Thursday, March 26, 2009

March Reading Round Up | Book Club Review

The middle place / Kelly Corrigan
Autobiography of Kelly's fight with breast cancer in parallel with her father's fight with prostate cancer. Also about her struggle to deal with the fact her father hero is not always going to be around. I have to admit I did get a bit fed up with her angst regarding her Dad. But then I don't like to think about my Dad not being around anymore so maybe I should look to myself a bit more!

The independence of Miss Mary Bennet / Colleen McCullough
Lizzy Bennet married Mr Darcy, Jane Bennet married Mr Bingley - but what became of the middle daughter, Mary? Discover what came next in the lives and loves of Jane Austen's much loved Bennet family in this Pride and Prejudice spin-off from an international bestselling author Readers of Pride and Prejudice will remember that there were five Bennet sisters. Now, twenty years on, Jane has a happy marriage and large family; Lizzy and Mr Darcy now have a formidable social reputation; Lydia has a reputation of quite another kind; Kitty is much in demand in London's parlours and ballrooms; but what of Mary? Mary is quietly celebrating her independence, having nursed her ailing mother for many years. She decides to write a book to bring the plight of the poor to everyone's attention. But with more resolve than experience, as she sets out to travel around the country, it's not only her family who are concerned about her. Marriage may be far from her mind, but what if she were to meet the one man whose own fiery articles infuriate the politicians and industrialists? And if when she starts to ask similar questions, she unwittingly places herself in great danger?~ from the blurb.
Very much enjoyed this one, though there were a few dramatic turn arounds in thought/attitudes from some of the characters that had me a bit startled. P&P fans will like this one I think.

The uncommon reader / Alan Bennett
What would happen if the Queen became a reader of taste and discernment rather than of Dick Francis? The answer is a perfect story... The Uncommon Reader is none other than HM the Queen who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace. She reads widely (JR Ackerley, Jean Genet, Ivy Compton Burnett, and the classics) and intelligently. Her reading naturally changes her world view and her relationship with people like the oleaginous prime minister and his repellent advisers. She comes to question the prescribed order of the world, and loses patience with much that she has to do. In short, her reading is subversive. The consequence is, of course, surprising, mildly shocking and very funny.~ the blurb
LOVED this one. We were amused. A short one but a goody.

The various flavours of coffee / Anthony Capella
In 1896 London, impoverished poet Robert Wallis accepts a commission from eccentric coffee merchant Samuel Pinker to categorize the diverse and elusive coffee flavours, an assignment that will transform his life as he falls in love with his assistant, Pinker's daughter Emily.~ from the blurb.
Very much enjoyed the lyrical descriptions of coffees as well as the tangled love story. The ending is a little different but nonetheless happy and satisfying. Mmmmm ... coffee. I would recommend this one, and also his other book, The food of love which I read last year.

March Book Club Book

Extremely loud and incredibly close / Jonathan Safran Foer
Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies, Beatles memorabilia, state quarters, miniature cacti and coral. When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, his inward journey towards some kind of peace takes him on an odyssey through the five boroughs of New York, as he attempts to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father's closet. ~from the blurb

Did you like/dislike the book?
I took a while to get into this book. There are several "voices" and stories running at the same time, and the presentation is different. Oskar seems rather precocious for a nine year old but then, I'm only used to pre-schoolers and 5 year olds so far! His search for what door the key opens leads him to meet all kinds of people and I liked reading about the characters he comes across, especially the old guy upstairs with the "magnetic" bed. I can't say I enjoyed this book as much as February's but they are entirely different styles. I found some of the story line a bit unconnected in parts and some of Oskar's imagination is pretty fantastic for what I remember thinking at 9 years old. Overall, I was pleased to read it but I don't think I'll bother chasing up the other books by this author at this stage.

I will edit this post with links to the other book circle member's reviews as they become available.
Janine, Sandra, Suzannah, Con, Heather, Sharon,

Did it affect you in any way?
I must say some of the stuff in there brought back memories of the 9/11 incident. Oskar's relationship with his mother is strained and that made me feel uncomfortable because I tended to identify with the mother! I found the grand-parents story irritating and frankly, I don't think I really got what the author was trying to do with it! Call me dense, but there ya go. It's all part of the fun of book clubs - reading things that you might not ordinarily pick up.


  1. Always love reading your monthly round ups, Penny.

    ALL those titles appeal to me. Now to find the time to read them all, lol.

    I wasn't aware Colleen McCullough had a new book out. Thanks for letting us know :)

  2. Great review of the bookcircle March book,Penny - off to write mine. (And I can't see Sandra's review as you need to be invited to see her blog which is a shame as I'm interested in what everyone else thought about this one)

  3. i wished there had been more clarity or resolution to the grandparent parts--but i did like their story.

    thanks for the well wishes:)

  4. I read this one a while ago and posted about it then ( I too related to the mother and would have liked to have heard more of her story. I found the contrast of the Desden bombings and the New York ones interesting. A reminder that terrible things have happened before and will probably happen again (sadly).

    Just started the April book!!