Archive for the 'Book club' Category

The Vegetarian – Han Kang

The_vegetarian_-_han_kangThis month’s book was this years winner of the Man Booker International Prize – The Vegetarian by Han Kang – which, interestingly, required the rules to be changed so that the prize could be accepted by both the author Han Kang and the translator Deborah Smith.

The general vote for this book was a positive one this month, it really is a beautiful, although sad, story – no one could say they were happy after reading even though it was technically an enjoyable read.

The story centres on Yeong-hye and is told in three parts through the eyes of her husband, her brother in law, and her sister. Although Yeong-hye is the main focus of the story, we do not see it through her eyes, we find out what others think of her and her actions, and how she affects others.

The novel starts out with her becoming a vegetarian and shows us how frowned upon the lifestyle is in South Korea, however it quickly becomes a commentary on mental illness rather than vegetarianism, and really teaches you a lot about the culture in South Korea, such as the submissiveness of women, and the hierarchical positions in the family and society in general.

Overall it is a great read, a passionate story and absolutely beautiful!

We currently meet at Holmeside Coffee on the third Wednesday of the month at 6.30pm, and in July we will be discussing The Waiting Room by F.G Cottam – hope to see you there!


Cuckoo for “The Cuckoo Calling”

imagesWell, this month we scored a rare and (almost) unanimous hit with Robert Galbraith’s (aka JK Rowling) The Cuckoo Calling! EVEN MARGARET LIKED IT!

Though not a challenging read by any means, all agreed that this is an easy-to-read page turner, that falls solidly into the very English tradition of the slightly eccentric private detective. Most of us enjoyed the  larger than life characters and Rowling’s uncanny ability to create an entire world which may not necessarily be realistic (some people commented on the rather sanitised, old-fashioned quality of the book) but is throughly believable if you take it on it’s own terms. A lot of us were kept guessing to the end about the identity of the murderer and all enjoyed the twisty-turny plot. Interestingly, it was a hit with our avid crime fiction fans and our crime avoiders- AND with Harry Potter lovers and haters alike. And everyone will be seeking out the next Cormoron Strike novel when it hits the shelves.

A rare moment of book group consensus. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts….



Private Life

Serendipity once again opened its doors to welcome our little book group. Fewer people attending this month, but we hope, we will be back to full numbers next month. Good news is that a few of the new members from January returned so we are not that scary after all.

This month we were reading Private Life by Jane Smiley, a book offering ‘a cold-eyed view of the compromises regarding by marriage’ according to one website.

Quite a lot of people found the book hard to get into, and the pace very slow. After 100 pages, nothing had really happened. Our readers also felt that while it was good to know what had happened in history while the book took place, it felt like the history was just background noise and not actually leading the book. It sometimes felt like history was forced into the storytelling. One reader particularly enjoyed the scientific theories of Andrew.

What we all could agree on, was that we were very happy that lives of women and marriage have changed since Margaret lived. We did not feel like it was a book about women on the same level as Little Women, as some critics had claimed.

See you all next month where we are reading Magnificent Joe by James Wheatley – the author will even be 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

October 2019
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