Whitley WI Book Club 2018
Book Club meetings are held on the Wednesday following the WI monthly meeting.
Come and enjoy a good discussion about books, life and other things with Whitley WI. We meet in each other’s homes once a month, all meetings are on Wednesday’s and start at 7.30pm.
Occasionally there may be a change in venue or order for reading the books but members will be notified of any changes and details will also be on the Whitley WI website. No meetings are held in December or August.
Please phone Helen 01925 730329 for further details.
New members welcome
The Book Club
One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis – Leader Joan Blackshaw
This debut psychological thriller by Emma Curtis serves as a warning to anyone thinking of trying to cover up their mistakes by lying their way out of them. Vicky Seagrave, the main protagonist in One Little Mistake, does exactly that and ends up in a far worse situation than she would have done if she had just come clean.
Vicky has three gorgeous children, a loving husband and a supportive network of friends, as well as a job she enjoys. She ought to be perfectly happy but her ambition to purchase a new house that she can renovate leads to her making a terrible error of judgement. When things go wrong and Vicky starts to panic, her friend and accomplice, Amber, takes charge of the situation. But Vicky soon finds that Amber is taking charge of her life as well and Vicky has no idea how to get herself out of the maelstrom she has created. Thus one little mistake turns into a series of catastrophic events.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – Leader Joyce Doyle
Despite their differences, sisters Viann and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Viann is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Viann finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.
As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength is tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Viann and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.
Vivid and exquisite in its illumination of a time and place that was filled with atrocities, but also humanity and strength, Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale will leave you breathless.
The Unwomanly face of war by Svetlana Alexievich –
Leader Betty Blake
The long-awaited translation of the classic oral history of Soviet women’s experiences in the Second World War – from the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. After completing the manuscript in 1983, Alexievich was not allowed to publish it because it went against the state-sanctioned history of the war. With the dawn of Perestroika, a heavily censored edition came out in 1985 and it became a huge bestseller in the Soviet Union – the first in five books that have established her as the conscience of the twentieth century.
In the late 1970s, Svetlana Alexievich set out to write her first book, The Unwomanly Face of War, when she realized that she grew up surrounded by women who had fought in the Second World War but whose stories were absent from official narratives. Travelling thousands of miles, she spent years interviewing hundreds of Soviet women – captains, tank drivers, snipers, pilots, nurses and doctors – who had experienced the war on the front lines, on the home front and in occupied territories. As it brings to light their most harrowing memories, this symphony of voices reveals a different side of war, a new range of feelings, smells and colours.
“Why, having stood up for and held their own place in a once absolutely male world, have women not stood up for their history? Their words and feelings? A whole world is hidden from us. Their war remains unknown… I want to write the history of that war. A women’s history.”
Extraordinary. . . it would be hard to find a book that feels more important or original’ – Viv Groskop, Observer
The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain – Leader Helen Carey
What is the difference between friendship and love? Or between neutrality and commitment?
Gustav grows up in a small town in Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem a distant echo. But Gustav’s father has mysteriously died and his adored mother Emilie is strangely cold and indifferent to him. Gustav’s life is a lonely one until he meets Anton. An intense lifelong friendship develops but Anton fails to understand how deeply and irrecoverably his life and Gustav’s are entwined until it is almost too late.
Fierce, astringent, profoundly tender, Rose Tremain’s beautifully orchestrated novel asks the question, what does it do to a person, or to a country, to pursue an eternal quest for neutrality and self- mastery while all life’s hopes and passions continually press upon the borders and beat upon the gate.
A magnificent novel, heartbreaking, unsentimental and beautifully written.
Eloise by Judy Finnegan – Leader Joyce Barber
“Yesterday I almost saw her. I was standing on the sun deck, looking out to sea, revelling in the unexpected warmth of the February sun. A butterfly trembled on a nearby buddleia and suddenly I smelled her perfume. She wasn’t there, of course. How could she be when I had seen her lying in her coffin just two weeks ago, the day before she was buried, her casket surrounded by the scented candles she loved? She lay in Cornish ground now”.
Eloise has nods to Daphne du Maurier and Emily Bronte in its vividly evoked Cornwall setting and story of a woman haunted in her dreams by the best friend who died of cancer.
Highly readable and in parts very moving.
Compulsively-readable and incredibly haunting, this is the Sunday Times bestselling debut
Autumn by Ali Smith – Leader Sez Ismail
Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That’s what it felt like for Keats in 1819. How about Autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic, once-in-a-generation summer. Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand-in-hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever.
Ali Smith’s new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. It is the first installment of her Seasonal quartet—four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are)—and it casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearean jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history making.
Here’s where we’re living. Here’s time at its most contemporaneous and its most cyclic.
A shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in time-scale and light-footed through histories, a story about aging and time and love and stories themselves.
The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies – Leader Pat Sharp
Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper steps off a steamer in Ceylon full of optimism, eager to join her new husband. But the man who greets her at the tea plantation is not the same one she fell in love with in London. Distant and brooding, Laurence spends long days wrapped up in his work, leaving his young bride to explore the plantation alone. It’s a place filled with clues to the past – locked doors, a yellowed wedding dress in a dusty trunk, an overgrown grave hidden in the grounds, far too small for an adult…
Gwen soon falls pregnant and her husband is overjoyed, but she has little time to celebrate. In the delivery room the new mother is faced with a terrible choice, one she knows no one in her upper class set will understand – least of all Laurence. Forced to bury a secret at the heart of her marriage, Gwen is more isolated than ever. When the time comes, how will her husband ever understand what she has done?
A story of guilt, betrayal and untold secrets vividly and entrancingly set in colonial era Ceylon.
A haunting, tender portrait of a woman forced to choose between her duty as a wife and her instinct as a mother
No Book Club in August
September 12 th 2018 ….. at Joyce Barber’s
The Company of Saints by Evelyn Anthony – Leader Jonty Jones
The first female head of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, Davina Graham is taking a well-deserved holiday with her lover, advertising executive Tony Walden. But her Venetian idyll is short-lived. On the Grand Canal, widowed US Secretary of the Defense Henry Franklyn and his daughter are killed when a bomb blows their gondola to smithereens. The local police believe it was the work of the rabid Red Brigade or the Palestine Liberation Organization because Franklyn was a Jew. But Davina is certain that Igor Borisov, the power-hungry head of the KGB who ordered the assassination of Davina’s Russian defector husband, is behind it.
Another murder soon makes international headlines: the massacre of France’s minister of the interior and her family. Then the Soviet prime minister is killed in Poland, followed by the death of a pacifist British priest in London. The assassinations bring Davina’s ex-lover out of retirement. Forced to once again join forces with Intelligence agent Colin Lomax, while coping with a sudden death in her own family, Davina is determined to find evidence linking Borosov to the executions. The hunt leads to a shadowy organization called the Company of Saints, a private brigade of hired killers whose chilling end game is just beginning.
The Company of Saints is the 4th book in the Davina Graham Thrillers, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order. Other titles in the series are (1) The Defector, (2) The Avenue of the Dead and (3) Albatross.
Desert Queen by Janet Wallach – Leader June Smither
Here is the story of Gertrude Bell, who explored, mapped, and excavated the Arab world throughout the early twentieth century. Recruited by British intelligence during World War I, she played a crucial role in obtaining the loyalty of Arab leaders, and her connections and information provided the brains to match T. E. Lawrence’s brawn. After the war, she played a major role in creating the modern Middle East and was, at the time, considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire.
In this masterful biography, Janet Wallach shows us the woman behind these achievements -a woman whose passion and defiant independence were at odds with the confined and custom-bound England she left behind. Too long eclipsed by Lawrence, Gertrude Bell emerges at last in her own right as a vital player on the stage of modern history, and as a woman whose life was both a heart breaking story and a grand adventure.
Gertrude Bell was an amazing person. Brilliant, well-travelled, fluent in multiple languages, and extraordinarily self-confident, she blazed trails where few Europeans and no Victorian-era women had ever been.
At the October meeting we will also be discussing titles to read in 2019, so please bring suggestions for books to this meeting
The Violin of Auschwitz by Maria Angels Anglada –
Leader Jean Waite
In the winter of 1991, at a concert in Krakow, an older woman with a marvelously pitched violin meets a fellow musician who is instantly captivated by her instrument. When he asks her how she obtained it, she reveals the remarkable story behind its origin. . . .
Imprisoned at Auschwitz, the notorious concentration camp, Daniel feels his humanity slipping away. Treasured memories of the young woman he loved and the prayers that once lingered on his lips become hazier with each passing day. Then a visit from a mysterious stranger changes everything, as Daniel’s former identity as a crafter of fine violins is revealed to all. The camp’s two most dangerous men use this information to make a cruel wager: If Daniel can build a successful violin within a certain number of days, the Kommandant wins a case of the finest burgundy. If not, the camp doctor, a torturer, gets hold of Daniel. And so, battling exhaustion, Daniel tries to recapture his lost art, knowing all too well the likely cost of failure.
Written with lyrical simplicity and haunting beauty—and interspersed with chilling, actual Nazi documentation—The Violin of Auschwitz is more than just a novel: It is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of beauty, art, and hope to triumph over the darkest adversity.
An international sensation now available in English for the first time, The Violin of Auschwitz is the unforgettable story of one man’s refusal to surrender his dignity in the face of history’s greatest atrocity.
At the November meeting, we will decide the final selection of books for 2019
No Book Club in December
Please phone Helen 01925 730329 for further details.
New members welcome
Further Reading List (suggested by members but not for discussion at meetings)
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanne Cannon
Part coming-of-age story, part mystery, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is a quirky and utterly charming debut about a community in need of absolution and two girls learning what it means to belong.
England, 1976. Mrs. Creasy is missing and the Avenue is alive with whispers. The neighbors blame her sudden disappearance on the heat wave, but ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly aren’t convinced. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, the girls decide to take matters into their own hands. Inspired by the local vicar, they go looking for God—they believe that if they find Him they might also find Mrs. Creasy and bring her home.
Spunky, spirited Grace and quiet, thoughtful Tilly go door to door in search of clues. The cul-de-sac starts to give up its secrets, and the amateur detectives uncover much more than ever imagined. As they try to make sense of what they’ve seen and heard, a complicated history of deception begins to emerge. Everyone on the Avenue has something to hide, a reason for not fitting in.
Nothing and nobody is perfect, and the explanations aren’t too neat, either; instead, the various characters’ histories come together to form a vibrant whole.
One Child by Torey Hayden
This beautiful and deeply moving tale recounts educational psychologist Torey Hayden’s battle to unlock the emotions of a troubled and sexually abused child who, with the help of Hayden, was finally able to overcome her dark past and realise her full potential.
Six-year-old Sheila was abandoned by her mother on a highway when she was four. A survivor of horrific abuse, she never spoke, never cried, and was placed in a class for severely retarded children after committing an atrocious act of violence against another child. Everyone thought Sheila was beyond salvation – except her teacher, Torey Hayden. With patience, skill, and abiding love, she fought long and hard to release a haunted little girl from her secret nightmare – and nurture the spark of genius she recognised trapped within Sheila’s silence. This is the remarkable story of their journey together – an odyssey of hope, courage, and inspiring devotion that opened the heart and mind of one lost child to a new world of discovery and joy.
The Silk Weaver by Liz Trenow
1760, Spitalfields. Anna Butterfield’s life is about to change forever, as she moves from her idyllic Suffolk home to be introduced into London society. A chance encounter with a French silk weaver, Henri, draws her in to the volatile world of the city’s burgeoning silk trade. Henri is working on his ‘master piece’, to become a master weaver and freeman; Anna longs to become an artist while struggling against pressure from her uncle’s family to marry a wealthy young lawyer.
As their lives become ever more intertwined, Henri realises that Anna’s designs could give them both an opportunity for freedom. But his world becomes more dangerous by the day, as riots threaten to tear them apart forever . . .
Inspired by real historical events and characters, The Silk Weaver is a captivating, unforgettable story of illicit romance in a time of enlightenment and social upheaval.