Glasshopper: Neither like nor dislike

Sometimes it’s hardest to do a good book group when most people think a book is just “okay”. I think we felt that a bit this month- Glasshopper proved pleasant but not inspiring. I get a bit wound up about books like this, so we ended up talking about other books and drinking wine. This was the gist of what we thought: 



  • We generally all liked it, in a muted sort of way (except Kelly who HATED it). 
  • The characters, in particular those in the the 80’s/ Jake section were well drawn. There was lots of tiny detail which lots of us recognised.
  • Described as “easy to read” and well written.
  • Sympathetic treatment of depression/ alcoholism, and interesting how both things are viewed and treated differently depending on the gender of the sufferer.
  • Very effective use of a split narrative, which sometimes can be a bit gimmicky but here was used to brilliant effect. The jumping back and forward in time and between jake and his mother  demonstrated effectively and movingly the effect of one generation has on another.


  • We were mainly a bit underwhelmed- it was described (very aptly) as “pedestrian”. It was like it had been designed by committee for book group discussions. 
  • Most thought the book lost the plot (literally and metaphorically) when it moved to France. The fervent defenders of the book argued that they read it as a kind of “dream sequence”/ ending but the rest were entirely unconvinced!
  • The end. What? Why, after the event (trying desperately not to do spoilers!), did everyone just carry on as if  everything was okay? We weren’t convinced. Though admittedly couldn’t come up with a convincing alternative…
  • Most of us less endeared to the Mary side of the story.
  • We felt that it was a bit too “plotty” toward the end (EVERYONE was sleeping with EVERYONE and having illegitimate kids all over the place) and maybe the book needed a better final edit/ paring down. It has that “first novel” feeling that everything and the kitchen sink has been chucked at it.

The funniest thing about the meeting was the fact that Hit Girls has now become book group short hand for everything that is bad. There was a lot of “Well, I didn’t like [Character A/ a plot point/ a particular use of language] but at least it wasn’t Hit Girls. I can see this is going to keep us amused for a long time

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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

April 2013
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