Summer reads

Hello everyone hope you had a good weekend and managed to fit in a bit of reading among all that gardening / festival attending / shopping for your hols. Thanks to a book group member from Durham, I am now stuck on Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, an Icelandic writer of thrillers. It’s also the connection with Burial Rites – the darkness, the landscapes – but this is a modern Iceland with all the attendant cod war / finance / volcanic eruption issues. Not sure it would qualify as a summer read, but reading is such an individual pleasure, it’s hard to say. The Brits love a good murder for relaxation – this must be why there are so many of them at railway stations and airports, I suppose. The Sigurðardóttir ones I have read so far have a lawyer hero, rather than a detective: she’s a single parent of two, which provides a domestic backdrop to the grisly happenings. I am comparing with Denise Mina: will let you know final verdict. Noel_streatfeild
I am hoping I will read more than murder this summer. Another friend bought me Saplings by Noel Streatfeild which I am really looking forward to. I’m also reading Room by Emma Donoghue, so there’s plenty of choice beside my bed.
As I have mentioned to some of you already, I’m looking for a new book group leader. After more than five years, I think it’s time to hand on to somebody else. Do let either me, or Tammy at New Writing North, know if you think you would like to take this on.


Hi Everyone hope you haven’t cast any clouts – it seems to be one of those grey / green springs that dribble into damp summers. I want some flaming June but not holding my breath.

Thanks heavens for books. I loved Burial Rites – hope you have too. I think, apart from the relentlessly powerful story, I mostly enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the lives of the women in that hostile climate, and the moments of relief from the drudgery. I like books with a northern setting and this is pretty far north. I am amazed that this is her first novel, too – the way she controls the narrative is really compelling.P1020406

Am also reading another Denise Mina for light, Glaswegian relief . And also Fox Populi by Kate Fox who was a wonderful visitor to Poetry Parlour last Sat – thanks to everybody who came – wasn’t it a lovely evening? If anyone can bring a bit of light, it’s Kate.
See you on Monday – will be coming from Leeds so may be a bit late, but I will be there!

May Day

Hi everyone hope you are all well – it was great to see some new faces at book group this month, and hope you will return for the May meeting. It’s a bank holiday (May 5th, not 6th, apologies for this if you were confused) but I am still planning to meet at Voodoo as usP1020335ual. Let me know if you aren’t able to attend.
Hilary Mantel is a fascinating writer. I am reading her first novel, Every Day is Mother’s Day at the moment. All the hallmark traits of dark humour, absence of sentiment and characters which are part grotesque, part utterly representative of the human race as we know and don’t necessarily love it.
I have also loved her more recent historical fiction, especially Wolf Hall, although this would be quite a long read for book group. An Experiment in Love is a great book, too, and is a highly nostalgic read for me. Some very interesting coming of age threads in this book, with a strong undercurrent of class consciousness, privilege and lack of it, and the way girls’ friendships ebb and flow.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it.
Have a great weekend.

Daughters of Iowa

The King Lear story rewritten – well, not exactly, but the echoes ae there – the three daughters, the maddened King sent out into a storm. I don’t think it really mattered though if you knew nothing of the original Shakespeare – a story about daughters and inheritance, Alzheimer’s and sibling rivalry, marriage and motherhood will probably always have resonance.
There were many things I enjoyed: the slow revelation of the central character’s hidden (eve to herself) dark secret, the interplay of sisters and their husbands and lovers, and the horrible limitations of living within a patriarchy which seems reinforced by the demands of running a farm. All that cooking and scrubbing, without any thanks or value attributed to it or you as a human being. That said, it’s hard not to get frustrated with Ginny. I have been doing a course on How To Read A Mind with FutureLearn, looking at fictional minds and characters, and how we create them in our own heads and love or hate them as if they were real. So many things come into play – my own family background, my position in the world, my likes and dislikes. In this case, just felt a big cheer when G left home but wondered why she wanted to be a waitress – more serving and being nice to people. Sigh. P1020285
Anyway! Looking forward to the discussion. We are also planning a relaunch of the book club, and a publicity drive to get some new members in so bring ideas along.

Poetry please

Hey everybody hope you are all well and getting as excited as I am about having Mark Robinson at book group next Monday. He is both an excellent poet and an excellent reader of his work, (and many other things besides see his fascinating blog) so it will be a treat.
We won’t be at Voodoo as they are hosting a comedy night this Monday, but instead, we will be meeting at the lovely home of Mary in Darlington. Let either me or Tammy at New Writing North know if you need the address.
Following this, in March, we have agreed to read The Weather in The Streets by Rosamond Lehmann, one of my most favourite authors (true, there are a few of these) with the ability to convey the experience of emotional pain second to none. I understand i his is not a selling point to some of you! But for me she reaches into the depths with elegance and beauty, both heart rending and compassionate. Sh is a wonderful writer, take my word for it.

And in April, we will read A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, as this author is coming to the north east and we will be able to attend various events such as this one at Tyneside cinema. P1020111

Happy New Year

Hope you all had a good one, as they say, somewhat puzzlingly. But anyhow .. hope you got a few books read/a few books given. Did surprisingly little reading – not because there were so many great movies on TV, although It’s A Wonderful Life at The Forum was – er – wonderful. I think the brain sort of hibernates under the weight of fat and carbohydrate and only surfaces, looking a little more portly, after the festivities have died down, only lingering in the shape of a bit of dried up tangerine peel and a pine needle or two.
So not quite there yet, but beginning to wake up. Reading Doris always helps. Interesting for me as it is many years since I read this book. On the first read, I was puzzled and amazed by the new direction she seemed to be taking, even though the last volume of Children of Violence P1020032was a clue. This time it feels different. Looking forward to discussing with you all – and to another year of great reads and discussions.

Monday at Voodoo

Hi Reader Persons
Hope you are all set for meeting up on Monday – let’s do the Voodoo again, it was very nice!
Hope book reading is going well and you are with Harold on his pilgrimage. I am a bit behind as immersed in Wolf Hall P1010992and being astounded by the writing skill of Hilary Mantel. Also re-reading some of Doris Lessing’s work – was very sad about her death.
Looking forward to seeing you – bring suggestions for our next books please? A Doris?


Monday 2 March
Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney

Monday 6 April
Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

All meetings take place on the first Monday of the month at 6.30pm. We are currently meeting at:

Voodoo Cafe
84 Skinnergate

Photo by Moody Mammoth

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