Archive for February, 2013

Not quite “The Most Beautiful Thing”…

Valentines biscuits- sadly, tastier than the book...

Valentines biscuits- sadly, tastier than the book…

Rather appropriately for Valentines Day, our February book was called “The Most Beautiful Thing”.  But although it did generate a whole load of brilliant discussion covering mental illness, Amsterdam and our relationships with our mum’s (eek), ultimately it was a book that promised rather more than it delivered, with lots of interesting threads that never quite came together. We did enjoy the heart shaped Jammie Dodgers though… WHAT WE LIKED

  • Really intelligent portrayal of mental illness- Joe’s depression and breakdown, possible Asperger’s/autism, very believably and sensitively depicted. Interesting to get  “inside Joe’s head”.
  • The character of Nell- very unusual and dynamic female character who felt like the book’s central figure.
  • The web of dysfunctional relationships and a real sense of how one bad relationship can cause another another.
  • The death. We didn’t see it coming. Some liked it come didn’t.


  • WHERE WAS THE PLOT?! Many found reading the book intensely frustrating, because so many interesting things were touched on and happened “off-stage” but nothing much actually happened in the book.
  • Most characters (except Joe and Nell) underdeveloped.
  • The two part structure. Although some liked the first section and others the second, we all agreed that there was a disconnect between the young and old Joe.
  • The ending; it was all a bit unbelievable, and felt that Nell’s death was a device so Joe could “recover”.
  • Really felt like a first novel- overdeveloped in some places, underdeveloped in others- and could have done with a bit more editing.

All in all, SOME good stuff but mainly not brilliant (although, interestingly, most people said they’d read whatever she read next). For the next meeting we’re straying from our usual territory and trying a crime novel, on the recommendation of Sharon who heard the author, Dreda Say Mitchell, speak at the 2012 Durham Book Festival. I NEVER read crime novels and am looking forward to trying something different. Hurrah! See you there.

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 2013