“GOLD” by Chris Cleave – Oct 2016

Thirteen members were present at this month’s meeting with apologies received from several members unable to attend together with their comments on the book to be added to the discussion pot.

We opened the meeting by asking members what they felt about the book and it was quite a mixed reaction although on the whole most found the book a fairly easy read, and well-written and researched with some even mentioning that for the author to be male surprised them to some extent as the writing style captured the emotions and vulnerability of certain characters so well.

Several members said that it took a while to get into and a few felt irritated and even miffed with the general feel of the novel and the credibility of some of the characters, especially the relationship and dynamics between the two main characters Zoe and Kate. Most of the members present found this unrealistic and could not understand how they remained friends throughout.

Feelings were fairly split on the “nitty gritty” details of the sport with some finding it a little boring to read these details feeling they were sometimes in a bit of a sport bubble and wanted to get on with the story, and others saying how much they enjoyed getting swept up in the competitiveness of the tactics of the sport, more so as having got “hooked”, they could relate more to everything cycling in the Velodrome after watching the “real” Olympics on television and in 2012 in London itself.  Most also agreed the author’s research was very professional.

The storyline of Sophie – the sick child – everyone felt was quite realistic in its writing but again several members did not enjoy the “Star Wars” references set in Sophie’s fantasy world of thoughts but others argued that they felt this was how an eight year old dealt with a  long term illness – her way of not wanting to see her parents upset and in a way protecting them.  Some thought she would not actually survive.

No one saw the revelation coming of Zoe being her birth mother and again an interesting and in depth discussion followed about this and Zoe’s reaction to the death of her own brother and the effects and difficulty posed in getting close to anyone, as well as her vulnerability and need of protection and feeling she had to have accolades – gold medals – as she felt there was not enough in her own life.  Everyone also thought that she was going to admit to being Sophie’s mother too.

Most liked characters were Kate (although a little too good to be true at times!) and Jack (driven and competitive). Zoe was the most disliked character but most could see why and the funniest moment was the bathroom scene with Kate and Zoe’s trainer Tom – although a little like the Comedy/Tragedy Mask –  being poignant in the face of adversity but comedic in its portrayal.

The ending was felt by most to be shallow and very disappointing and extremely unbelievable set just three years later, and to quote one of our members “when the child survives the ordeal, she is stuck on a bike to try and win a medal, a clone of her family, a pawn for them to play with, to win more golds”.

In summing up, reactions to this novel proved to be fairly split  with some members present agreeing that it was a well researched, easy read and enjoyable book and with others saying not as enjoyable for them, so in this instance “all that glitters is not always “GOLD” perhaps!!”

 

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer – Sep 2016

Ten members were able to attend this month’s meeting held at The Cloisters in Bembridge on Thursday 22nd September, with apologies received from others unable to attend at this busy time of year together with their thoughts and views of the book.

Well….Brenda started the meeting by asking who liked this book – the views were a little mixed, with most definitely not liking or indeed enjoying it. Several members said that as far as an easy read went this took top marks… although so very disappointing in every other aspect, one describing it as a “Jeremy Kyle” sort of book – lots of airing of dirty washing !!!

Most said how they thought it was quite a boring book inasmuch as it was extremely repetitive, with each character repeating the same information in their own storyline as was mentioned previously by another character – absolutely totally unnecessary in such a lazy, unbelievable and very predictive text. One member did say that it was an ideal holiday read; very undemanding. And two or three of those not attending sending in their views actually saying they quite liked it.

All the characters seemed to have been fitted in – similar to slotting a jigsaw together – totally unbelievable and disappointing. Some members even got quite cross and annoyed with the characters, feeling that there were no “real characters as real people” Harry was the only one quite liked character on the whole, and we all liked Wanda’s take on the whole new meaning of the word for him “MARVELLOUS” !!

It started fairly well but then did not add up at all, leaving some with the feeling that the whole story was wrong and just did not match up at all. It was felt by those present that it was written in such a way that the author showed a distinct lack of respect to his readers by appearing to write this as a “fluffed up” story around his notes, which did not work or come together at all. It really finished as a synopsis rather than a full blown story, and everyone felt as though the story was added after to the notes BUT cleverly (or not!) leaving a “cliff hanger” ending, which of course was just about leading to the second book in the Trilogy.

So to summarise …… Having agreed that this was not what most members were expecting, some even having a few “qualms” about reading this author in the first instance, we can summarise : –

1) Storyline :
a. Not challenging
b. totally unbelievable
c. ridiculous storylines
d. unnecessarily repetitive

BUT an easy read!

2) Literary Style – NONE