Summer Reading

Dear all,

If  you really enjoyed (or even hated) a book, why not let everyone know how good or bad it really is? You might be doing someone a favour. Write a review of the book you have read and post it here on the book group’s blog. Post it as a ‘reply’ under either the Summer Reading or Our Book Choices post and we can all share your thoughts and be inspired to get, or avoid, the book for ourselves.

As for myself, I’ve already picked the books I’m looking forward to enjoying over the next month or so; see below.

Happy reading everyone!

Pete Legowski

           

Advertisements

2 responses to this post.

  1. Well, I just got back from my holiday a couple of days ago and have read quite a few already, although only two from the above list: ‘The Cider House Rules’ and ‘This Thing of Darkness’.

    The first of the two is a classic which I first read about a dozen years ago and which turned me into such a big John Irving fan. It tells the story of Homer Wells, an orphan who is never adopted and who simply ‘belongs’ to the orphanage, St Cloud’s, in which he was raised. The head of St Cloud’s is Dr Larch, a life-long ether addict and abortionist (at a time when this was illegal), and who trains Homer to eventually replace him. It is a moving story that spans a period of over forty years, during which time Homer tries and ultimately fails to escape a destiny that has been mapped out for him. The quality of Irving’s prose is, as ever, outstanding – no character is too peripheral to avoid having the spotlight shone on him, however briefly – and there are some of the usual Irving themes such as fears for children’s safety and welfare, and absent or abusive parents. There are some dark themes explored in this book (abortion for one) but they are handled humanely and at no time does Irving patronise the reader by preaching his own particular point of view (even if Irving’s own position comes across, we can guess, in the character of Dr Larch). In my opinion, John Irving is the greatest living writer, American or otherwise, and this is one of his greatest novels. It is one that will affect you long after reading it.

    ‘This Thing of Darkness’ is based on real events and characters in the 19th century. It is the story of parallel lives – Robert FitzRoy, captain of the Royal Navy’s survey ship, the ‘Beagle’, and Charles Darwin, the naturalist/philosopher of the same ship and who later popularised the idea of the evolution of life on earth through natural selection. Both men become friends throughout their exploration of South America, in spite of their opposing beliefs about God and life on earth. The novel follows the lives of both men, however FitzRoy is the real focus of attention here. He comes across as a thoroughly decent and dutiful officer and gentleman, while Darwin does not come across anywhere near as sympathetically to the reader. ‘This Thing of Darkness’ covers an exciting period in British history, when the Empire took men far and wide from Britain’s own shores to places that were as yet largely unexplored. The novel also tackles the challenges to Christianity (and how this was very much an everyday part of people’s lives) that Darwin’s theories on evolution directly opposed; how fundamental beliefs such as the creation of earth in six days as described in Genesis and the Noachian flood were being systematically challenged and discredited. However, among all of this scientific and philosophical debate, there is some excellent narrative in the swashbuckling style of Forester’s ‘Hornblower’ or even Cornwell’s Sharpe novels. An exciting and intelligent read – I couldn’t put it down!

    Pete Legowski

    Reply

  2. I finished reading William Boyd’s ‘Ordinary Thunderstorms’ yesterday – a cracking tale set amidst London’s seedy underbelly and the corporate world of the pharamaceutical industry. Does this sound boring? It really isn’t. Adam Kindred is a successful university professor seeking to relocate back home to England and so attends an interview in London. He finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up being the chief suspect in the murder of a scientist who works for a large pharma company and the next target of the scientist’s assassin. Deciding against turning himself in to the police, he does ‘underground’, becoming completely anonymous, to give himself time to work out what to do.
    A cracking tale of murder and corruption, ‘Ordinary Thunderstorms’ explores what happens to the ordinary people that get caught up in the machinations of Big Corporations; the victims that are merely collateral damage in a much larger, richer world that is beyond most people’s experience. 6/10.

    Pete

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: