Archive for February, 2010

Away: The Verdict

What did the judges think?

I don’t usually go in for predictions- I’ve learnt, much to my own discomfort, that book groups don’t usually go the way I think they will. The books I go in ready to defend have been adored and I’ve been given hell almost every time I think I’m going to get an easy ride. But, with Away by Amy Bloom I just got a feeling in my bones that it wasn’t going to go down well…

So why was this? Was it the “cluttered” feeling to the writing? The lack of any believable or sympathetic characters? The strange and rather deflating end? The fact that, by the end, I couldn’t have given two hoots whether Lillian found or did not find her daughter????

I think you’ll have realized by now that I didn’t think much of this book and so I’m willing to admit that I may have been a wee bit bias in predicting that you’d all feel the same. But reports back suggest that this was pretty close to the book group consensus, with a majority feeling the book to be ultimately unsatisfying. Like me you seem to have judged the major problem to be Lillian, who was found to be difficult to empathize with (despite the horrors of her story) and lacking a convincing inner voice which would have helped readers to understand her motivations. Without this strong central character I certainly felt that the power which the story could have had was diminished. I will, however, give an honorable mention to the brave few who did enjoy it and judged it colourful, energetic and a great story. Apparently, like me, you were also mostly in favour the device of giving quick resume of a character’s life before they left the plot (the best little trick of the book, in my opinion).

I’m glad you also all had a giggle about all the sex- quite a lot, I thought for such a short book. Apparently, Kelly said she thought Lillian was a slapper! I think I might agree.

Anyway, it’s great to hear that there was a good turn out and that you all had a good time. Hopefully you’ll like the next one, De Niro’s Game, a bit better and, with bit of luck, I might even be there to argue with you all in person! I can’t wait.

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

February 2010
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