Archive for May, 2009

That time of the month…

Beautiful Sunderland (not often I say that..)

Beautiful Sunderland (not often I say that..)

Well, things are looking up. After a week of gloom, snottiness and an all round under-the-weather feeling, the sunshine finally appears to have arrived just in time for the weekend. And, unusually, I don’t have a million and one dull things to do, so I might actually get to see a bit of it! What could be better- Sunderland seafront on a warm afternoon with a Frisbee, a book and an ice cream? Bliss.

 And not only that, but it’s only five days until the first Sunderland Book Group Author Event when we shall be visited by the lovely Alice de Smith. So hopefully you have all done your homework- read and paid attention to Welcome to Life- and will turn up in your best frocks (even the blokes…) with questions at the ready. And don’t worry- Alice is going to come along to the group, have a chat with us and then disappear to let us discuss the book, so all shades of opinion still welcome…

Look forward to seeing you all at on 3rd June at The Place Café (I hope!) at 6pm. And enjoy the sun. xx

Alice in Sunderland (really)!

Coming soon: the lovely Alice de Smith

Coming soon: the lovely Alice de Smith

I have an announcement to make; indeed, I almost feel like a drum roll is necessary. Okay, just imagine…. (Laura clears throat) “I am pleased to announce the inaugural Sunderland Book Group author event! New writer Alice de Smith will be joining us at the next meeting!” Phew- that was good….

But, seriously, I am really excited. Having a living, breathing author there will lend us a whole different perspective on the novel and make us think a bit differently about the whole writer/ reader relationship. I suppose it’s something that, as readers, we don’t usually question. But this has started me wondering- who can say what a book is “about”? Does the person who wrote it really have any more insight than the reader or is it just another perspective? How much does the author’s life/ personality/ experiences influence a book? Does it matter? And just how scary is it for an author to have to deal with 20 people who might just pull their baby to bits??? So many questions- my mind is racing.

And that’s on top of all of the questions that I think the book itself raises- about childhood, parents, class, convention, relationships, what it is to be “a woman”. It strikes me that Welcome to Life can seem quite light but really does make you think about all of those awkward things which adolescence throws into question. And, with all of its talk of recession, it all seems spookily prescient- though I’m a child of the 80’s, so no wonder its all weirdly familiar.

Anyway, we shouldn’t run out of things to talk about with Alice (if it’s anything like usual she’ll be lucky to get a word in edgeways!!). Enjoy the book and have a lovely (wet) weekend. x

White Tiger or White Elephant?

Me on realising my venue faux-pas!

Me on realising my venue faux-pas!

Thanks for a wonderful book group last night! It was a lot of fun- despite my venue muddle!- and great to have some very vigorous White Tiger discussion, encompassing everything from what constitutes a “Booker Prize winner” to the movable definition of civilization. For all we weren’t completely convinced by White Tiger, I think it managed to generate some really interesting discussion.

We’ve got a special treat this month, a sneaky pre-publication peak at a first novel and a hardback. Surely, the definition of luxury! And it’s also quite exciting that this is a regional author. Well, okay, Alice de Smith is originally from Cambridge but we’re certainly claiming her as our own- she’s been based in the Newcastle for a number of years and has written extensively for the Live Theatre, among many other things. She also won a Northern Writers Award in 2007 which helped to bring Welcome to Life into being. So, it will be very interesting to be among the first people to  see what we make of it. And you’re a difficult lot to please- if Welcome to Life wins your approval, it will be better than winning the Booker! Enjoy the read. x

About the group

Sunderland Book Group meets on the third Wednesday of every month at 6pm at Holmeside Coffee in Sunderland.

If you would like more information about what the group is reading, please visit

May 2009
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