Archive for November, 2009

And now for my opinion…



Lionel Shriver gets the heave-ho

I may not have been physically present on Thursday but you can be assured I was there in spirit- wondering whether anyone would come, wishing I could be there too and extremely curious to see what you all made of A Perfectly Good Family. And, thankfully, my mind was put to rest very soon afterward; my spies inform me  that it was a fantastic meeting, with a fantastic turn out and brilliantly lead by the lovely Catriona. The only downside seems to have been the book itself- it sounds like it wasn’t a favourite, criticized in chief for being boring and repetitive. This makes it even more annoying that I missed the group; I feel like I’ve missed out on a great argument, as I was all set to defend it!  But luckily I have a WHOLE BLOG to argue my case- I think Shriver writes excellently, deceptively sparse yet razor sharp and incisive, about the awkward things that go on in out heads and within relationships which we might prefer to ignore. Her characters are incredibly well drawn too- I felt like I knew them all intimately (maybe too intimately in some cases!)- and that she’s not scared to make them unsympathetic to her readers. On the downside, I think sometimes she takes it too far- for me and there’s a cruel streak which runs through the writing which I find heavy going at times. I began to crave some generosity of spirit, a bit of acceptance of frailty and weakness. And, more prosaically, I also think the book DOES get pretty boring toward the end….


Onward to the next one then- to Joe Speedboat by Tommy Wierenga. This is the polar opposite and that “feel-good factor” you’re yearning for I think you could be in for a treat. This one’s a one to make you smile and feel full of the (fast-approaching) Christmas spirit of joy.  So get reading- you’ve only got three weeks to go until the next one! xx

The link between books and squirrels…



My new best friend...

Books are great. I always suspected it but now it’s really being tested. My extended stay with the NHS continues, with every day very much like the last and not really able to do, well, anything except sitting down activities and there’s only so much Loose Women a girl can take. So I am racing through stories like there’s no tomorrow and have found some gems- Lorrie Moore, Zoe Heller, Samantha Harvey and the fabulous Lynn Barber memoir My Education, which the New Writing North girls got signed for me when she appeared with Nick Hornby at the Durham Book Festival (I never thought i’d be wished “Get Well” by Nick and Lynn…). Some really great reads and lots of ideas for future book groups! I’ve even managed to track down a fellow book lover and we are already operating an informal book swapping scheme. So it’s only books and the squirrel who lives in the tree outside my window are keeping me sane.


I am missing real life though, and can’t believe I’ve managed to miss both Lionel Shriver and Durham Book Festival. The report I’ve heard are all very positive though- I’d love to hear what you thought if you made it along (comment below!!). I’m also keen to hear what you’re making of A Perfectly Good Family– it seems like a while since I read it now but please let me know!

A reminder, as well, that the book group date for November has changed- the meeting is next week, Thursday 12th at 6pm in Cafe Roco. Lovely Liv will be hosting so treat her well! xxx

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

November 2009
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