Monday, September 26, 2016

Thanks Sue W. for hosting us - the famous Papa's ricotta cake starred again. We missed Pat R who is in Tassie, and Jane and Liz. Even Maggie H was able to come this time, as she's in Sydney with family. Great to see her again at book group, looking tanned and bright after her sea change.

And yes, after 45 minutes we did talk about the book, The Turner House by Angela Flournoy. Overall, it was well-liked and stimulated lots of discussion.  We learnt about the politics of housing and poverty in Detroit - and good to hear it from a black family. The family dynamics were interesting, in the current generation and previous ones - the 'haint' intrigued us. This book was compared, favourably,  with Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread, which we read last year.

Next book is AS Patric's Black Rock, White City at my place (Pat S) in October. The November book will be Helen Garner's short stories, Everywhere I look, at Stella's. Then we break until January when we are invited to Pat Rayner's new place at Pott's Point.

Happy reading until we next meet on 30th October.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

August meeting - October book - AS Patric Black Rock White City

Thanks Ros for hosting the spirited discussion about Portnoy's Complaint, by Philip Roth. No trouble getting started on the book, in spite of 2 new grandchildren in the group. Book was thoroughly enjoyed by several of us, who found it funny and satirical, while others got annoyed by the sustained rant  - the complaint. We all found lots to talk about, plenty of quotable quotes. An interesting riff on the times, and a reflection on Masculinity and Jewish families. That doesn't do it justice - some of us were rereading after 50 years and finding that we had changed, finding it funnier, but not as sexy as before! Thanks to Liz for selecting it.

We decided pretty quickly on the Miles Franklin Award winner, AS Patric's Black Rock White City.
I'll be hosting the reading group in October, and Pat R will open her new Potts Point residence to us in January. November party venue to be confirmed.

We discussed our other reading - Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies, Chris Cleave's Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Our Souls At Night (not sure of author) and Fredrik Backman's A Man Called Ove, were recommended - for private reading!

July Meeting - September book - The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy

I didn't attend the July meeting at Sue E's place as Liz and I were at a quilting workshop.

I hear it went well, with mixed reviews for Jeanette Winterson's The Gap of Time, a reworking of the story of The Winter's Tale to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare's death (I think).

Tales of the cake spread throughout the land.

The meeting agreed on the September book, The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy. Sue W will host this meeting.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June meeting - (30th Anniversary) and August book details

Well, it was a great day for the 30th anniversary celebration.  Perfect weather for a trip to Avoca Beach. Thanks to Margaret for hosting us beautifully and providing a super lunch. Thanks to Moy for the picture book cake, decorated as only Moy can do it. Thanks to all those who could come and those who couldn't but have enlivened our group through the last 30 years. Pat R in particular, foundation member, sorry you had family business to attend to on the day - you were missed. Maggie sent a message which we read and enjoyed. Clare sent a message too as we revisited notes we had written 5 years ago, saying what book group means to us. We read these out, with a particular pang when we came to Clare's contribution. We each wrote a note about a special moment we remember from book group. These are also stored in the time capsule. Additions from absent friends are welcome.

Yes, we did talk about the book My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. Again Ferrante provided plenty of discussion, with everyone getting something out of the book, but some wondering what all the fuss is about. There are the true believers who have gone on to read more and more of her work and we thought that this is what is intended. The book doesn't entirely stand alone. Talk about autobiography, about the identity of the writer, about the translation, about the nature of brilliant friends. I left you all talking after hours, so I have to end the report there.

And the next book. Well, the Jeanette Winterson book, The Gap in Time is our July book and our August book will be a classic - Portnoy's Complaint by Phillip Roth.

Photos of the day from Sue E.

 And a collage from Liz.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

June meeting reminder - and 30th anniversary celebration!

30 years of book group!


We will be celebrating on Sunday with a lunch time meeting at Margaret L's home at Avoca Beach.

Festivities will begin at 11.30am. Margaret will provide lunch. Moy is baking a cake. We will need cameras and any old photos you can find.

I have the first blue book and will bring that along.

Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend should be a good conversation starter for this event.

See you there.

May meeting (Mothering Sunday) - July book (The Gap in Time - Jeanette Winterson)

Graham Swift's Mothering Sunday was the May book, for a very well attended meeting. Everyone was there except Liz and me - and of course Maggie! So I am relying on Ros's verbatim report here. Ros reported that most people liked the book - Margaret L, Sue Wood and Jane in particular. Ros herself was less impressed, as she 'didn't learn anything' from the book. Moy had thought it was repetitive on the role of the working classes, but Sue E advanced a theory that the orphan Miss Fairchild at the centre of the book may in fact have come from one of the rich families, hence their crossing of class boundaries for her.  It seemed that people found more to talk about in life than this book. There was not a long discussion of Mothering Sunday, but lots of lively talk.

Sorry I missed it  - please feel free to tell me if you disagree with my second hand report.

July book is The Gap in Time by Jeanette Winterson, which is a reworking of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. That will be at Sue E's home with the August meeting at Ros's place.

June meeting is rather special so I will give it a post of its own.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

April meeting (The Theatre of War) - June book (My Brilliant Friend)

We had an almost complete rollup at Stella's place - only Sue Ellyard wasn't able to attend.

Much talk of house buying and selling to begin. Then questions about how this book group got to choose this book. Not a novel. Not our usual kind of book. True. But there were several of us who didn't give the book a go. And some passionate speakers in favour of it.

It was noted that Ros spoke first, unusually. Ros liked the book but noted that it is a self help book - Doerries had things to work out and the books was used to help him and others. Most of the talk about the book focused on the use of Greek theatre in dealing with PTSD in modern war situations. Jane on notes had difficulty in getting people to give her suitable copy for the book report - we tended to go off topic, into some very interesting places!

Lots of discussion of the next book in June. Finally we came back to a writer we did only last year, Elena Ferrente. We all agree we read the wrong book for bookgroup last year, and we are prepared to give her another go. This time we will read My Brilliant Friend - which I hope will please us a bit more.

We will celebrate 30 years of book group in June. It will be a lunchtime meeting at Margaret Lackenby's place at Avoca. Lots of offers for overnight accommodation there or with our other Central Coast book groupers if we want to make it a longer stay.

Monday, March 21, 2016

March meeting - May book Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift

We met on 21 March, a lunchtime meeting where Moy provided three lovely salads and a rich baked cheesecake, which we thoroughly enjoyed before talking about the March book - The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau. Thanks Moy (and Peter) for unfailing hospitality in your lovely location.

I won't say we got stuck into the book - it wasn't as spirited as that! We mostly liked it, sort of, but found it problematic, with loose threads, themes opened but not explored, characters not fully realised, a bit directionless. Moy liked the book, but reported that her other book group had split 60/40 against/for - with strong feelings for or against. We were not so divided, with more middling reviews - 6/10 from Sue W, 5/10 demoted to 3/10 from Ros!

Still there was quite a bit to like, as an exploration of grief, with a likeable central male character in Stefan. The central idea of the bees as a lead in to global warming worked for some, but unravelled somewhat when explored further. Elizabeth entertained us with stories of her experiences on communes in Australia and New Zealand,  someone declared her stories better than Juchau's version of the hippie life! Most of us had read the book fairly easily but won't be recommending it to friends and family.

On to the next book, we decided on the Graham Swift book, Mothering Sunday for May.

To sum up next books are:

April - The Theatre of War - Stella's
May - Mothering Sunday - Jane's
June - TBC - Margaret's.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Important note: early date and time for March book club meeting

Please note that the March book club meeting will be held on 20 March, not 27 March as per our usual schedule. The 27 March falls on Easter Sunday. Time is 12.00 noon.

We will be meeting at Moy's place at Long Jetty on 20 March. To make travel easier, we will get together for LUNCH not afternoon tea, so please aim to arrive there at 12.00. Moy will provide a light and yummy spread and we will talk about the book afterwards.

February meeting - April book: The Theatre of War: What Ancient Greek tragedies can teach us today.

February meeting at Sue E's place was well attended. Only apologies were from Maggie - birthday celebration - Jane - Canberra for family obligation and Pat R - in the midst of house sales.

After last meeting, it was good to hear that everyone had read the book, Charlotte Wood's The Natural Way of Things, and generally declared it an interesting and well written book. Even Ros loved it, for the raw anger that poured out of it. We got straight into discussion and didn't stray too far away for hours! A book we will be recommending to friends and family.

There were several contenders considered for the April book and finally we decided on the well-reviewed The Theater of War: What ancient Greek tragedies can teach us today, by Bryan Doerries.
Stella will host the April book and Margaret has put up her hand for June. No decision yet for May.

January meeting - March book (The World without us by Mireille Juchau)

We met at Sue Wood's place, a good turn up to discuss the Booker Prize Winner, Marlon James' A Brief History of Seven Killings, except that not one of us - yes, that's right, nobody had read the book. The most anyone had read was 25% or a couple of hundred pages. Some like me didn't really make a start, after finding the first couple of pages impenetrable. We talked about criteria for Booker prizes, how they are judged, lots of things. We voted on the best and worst books of 2015. Best book was tied - The Children Act and Madame Bovary. I don't think there was a clear worst, maybe 'Only the Animals'. Some books were chosen as both best and worst by different people. Then we chose the new book after considering several options.  The March Book is The World without Us by Mireille Juchau and lets hope it pleases us better!