St Michaels Readers Group

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Our monthly readers group was formed by a small group of friends who enjoyed reading and chatting with others about books we’d read.

Our first meeting was held in December 2008 when we shared’ The Island’  by Victoria Hislop. Since then we have read a wide variety of genres from historical novels to biographies, plays, poetry, thrillers, science fiction, short stories and much more.

Apart from the obvious pleasure of chatting about books that you have enjoyed – or not, we aim to encourage our members to widen their choices of reading material and to consider ideas and opinions of others.

We meet on the 3rd Monday of each month at the homes of members. Because of this, our numbers are limited to the size of room available. If you would like to be added to our waiting list please contact Pat on 01584 819875.

Reviews of books read are shown below and included in The Sword magazine.


October 2017 - Staying On by Paul Scott

Staying On is a novel by Paul Scott which was published in 1977 and won the Booker Prize. Staying On focuses on Tusker and Lucy Smalley who were briefly mentioned in the latter two books of the Raj Quarted, 'The Towers of Silence' and 'A Division of the Spils' and are the latest British couple living in the small hill town of Pankot after Indian Independence.

We learn about life as an expat in Pankot and see the new life that is replacing the British Raj. We meet the Bloolabhoys, owners of Smith's, the hotel where Tusker and his wife Lucy occupy an annex - or small bungalow. There are many interesting characters including Ibrahim and Joseph. Scott gives each character a voice so real that each personality is firmly etched in your mind. Both funny and deeply moving, Staying On is a unique engrossing portrait of the end of an empire and a forty year love affair.

There was plenty of discussion about the book which gets better and better as it progresses through the life of the two main characters.

Pam Owens

September 2017 - The Public Confessions of a Middle Aged Woman by Sue Townsend

This book contains a series of 800-word magazine essays, originally printed monthly over the course of several years covering a wide variety of topics ranging from the homely to the then topical and from amusing to somewhat heartbreaking. They cover a wide range of subjects such as travel, writing, food, vodka, family, shopping, politics and much more. I found this collection to be filled with light hearted reflections on everyday life which ranged from laugh out loud to deeply thought provoking. You can’t fail to identify with many of the topics – been there, done that! Her writing is sharp, perceptive and engaging. Leave it at your bedside and enjoy daily with a cuppa.

Pat Mutton 

July 2017 -  The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson

Our choice for the July meeting was 'The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson'. She was an American poet, the daughter of a lawyer from Massachusetts, and was born in 1830. She died in her 50's relatively unknown, in fact only seven of her poems were published prior to her death in 1886. She was initially a vivacious teenager, but gradually over the years withdrew into a reclusive existence. This was apparently a very deliberate choice 'to live is so startling, it leaves but little room for other occupations'. Ted Hughes describes her poetry 'she has an ability to see a vision of timeless, vast Nothingness, whose only resolution is Death'. This sounds very stark, but reading some of her poems she seems to me to have a had a very vivid imagination especially describing her physical and mental struggles. Most of us had chosen one of the poems to read to the rest of the group, and they provoked an interesting discussion. Few of us read poetry regularly, and probably most of us heaved a sigh when we knew the choice, but having a read a little of her poetry recognise that she was an immense talent and her poems worth dipping into occasionally.

Chris Fisher

 April 2017 - The Button Box by Lynn Knigh

Most of us have a family button box collected over the years, not very often looked at and used even less, but we all remember special buttons that have memories for us.  This was an unusual book with fascinating bits of social history, fashion and life styles over the last one hundred years up to the 1970s all to do with buttons.
 
Attractively presented and with short chapters each dealing with a specific type of button or fastener, this book is full of interesting snippets of information.  It is also good for dipping in and out of and is a very accessible read.
 
Wendy Crownshaw
 

March 2017 - Every Man for Himself by Beryl Brainbridge

A very moving account of the privileged few aboard the doomed first and only voyage of Titanic - the unsinkable ship. It was written through the eyes of an orphaned-turned-rich upper class man in his early twenties. The group were split on this book. To some it was boring. Other were left curious about some of the details of the Titanic. The characters were not compelling. The last few pages have you drawn into the despair, and for some that were still convinced the ship wouldn't sink and just carried on.

Have a read and see what you think!

Pam Owens

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