The Improbability Of Love” by Hannah Rothschild

Fourteen members attended and were welcomed to this month’s meeting at The Cloisters, Bembridge to discuss the above book with apologies received from six members unable to be with us. The meeting began with the written and some contrasting comments of the book received from those members not present which then led on to a lively session of other members’ views on the book.

It was generally felt that although several members thought the book did take some time to get into they loved it, with others actually being “hooked” from the onset with the Prologue which set the storyline and was 19 pages long! Most enjoyed the content and found it interesting and full of intrigue with lots of twists and turns and secrets. The historical facts were enjoyed by nearly everyone, helping the story flow with the main and well liked character Annie McDee who found and bought the painting in the antique/junk shop at the beginning of this story, the Museum Guide and Artist Jesse, later her boyfriend, and Agnes the Museum Curator dealing with the initial investigative stages to confirm that the painting was indeed an original and not a copy Watteau. It was thought that the Jewish connection was well written giving a real insight into that period of history of the very many paintings and masterpieces that were taken, hidden and destroyed by the Nazis during the War years and how they were “re-distributed” and not really appreciated for their true beauty but sold on as “trophy pieces”

The “talking” painting was a bit of a hot potato topic as although several members thought that the dialogue made the story for them with each chapter a separate piece linking up to form the story and was a very necessary addition there were a few members who found this element rather annoying and grating with two members actually feeling really incensed and irked with it to the point of not wanting to read on – paintings that could talk!! Members did find some of the art history, although very thorough, a little boring at times unless of course you had a special interest in this sort of thing when it would be a different matter and more enjoyable, but quite a few members DID enjoy this part of the book as it reminded them of the BBC TV programme presented by Fiona Bruce that looked at old paintings to see if they were the real thing or fake. One or two members did at times feel that it came through the book that they were perhaps being lectured on what was obviously to them the authors in depth insider knowledge of the art world which she was determined to present whether they liked it or not.

Absolutely everyone really enjoyed the themed cookery sections of the book, proving interesting and so cleverly described it was felt you could actually truly visualise and even eat the food!! It was mentioned that perhaps that some of the characters’ names were a bit absurd and unnecessarily complicated. Thoughts were also given to some of the characters by the author, who had previously said she had based them on some of her acquaintances – Barty came in for some amusing discussion there!! Members then spoke about how it came home to them about how the Russians and their money was used in the art world, and the ways in which this sort of money plays such a huge part and has serious consequences all over the World today. We then moved on to some characters who stood out as not being liked by members and unanimously Rebecca was least liked and some members felt a little aggrieved that she did not quite get her comeuppance as they had hoped. Her 90 year old (Nazi/Jew) father Memling chose the cyanide option – again too tidy and neat as it was felt the ending was. Members agreed that the end of the book was too arranged and twee with too many coincidences neatly tied up. Everyone agreeing, although predictable they were pleased it was a happy ending for Annie, even if her alcoholic mother, Evie in the last chapter moved to the Isle of Wight to open up a Counselling centre!!

So to conclude!!! Mostly everyone really liked it (Oh OK even loved it then!!) with those members who struggled initially, ploughing on with it and finding they actually wanted to finish it! Just a couple of members had a total dislike for the book. It was a thumbs up from us with a general agreement that we would recommend this book to a friend.

And finally (it has to be done!) – I leave the last words to the Painting!!!! A Quote from Chapter 11:

“Hello

I am still here

And let’s not forget that I am the hero of this story

And far more interesting than food

And longer lasting than love

I am still here

Moi “

 

 

Magpie Murders By Anthony Horowitz

Fourteen members were present at this month’s meeting held at The Cloisters on the evening of Thursday 12th April at 7.30pm with apologies received from six other members unable to attend, but who provided some of their comments on the book so these could be added to the discussion pot.

The evening was and did indeed prove to be extra special as we also were able to welcome our guest Jo from the Library together with Jonathan. Brenda first explained how we ran our meetings and then opened the discussion of the book by asking what members thought of it as a Murder Mystery. Several members initially voiced their dislike of the story due in part with its make-up, a story within a story, feeling there were far too many complicated characters involved making it not particularly an enjoyable read as many found they lost track of who was who and had to make notes whilst reading which in itself did not help with the flow of the storyline and spoilt it for them.

Some also thought, although very cleverly written, it felt like a bit of a jigsaw, with the first story within the book reading like a script with one member who normally enjoys reading crime fiction, describing the original story as very bland and disappointing and quite boring. Comments included: there were too many red herrings; not a proper investigation; not really written as is usual in this type of book, as either character led or plot led; a bit of a slog, contrived to fit, seemingly with the characters being “placed to order” in both the stories making them at times rather unbelievable. For example, how did Editor Susan Ryeland survive being knocked on the head and almost blinded, kicked in the ribs and left virtually unconscious in a burning building with her fiancé turning up at just exactly the right moment to rescue her ?? Phew!! And why was the victim having breakfast at the top of the tower, with its unstable and low balcony, in Suffolk (does it always have such good weather to be able to do this?) on that particular morning???

Although several other members did enjoy the book, on the whole, most agreed that it was far too long, cumbersome and frustrating with an intricate clever concept. They enjoyed working out the unexpected twists and turns with the very different styles of writing, the hidden “quirkiness” of the detective Atticus Pund and even wondering initially whether the missing chapter of his book was perhaps a deliberate ploy and written for the reader (perhaps to even win a prize for guessing the “whodunit”!!)

Most agreed the book was not as predictable as an Agatha Christie and more of a homage to her, made you use your brain, cleverly written but was a bit laborious at times making you work hard at it, perhaps too lengthy and definitely confusing and complicated but was enjoyed by a stalwart few!!! The ends tied up nicely at the end – too nicely for some!

A discussion then evolved on the various characters (luckily we had notes on who was who!! Thank you Chris!) but no-one really stood out for us or was particularly liked but all agreed that Susan Ryeland (the Editor) was left with Hobsons choice at the end but really who wouldn’t want to live in very Sunny Crete?? We also chatted about if it was to be made into a film which actors could have starring roles as Anthony Horowitz had already said he had based Atticus on Ben Kingsley!!

So in conclusion a very mixed review this month. Around one third of members did enjoy the book with nearly everyone agreeing that the book although cleverly written, frustratingly was really too long and involved too many characters to be able to relax and enjoy the book without referring to a notebook to keep track of who was who so I suppose a “Whodunnit” for many reasons!!!

So with such a mixed review there will be copies of this book left in bus shelters, charity shops and maybe one or two given to a friend!!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Pam opened and welcomed 13 members to this postponed meeting which had been unavoidably moved to this week due to THE SNOW last week and that, although the original meeting had been arranged to take place on World Book Day, today was actually International Women’s Day!!! She gave apologies for those 7 members unable to attend but added that ALL of those members had given her their views and thoughts on the book!!

It became very apparent quickly that this was a book that all our members had thoroughly enjoyed reading. Comments such as very emotional; overpowering; moving, funny; sad; shocking; poignant; heartbreaking; a real page turner; so well-written, were voiced by absolutely everyone leaving some members unable to find the right words to describe their love of the book which had not already been mentioned. This had only ever happened once or maybe twice previously in our 10 years!!!

Several members had read the book for a second time and found it still, if not more as engaging as the first time of reading it. The language and humour was thought to be fabulously authentic and powerful and it helped that each of the main characters were given chapters of their own with several members saying that it was easier to be able to see so much more in the lives of both sides of the story. With the maids, the hardships and prejudices, their absolute love and devotion to their charges, the abuse suffered and of their total acceptance.

Several members loved the quotes from Minny “yes ma’am. I tell her” (in about 100 years!) and many others. “That’s what I like about Aibileen, she can take the most complicated things in life and wrap them up so small and simple, they’ll fit right in your pocket” and Aibileen’s “You is intelligent, you is kind” to her little charge Mae Mobley when ignored by her own mother – so touching and definitely struck a chord with members. Hilly came out as a typical “star” bully who liked to be the leader but definitely got her come uppance which everyone absolutely loved! Skeeter’s role in the book was admired and everyone enjoyed the way that she was a woman before her time and her courage.

Members found the social history of the time interesting but also very shocking, with comparisons made of their own fairly carefree lives in the 1960s. They commented on their own “sort of ignorance” of this life on the other side of the world and its very real open racist prejudices – within their own lifetimes! Members found it very shocking too that women “morphed” into horrible women and could treat other women that way. As in the case of Skeeters mother’s behaviour towards Constantine because she is “told” to deal with her by her peers and needed to conform!! But everyone had memories of the case of Rosa Parks in the news and of course Martin Luther King’s work and relentless campaigning and his “I Have a Dream”. Several members said that it really made them feel ashamed of those terrible women. You would like to think things have improved and moved on but everyone had their doubts and there then followed a lengthy discussion on prejudices over the world today and all agreed sadly it was still a prejudiced sorld on many accounts.

Back to the book …… Everyone liked the ending of the book as it was realistic in that it was not all good going and things went wrong. It was sad and frightening that it was not actually set 200 years ago when history was what it was then and all agreed it was a really fantastic good read – daring; vitally important and very courageous and an immensely compelling read.

TOTALLY RECOMMENDED BY EVERYONE PERHAPS EVEN TO BE PLACED AS A COMPULSORY SCHOOL READING LIST BOOK!!

Snapper By Brian Kimberling

Twelve members met together in January to discuss the book Snapper which had been the Christmas read.

Brenda opened the meeting by giving out some notes of interest and an apology from Pam who was unable to attend on the night.

The opening the lively discussion revealed that most members were unable to enjoy (or finish!!) the book, or “get into it” as anticipated.

It was viewed as a journal, a journey and a meander through the main character’s life. There appeared to be little storyline and no continuity in the narrative. The storyline “leapfrogged” and seemed disconnected.

However, on a more positive note, members enjoyed the outstanding description, the occasional witty episodes and the information given on Indiana.

One member in particular found much to be enjoyed and several noted the political and social issues broached in the book. The member who had not yet finished the book had not been deterred from doing so by the comments so this was viewed as positive.

It was noted that the reviews on the book cover didn’t really convey a true reflection of the book, but as it was pointed out by another member reviewers rarely comment that are “boring, badly written and un-captivating”!!!!!!!

Members would not recommend to a friend without a qualifying comment and another member compared the book from Christmas last year to that of this year as “Snappy” not happy!!!!

An apt comment on which to end the meeting!

The next meeting to discuss The Help by Kathryn Stockett will be held on March 1 at the Cloisters.

The Lady And The Unicorn By Tracy Chevalier

Brenda opened the meeting by welcoming 17 members together with new member Hilary; there were also apologies received from 3 other members unable to be at the meeting.

ladyunicornThe evening’s discussion commenced with members saying that generally they had found this book an easy and quick read, absorbing and very informative with regards to the art of weaving the tapestries.  At times it was felt to be a bit mundane by a few members.  Quite a few members said they had started the book with a little trepidation expecting to hate or not like it at all, mainly due to its content, setting and period but had been pleasantly surprised by it and found it to be an enjoyable read with an interesting topic.

Members did find it interesting from the historical aspect with regards to the different levels of women’s representation, and social conditions of the time; women being totally suppressed in the workplace and in the case of the tapestries not being allowed by the Guild to weave, although totally competent to do so. It became very obvious that rich and poor social conditions markedly mattered especially as far as women were concerned with them having absolutely no choice in their plight.

Although it was felt women’s personalities were quashed, in the main, the book was sensitive in its portrayal of some of the main characters.  One who stood out and was liked by everyone was the master weaver George’s daughter, Alienor, who was so sensitive and shone through her blindness “finishing off” by feel, the cutting ends of the tapestries, working through the nights when the other weavers were not able to through lack of light, so saving the much need valuable time and space. She with her mother Christine, even wove some of the background flowers!  She spent long hours nurturing her garden which was full of every flower for every season knowing by touch and smell their names.  Everyone was relieved that she was able to escape an unpleasant (and would have been rather smelly!) marriage to the wool dyer Jacques de Boeuf.  Philippe was thought a bit of a hero stepping in to claim the baby was his so releasing her from the fate.

******* ********   X RATED BIT !!!!!!   ************

It was felt that the book was quite “saucy” and naughty in parts with members agreeing the artist Nicholas was definitely a bit of a creep!!!  One member even saying “He was good at what he did!!!” (we think she meant as an artist of course????!!). Talented in his work, capturing, especially as these were not battle scenes his usual form of design, the feel of the tapestries and the story that unfolded.  Several members warmed to him a little (only a little!) as it was felt he was observant to other situations (as in the case of Alienor) and with his art he was still willing to learn the ways of weaving and how it worked with his paintings.  His “naughtiness” with the female population in the end proved some “come-uppence” with the birth of Claude (daughter of Marie-Celeste taken in by Claude (daughter of Jean le Viste) yes confusing – are you keeping up!!) Phew!!! Where is the popcorn???

Other characters were then discussed briefly. A lengthy and interesting discussion followed re women accepting their plights through the ages and how far it has come in this day and age.  As too were the making and history of the tapestries which drew the general agreement that the book had been really written as two halves. Some feeling it was well-researched, cramming in everything so that it really didn’t enhance the book.  But everyone quite enjoyed it. There were no real surprises.  All ends tied up well with several characters having happier endings than others!!

We would recommend this book to others and all agreed we would look at tapestries in a totally different light.

After The Fall By Charity Norman

Fourteen members and a visitor were welcomed by Brenda who also reported that we had received apologies, together with some of their thoughts on the book, from nine of our members who were unable to be with us for the meeting held at The Cloisters.

She then opened the discussion by asking Jeanie to kick off the proceedings for her thoughts on the book. Several members agreed with Jeanie’s comments that the book was well-written and was quite true to life for this day and age, but she herself had found sadly that she had not really enjoyed the content of the story with its focus on addictions.  It was generally agreed that it was a book to think about, with an intense structure overall and with real life comparisons, be it a bit twee at times.

Many felt very cross and angry with Martha, the mother, who just buried her head in the sand over her daughter Sacha’s drug addiction with a false belief that she alone could help her deal with this problem without professional help. Also, how she could keep this, with all its attached guilt, a secret, as she had witnessed Sacha pushing her 5-year-old brother Finn over the balcony.  It was also felt by some that they did not like nor understand how she could favour Finn over Charlie, who really wasn’t mentioned much and yet he was his twin with a special relationship with his brother. This was shown at the hospital when he touchingly just wanted him to come home to all be together again.  Also more so that she had just uprooted everyone with no real discussion, especially a teenage daughter, a talented flautist, away from her friends, adored grandfather, school and absolutely everything she knew and as one member said leaving her “rudderless” without them. Martha moved to satisfy her own need to protect and give her alcoholic husband Kit a new start, and perhaps to solve his addiction to drink(?) with no real thought of leaving her own loving widowed father, sister Lou and brother in law (and as it came out in a later part of the story, Sacha’s real father!).

But others had said they had felt differently about Martha, that she found herself between a rock and a hard place and that they had felt sorry for her with her torn loyalties and conscience and with her strive for perfection, her daily dilemmas to keep everything “normal” and that she had to be strong and controlling for husband Kit who was not always a great support. It was felt that although Kit was instrumental to the book, the author had then kept him in the background. The tension increased as the book progressed and several felt involved in it and wanted to know how it would all end as Sacha’s downward spiral into her drug addiction and dealing had caused her deteriorating behaviour to seriously impact on the family in so many ways. But Sacha did come good as she was able to go back to England under the protective wing of her grandfather and eventually resume her flute playing. The book’s closing chapter also unfurled to disclose that she had been accepted at a University to train as a paediatrician – so she had turned her life around completely because of what life had thrown at her.

Relationships were then discussed with members feeling that Bianka’s character was too good to be true in real life. Several members spoke of Sacha’s quest to look for her real father which had been threaded through the book being quite pointless to the story. An interesting discussion then took place on how perceptions might have changed had there been a reversal of gender to the characters.  Would it have been acceptable to the storyline had Sacha’s character been a teenage boy throwing his 5 year old sister off the balcony? Several members commented on how much they liked her mother’s quips in her ear and a few liked Hama’s “Crocodile Dundee” character and the grandfather who picked up the pieces and put them together again.

So to conclude………  Generally it was felt it was a well-written story with a strong plot, strikingly good at the beginning leaving us with thoughts that the author lived it herself.  Perhaps better suited to its original published Book Title of “Second Chances”. One member’s summing up described it as a modern day family who had to face their gremlins. The story had no real loose ends, used likeable language, quite poetic at times too with a few interesting lines, but with one in particular that made everyone smile “He lowered himself down into a deckchair and scuba dived into the Merlot”. Thank you Brenda!! Cheers!!

We would recommend it to a friend and so given the “thumbs up”.

Two Caravans By Marina Lewycka

Eleven members were present on a very hot July 8th evening with apologies received from those unable to make it this time. Brenda started thanking everyone for turning out on a very warm evening and by asking what we thought of the book straight away. It became very apparent that this had indeed proved a hard read with several members having to restart and make several attempts returning to the beginning of the book before getting into it properly. Comments were made initially by several members who had had high expectations from reading a previous, popular and funny title of the author, that it had generally been quite disappointing and not “as billed”: ‘extremely funny, hilarious and an excellent follow up of her first novel which won the Bollinger Everyman prize for Comic Fiction!!’.

Most agreed that on the whole that the book, although well written, more so in the second part, had been one that was fairly depressing and really only splattered with odd moments of a comedic and entertaining nature (most had to really look for the humour it contained) e.g. the dog’s comments, whilst rounding up and saving the chickens, about the stupidity of Irina, the old chap in the nursing home and the language misinterpretation caused by the mixing up of the words canal and carnal!!

Most struggled and could not identify with the characters with the Farmer and his wife being the most disliked and the “plot” (which because it changed felt had lost its way) which did not really improve at all throughout with several members becoming bored and fed up and feeling it had become too predictable and not entertaining. Absolutely everyone found the chicken scenes very distressing reading and felt the need to step away from the despair and cruelty and to then try to concentrate on the chaos and mayhem unfolding. But the dog “saved the day” and not just the chickens! It was felt he was the real star of the book and the most liked character with members feeling quite sad about his demise and his loyalty in giving his life.

As the discussion progressed it was thought generally that this book was one that humanised people of all nationalities (of which there were many) its social commentary threaded its way cleverly through the put-down of various cultures of the migrant workers – a book touching on “slavery” and that possibly believably dreadful things do happen and, although upsetting, it was agreed, sadly, this is how it actually was, but we were amazed that they could not see what was going to happen time after time!

So in conclusion…………. It was generally felt this book was not a page turner or a holiday read! Possibly a book for young adults to read to gain an understanding of the above. One or two thought it was written in a way so that the reader understood the narrative interaction – but obviously the characters didn’t once they disbanded!! The dedication to the cockle pickers was very touching.

But not a book to recommend or read again for most of the members. So a thumbs down from us!!!

Lacey’s House by Joanne Graham

Fourteen members were able to attend April’s meeting held at The Cloisters on Thursday 20th April with apologies received from members who were unable to be present.

Pam opened the discussion by asking members their views on this book.  Several members admitted that due to various reasons they had been unable to read this book.  A few members saying that they felt the content and style of writing did not encourage them to do so in this instance. On the other hand, the majority of members who had been able to read this book, although difficult to “get into” at the beginning, had found they got used to the actual text and style of writing, using very short chapters and swinging between the two main characters – Lacey and Rachel, fairly easy to follow flowing easily from one to another on the whole.

It was also said by some members that they thought that the relationship between the two women was well-described and detailed generally with it growing in confidence as the book went on – a love story of sorts (not romantic !!).  Several members felt it was a sad, deep and quite “dark” book with several questions unanswered that they felt they needed to know about and there was a feeling from nearly everyone of shock with the twist at the end, that there had been no baby for Lacey  which definitely took most by surprise.

One or two members thought although the subject matter was worthy, giving the book great possibilities to be incredibly powerful, it sadly disappointed, feeling it lacked atmosphere with its descriptive, cliché language not getting a connection emerging and would possibly have fared better in a more experienced writer’s hands perhaps.  Others argued that they did feel it had a sense of relationship building with a feeling that the two women through helping and learning about each other became each other’s “missing link” (daughter/mother : mother/daughter ?).  Several felt as they read on through the chapters that they were waiting for the relationship to get better and it just did not, whilst others said they thought it had achieved this!!  It was also generally thought it had to a certain extent been quite difficult to pick through the truth and lies laid out for Lacey’s character in the storytelling.

Thoughts and discussion were then given on the author’s coverage of the “harshness and cruelty” aspect of this story mainly with regards to the character of Lacey’s doctor father, including the electric shock and lobotomy treatments endured by her, leading on to a few members admitting they had felt personally affected by them, leaving them with emotions of unhappy despair in humanity, a sadness,  finding it quite hard for them to read the book to its end. Others said that they felt it was the human spirit surviving through a very hard life, much similar to the world we live in today.  Most agreed that Lacey had to die to give the book its “happy” ending allowing Rachel to achieve her dreams.

To conclude …….  A book which evoked all sorts of emotions and split opinions and views and was felt generally one which allowed “damaged souls to move along at their own pace” (Thank you Joy) a simplistic but complicated deep and dark novel, one full of unhappiness and sadness. Some thought it was one with worthy subject matter that had hopes and the possibilities to be powerful. Half of those members present enjoyed the book to a certain extent, but no-one wanted to or had the desire to read it again or recommend it.

Longbourn by Jo Baker – Mar 17

Fifteen members together with 2 visitors were present at this month’s Book Club meeting, with apologies received from six other members along with their views and thoughts on the book. We began this meeting where we took a few moments to relate our own special memories and stories of how we would best remember and miss one of our lovely members, Vicki, who sadly is no longer with us.

Brenda then asked members for their thoughts on the book and it became fairly apparent that everyone really enjoyed reading this book, even with a few saying they did not expect to, as it was definitely a book they would not have chosen themselves as it was out of their comfort zones.

Everyone agreed it was a simple, easy read, engrossing, and due to its clever,  beautiful and descriptive writing, making it easy to imagine the reality of the harshness of life below stairs with the pampered shallow one upstairs.  Most thought the book showed that real life was really downstairs – unlike upstairs which was a facade (what did those upstairs girls really do all day!!??). One member even mentioned that she began to feel a resentment carrying forward to “upstairs” because of the harshness “downstairs”.  Sarah was by far the best liked character and her hard life was so vividly well described we all felt her chilblains!!!  We discussed at length the harshness of the chores and lives of these two young orphaned housemaids tempered with our own life experiences and wondered how today’s teenagers would fair and perhaps they should read this book to fully understand how life has really evolved from their perspective from then to now!!

It was also said by a few members that they did not enjoy the “war chapters” and maybe felt they lingered on too long and were not sure that this was necessary but others argued that they felt they were important for painting the picture and character of James.  We chatted about the other characters and their individual standing in the book in general, with Jeanie’s lovely word of Cad being so aptly applied to the odd character but it was agreed we all loved the level of detail and poetic and flowing descriptions.

Everyone was pleased with James and Sarah finding and re-uniting with each other at the end of the story although one member mooted that she felt the improbability of Sarah being able to travel across the terrain in unsuitable clothing and shoes to the Lake District and actually finding him (the Lake District being an extremely huge area!). But others argued “Sarah’s case” and said that in “those” days they walked everywhere and that was how usual and normal life was then and she had followed him for love and her future life and found him through the road-making gang (perhaps a little extra poetic licence there, who knows!?) but a happy ending.  A few members re-read Pride and Prejudice having read this book and found they could link a few references between both.

So in conclusion, all felt this book with a hint of awareness of Pride and Prejudice stands on its own well with several threads running through it of equal importance dovetailing together neatly without the need  of an excess of  extra characters.  Several members felt there was enough unfinished ties and material to form a sequel!!

A film of Longbourn is due to be made which we all felt would work well and would definitely see.  So as is our usual practice what would we do with this book?

We would definitely keep it and possibly re-read it and all of us would recommend it to a friend.  A definite thumbs-up for this book.

Instructions For A Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell – Jan 17

Thirteen members were present at this month’s Book Club meeting held at The Cloisters on Thursday evening 19th January at 7.30pm, with apologies received from those unable to attend, with some of their thoughts on the book too.  We began by giving our views on the book with a fair few members agreeing that it was on the whole a light-hearted, easy, predictable read, using a basic well used story although perhaps a little strangely written but noticeably one that had left everyone disappointed with the ending!!!!

Some of us also admitted it had taken a while to get into the book but the characters were well-liked generally, being interesting and well described.  The mother, Gretta, although not liked by all members, was felt had shaped the characters of the children – Monica, Michael Francis and Aoife – probably it was thought more so because she had been harbouring her own “dreadful” secret. It was agreed they were all very complex characters! A few members had also found it a little difficult to relate to Aoife’s problems as it had appeared quite obvious to us in 2017, that she was suffering from a profound dyslexia problem, which had caused most of her traumatic experiences in life.  But of course, it was pointed out that we had to remind ourselves that this was a proud Irish family in 1976!! This instigated a further thought provoking discussion of members experiences and memories on how true to life some of these matters really were back then, and of course as far as this book portrayed with the marriage issue (Gretta’s case), abortion (Monica) and many other things including Aoife’s educational problems just got swept under the carpet!!

The one character we did not really get to know was the father Robert!! Nothing was really explained about WHY? he suddenly disappeared then and in search of his brother at the Monastery and what triggered him to go at that particular time (possibly THE HEATWAVE??)  and again WHY? didn’t he contact anyone to tell them he would be back?  WHY?  WHY? It was also mentioned that even when you saw the eventual end, the author still kept you waiting for the end and then suddenly she stopped writing!!! BIZARRE !!

OH YES THAT HEATWAVE ???  A discussion emerged about why the book was titled “Instructions for a heatwave” Most members could not really “fit” the title totally to the book as although the heatwave lightly threaded its way through the story (we all related our own memories of it in 1976!) where did it really make sense to have this as its title? – confusing!  An alternative title it was agreed would probably have worked better for the storyline as the mainstay was really the family. The family did unite, the mother had tried her best to look after the family and Aoife was able to talk to her boyfriend in New York! But on the down side no questions were really answered maybe annoyingly a bit of a deliberate conundrum perhaps??

So in conclusion only a few members did, apart from the very disappointing ending, enjoy this book with the majority not enjoying it – although not really disliking it either!   No-one really felt they could recommend it to a friend this time.