January 2016 Read: The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher and Other Stories by Hilary Mantel
Collections of short stories are always popular with some group members – especially those who commute to work daily and find it satisfying to be able to read a complete story during one journey. The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher and Other Stories was no exception, provoking a lively and wide-ranging debate when we met in late January. Responses to the stories were mixed, and there was a general consensus that some of those in the collection were much better than others. Comma, in particular, provoked some disagreements and very different reader responses. Personally it left me cold and I didn’t really get what was going on. My own favourite in the collection was Winter Break, with its inevitable but horrific ending. The group identified a unifying theme in the stories – so many of them seemed to a feature a woman in some way confined, or constrained or controlled.
Earlier in the month, at one of out ‘extra special’ meetings, we discussed the ideas raised by Owen Jones’ The Establishment. So lively and engaging was the political discussion that those who attended all wanted to do it again so, rather than interrupt the pattern we all enjoy of eclectic reading and unexpected discussions at the end of each month, a new series of ‘Political Readings’ meets has been started. The next one is on 14th April when we’ll be reading Honorable Friends by Caroline Lucas – the only Member of Parliament who represents the Green Party. The book reflects on her experience of entering Parliament at the general election in 2010 and her struggles, as a lone backbencher, to affect change.
A few events that members may be interested in going to…
Always Wanted to Write a Novel? 18 February, St Mary’s University, Twickenham, 6.30pm
Our members have been invited by organiser David Savill to join him at St Mary’s University in Twickenham for an informal evening introduction to creative writing. David says:
On the evening of February 18th, Bloomsbury published novelist David Savill invites you to come and talk about your writing ambitions at a free open evening, at St Mary’s University in Twickenham. This local university is now in the third year of successfully nurturing first time novelists through a Masters degree. Last year, guest speakers on the course included Costa Award winner Nathan Filer and Bloomsbury’s own director of fiction. The course runs part and full-time in the evenings, and is tailored to mature professionals attempting to write a novel for the first time. The open evening is informal, so come and have some cake and tea, and explore your ideas with a publishing novelist and tutor.
St Mary’s University, Waldegrave Road, Twickenham 18.30 – 20.00 TW1 4SX
I’ve put this evening up as an event on our meet up pages so that members can hook up and go together if they like. Sadly I can’t be there as I’m away that week.
Angry White People, London Review Bookshop, 15 March 2016, 7.00pm
In Angry White People (Zed Books) award-winning author and investigative journalist Hsiao-Hung Pai delves deep into the day-to-day lives of the most marginalised section of the white working class. In this fantastically daring book, she follows a group of individuals caught up in the wave of far-right street movements in the UK beginning in 2009. On 15 March, at the London Review Book Shop Hsiao-Hung Pai will be discussing her book with Owen Jones (whose The Establishment the group read in January ’16) Tickets are £10. Further details and booking here.
Forthcoming Book Group Meet Ups
Thursday 25 February, Light on the Common, Wimbledon Village, 7.30PM
For February we’re reading Red on Red by Edward Conlon, a Harvard grad turned New York cop turned writer. Red on Red is Conlon’s debut novel – a literary thriller which highlights the twisted dynamics of police parternship and there’s a crime to be solved too – but he has an established reputation as a fine and reflective writer. Thursday 25 February, 7.30pm, at Light on the Common, Wimbledon Village.
Thursday 31 March, Light on the Common, Wimbledon Village, 7.30PM
In March we’ll be discussing the controversial work of Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines, originally published way back in 1987.
Bookclub discussions are always littered with recommendations and references to other intriguing sounding books: however tempting they might be, there’s only a limited number of bookclub reading slots each year. But we decided last night that it would be a good idea to try to capture these ideas, so here goes.
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (added Jan 16)
This book was a close contender as our book choice for March 2016 but just lost out to The Songlines. A young adult/cross-over story, it has just won the Costa Book of the Year 2016. “When Faith’s father is found dead under mysterious circumstances, she is determined to untangle the truth from the lies. Searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. A tree that feeds off whispered lies and bears fruit that reveals hidden secrets. But as Faith’s untruths spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter…. ” The Costa judges said ““We all loved this dark, sprawling, fiercely clever novel that blends history and fantasy in a way that will grip readers of all ages.”
Cindy also talked about a book of poetry, “I’m Gonna Miss You All”, written by one of her former colleagues, but I’m afraid I can’t find any details.
2. Brought to Justice by Kevin Wark
3. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
4. The Bhuddia, Jeff and Me: A Modern Story by Edward Canfor-Dumas
5. The Bees by Laline Paul
If you have other books you’d like to be considered for book group reads, please just drop a note in the comments box below and I’ll add them to the list for next time.
The Fine Print
Buying Books and Book Group fees
Wimbledon Village Reading Group is free for all. Unlike many other book clubs, there is no fee to join and no fee for coming to meetings.
Wimbledon Village Book Group Meetings
Wimbledon Village Book Group usually meets on the last Thursday in the month, at 7.30pm, at Light on the Common (formerly known as Light Café), 48 High Street, Wimbledon Village, London, SW19 5AX (other than in June when Wimbledon Fortnight forces other arrangements). The restaurant is very relaxed and informal. It serves delicious, often locally-sourced food, does remarkably good smoothies and is fully licensed with a decent wine list, but there is absolutely no requirement for you to eat or drink if you don’t want to.
New members and guests always welcome. Come along – just look out for the table with books on the table, or ask the staff who know who we are! You can join the book group here, but you don’t have to join on line to participate. It is helpful though if you can let me know if you are planning on coming to a meeting so that I can forewarn Light on the Common about number.
There are no fees or charges for joining the book group or attending meetings. It costs about £60 a year to maintain the group’s pages on Meetup.com. If you buys books from the links in this newspaper, there’s a little (very little) commission, which helps offset those costs.
And don’t forget that you can keep up to date with all reading group news by following @sw19bookclub on Twitter.