple of trips out to the Astley Book Farm and to the Ibstock Palace Friday night cinema to dee “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
We have had a lot of interest through the Facebook group, but if anyone else would like to join then please get in touch for more details. Also you can be added to the WhatsApp group for updates.
If there are a group of friends that would like to meet up at another time, we could pass on the books we have read (the physical ones obviously, not Kindles). Get in touch
BOOK CLUB CLASSICS LIST – Put together by Kathy Elkin
Nailstone Book Group – Classics List 2019
(nb also including some children’s classics that you might never have read….) Send Kathy E additional classic titles as you think of them please.
Testament of Youth – Vera Brittain – Chosen for March/April/May 2019 and will be discussed at June 2019 Book Club
Middlemarch – George Eliot (for later in the year)
By the time the novel appeared to tremendous popular and critical acclaim in 1871-2, George Eliot was recognized as England’s finest living novelist. It was her ambition to create a world and portray a whole community–tradespeople, middle classes, country gentry–in the rising provincial town of Middlemarch, circa 1830. Vast and crowded, rich in narrative irony and suspense, «Middlemarch» is richer still in character, in its sense of how individual destinies are shaped by and shape the community, and in the great art that enlarges the reader’s sympathy and imagination. It is truly, as Virginia Woolf famously remarked, ‘one of the few English novels written for grown-up people’.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
To escape from his violent and drunken father, a 13-year-old boy from the wrong side of the tracks, Huckleberry Finn, fakes his own death and floats away on a raft down the Mississippi with Jim, a runaway slave. In a series of unforgettable adventures narrated by Huck, they encounter a cross-section of characters from slave-hunters, thieves and conmen to feuding aristocrats and even some relatives of Tom Sawyer. This was the first major American novel to be written in the vernacular, a dark and funny satire that exposes the bigotry and hypocrisy of provincial America during Mark Twain’s lifetime.A rite of passage for every young reader, this book also amply repays a reading later in life : “As fresh and funny as ever. ,A must for every bookshelf.”
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre ranks as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction. Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage.
She is forced to battle against the exigencies of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order. All of which circumscribe her life and position when she becomes governess to the daughter of the mysterious, sardonic and attractive Mr Rochester.
However, there is great kindness and warmth in this epic love story, which is set against the magnificent backdrop of the Yorkshire moors. Ultimately the grand passion of Jane and Rochester is called upon to survive cruel revelation, loss and reunion, only to be confronted with tragedy.
Persuasion – Jane Austen
What does persuasion mean? – a firm belief, or the action of persuading someone to think something else? Anne Elliot is one of Austen’s quietest heroines, but also one of the strongest and the most open to change. She lives at the time of the Napoleonic wars, a time of accident, adventure, the making of new fortunes and alliances.
A woman of no importance, she manoeuvres in her restricted circumstances as her long-time love Captain Wentworth did in the wars. Even though she is nearly thirty, well past the sell-by bloom of youth, Austen makes her win out for herself and for others like herself, in a regenerated society.
The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot
Like other novels by George Elliot, “The Mill on the Floss” articulates the tension between circumstances and the spiritual energies of individual characters struggling against those circumstances. A certain determinism is at play throughout the novel, from Mr Tulliver’s grossly imprudent inability to keep himself from “going to law”, and thereby losing his patrimony and bankrupting his family, to the series of events which sets Maggie and Stephen down the river and past the point of no return. People such as Mr Tulliver are presented as unable to determine their own course rationally, and forces, be it the drift of the river or the force of a flood, are presented as determining the courses of people for them.
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Attwood
(this was a set text at school for some – who highly recommend it)
Offred is a Handmaid in The Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known as the United States. She is placed in the household of The Commander, Fred Waterford – her assigned name, Offred, means ‘of Fred’. She has only one function: to breed. If Offred refuses to enter into sexual servitude to repopulate a devastated world, she will be hanged. Yet even a repressive state cannot eradicate hope and desire. As she recalls her pre-revolution life in flashbacks, Offred must navigate through the terrifying landscape of torture and persecution in the present day, and between two men upon which her future hangs.
BlackBeauty – Anna Sewell
(Free on kindle, get a box of tissues!)
Black Beauty is a perennial children’s favourite, one which has never been out of print since its publication in 1877. It is a moralistic tale of the life of the horse related in the form of an autobiography, describing the world through the eyes of the creature. In taking this anthropomorphic approach, the author Anna Sewell broke new literary ground and her effective storytelling ability makes it very easy for the reader to accept the premise that a horse is recounting the exploits in the narrative.
The gentle thoroughbred, Black Beauty, is raised with care and is treated well until a vicious groom injures him. The damaged horse is then sold to various masters at whose hands he experiences cruelty and neglect. After many unpleasant episodes, including one where he becomes a painfully overworked cab horse in London, Black Beauty finally canters towards a happy ending. Although Anna Sewell’s classic is set firmly in the Victorian period, its message is universal and timeless: animals will serve humans well if they are treated with consideration and kindness.
There have been many film and television adaptations of the story, but it is only the novel that captures the authentic voice of the central character.
Little Women – Louisa May Allcott
(Kindle edition 49p – anniversary edition illustrated, American Civil War period, first and best of a series of 3 novels)
For generations, children around the world have come of age with Louisa May Alcott’s March girls: hardworking eldest sister Meg, headstrong, impulsive Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. With their father away at war, and their loving mother Marmee working to support the family, the four sisters have to rely on one another for support as they endure the hardships of wartime and poverty. We witness the sisters growing up and figuring out what role each wants to play in the world, and, along the way, join them on countless unforgettable adventures.
Railway Children – Edith Nesbit
(free on kindle)
In this much-loved children’s classic first published in 1906, the comfortable lives of three well-mannered siblings are greatly altered when, one evening, two men arrive at the house and take their father away. With the family’s fortunes considerably reduced in his absence, the children and their mother are forced to live in a simple country cottage near a railway station. There the young trio — Roberta, Peter, and young Phyllis — befriend the porter and station master. The youngsters’ days are filled with adventure and excitement, including their successful attempt to avert a horrible train disaster; but the mysterious disappearance of their father continues to haunt them. The solution to that painful puzzle and many other details and events of the children’s lives come to vivid life in this perennial favorite, a story that has captivated generations of readers and, more recently, delighted television and movie audiences. In this inexpensive, unabridged edition, it will charm a whole new audience of young readers with its warmth and appeal.
The Far Away Tree – Enid Blyton
(available as a collection more than as single books) Best to buy 2nd hand judging by the listings on Amazon)
The Magic Faraway Tree Collection contains all three much-loved books in the Faraway Tree series by the world’s best-loved children’s author, Enid Blyton.
When Joe, Beth and Frannie move to a new home, an Enchanted Wood is on their doorstep. And when they discover the Faraway Tree, it proves to be the beginning of many magical adventures! Join them and their friends Moonface, Saucepan Man and Silky the fairy as they discover which new land is at the top of the Faraway Tree. Will it be the Land of Spells, the Land of Treats, or the Land of Do-As-You-Please? Come on an amazing adventure – there’ll be adventures waiting whatever happens.
Beloved – Toni Morrison
(Info taken from Wikipedia)
Beloved is a 1987 novel by the American writer Toni Morrison. Set after the American Civil War (1861–65), it is inspired by the story of an African-Americanslave, Margaret Garner, who escaped slavery in Kentucky late January 1856 by fleeing to Ohio, a free state. Morrison had come across the story “A Visit to the Slave Mother who Killed Her Child” in an 1856 newspaper article published in the American Baptist and reproduced in The Black Book, a miscellaneous compilation of black history and culture that Morrison edited in 1974.
Beloved begins in 1873 in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the protagonist Sethe, a former slave, has been living with her eighteen-year-old daughter Denver. Sethe’s mother-in-law, Baby Suggs lived with them until her death eight years earlier. Just before Baby Suggs’ death, Sethe’s two sons, Howard and Buglar, run away. Sethe believes they fled because of the malevolent presence of an abusive ghost that haunted their house at 124 Bluestone Road for years. The story opens with an introduction to the ghost: “124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom.”