Book club

Whitley WI Book Club 2021

JANUARY ZOOM MEETING is on Wednesday 20th January 2021…details from Helen

Full MEETING DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED ONCE Covid is under control

Book Club meetings are held on the Wednesday following the WI monthly meeting at 7.30 pm. No meetings are held in December or August. Occasionally there may be a change in venue, date or order for reading the books but members will be notified of any changes and details will also be on the Whitley WI website. For contact information see the printed programme.

Hosts – Helen……

and Joyce…… 

Whitley WI Book Club –  suggested reading at the December Zoom meeting

Karen Smith’s suggestion was Exodus by Leon Uris. It has been described as “an international publishing phenomenon — the towering novel of the twentieth century’s most dramatic geopolitical event” and is one of the best-selling novels of all time. In it, Leon Uris magnificently portrays the birth of a new nation in the midst of enemies–the beginning of an earth- shaking struggle for power. It is a story that swept the world with its fury: the story of an American nurse and an Israeli freedom fighter caught up in a glorious, heart breaking, triumphant era. “Passionate summary of the inhuman treatment of the Jewish people in Europe, of the exodus in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to Palestine, and of the triumphant founding of the new Israel.” The New York Times

Jonty Jones didn’t quite finish her suggested book, The Chamber by John Grisham, but for those who like thrillers, some of his books make gripping reading and many have made exciting films – “The Client” and “Pelican Brief” to name two.

Susan Lynch’s suggestion was 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds by Elif Shafak.  Capturing the evocative recollections of Tequila Leila in the ten minutes after her death, this spellbinding novel extracts the value of a fully-lived life until its untimely ending. For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life – friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .

Susan also suggested An Eagle in the Airing Cupboard by Rex Harper. This is his second book and follows the fortunes of the Cornish RSPCA centre through one of its most testing twelve months. It’s a mixture of funny, touching and sometimes moving animal stories. And features a cast of unforgettable characters, like Alfie and Blue, two hideously mistreated greyhounds that are rehabilitated at the farm, as well as the return of old favourites from Rex’s first book, including his loyal dog Moss. Throughout, Rex evokes the sights, smells, sounds and spirit of the Cornish countryside in all its timeless beauty. He also encounters sickening cases of animal cruelty committed by humans unfit to care for any living thing. Funny, warm and evocative, it is a book that is, once again, set to melt and occasionally break the hearts of animal lovers everywhere.

Chris Jones suggested Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult. This author always wraps a story around controversial social issues and develops empathetic characters to hash out the problems and solutions and she’s addressed powerful topics before but in her 24th novel she pushes the hottest button of all: Abortion – with a CAPITAL “A”. How do we balance the rights of a pregnant woman with the rights of the unborn they carry? At the corner of Juniper and Montfort stands a women’s reproductive health services clinic – the only one in the state of Mississippi providing legal abortions. Every day, staff and clients make their way through the gauntlet of vocal protestors. Today, at mid-morning, a desperate gunman bursts into the clinic and fires wildly… taking several lives and holding the rest hostage. Narrating the story backward from 5 pm to the start of the day, Picoult introduces us to the players in the most intimate way. She reveals the life experiences which have led them to be at this place, at this time and shows us the issues from all angles blurring the lines between right and wrong, good and evil, hero and villain.

Pat Sharp’s suggestion was Pachinko by Min Jim Lee. In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant–and that her lover is married–she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations. Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan’s finest universities to the pachinko parlours of the criminal underworld, Lee’s complex and passionate characters–strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis–survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.

Pat also suggested Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. For years, rumours of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So, in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens. The book is an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heart breaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Joyce Barber suggested My Alphabet – A Life from A to Z by Nick Hewer. His book takes us through an A to Z of some of the most remarkable and entertaining events in his life, covering everything from his Boyhood in Swindon, when he took his Dinky toys on a most unexpected journey, to Regrets, and an episode that ended in a kidnapping. With chapters on subjects from Tottenham Hotspur to one on Underwear, there is something for all tastes within these pages. My Alphabet builds up into a brilliant and fascinating self-portrait, taking the reader on a remarkable journey that will inform, entertain and move you. We get to see behind the scenes of The Apprentice and Countdown, and much else besides.

Joyce is also enjoying the Poldark novels by Winston Graham


Joan Blackshaw’s suggestion was One August Night by Victoria Hislop. The author returns to Crete in this sequel to her bestseller, The Island. 25th August 1957 is the night of a great celebration held in Plaka to mark the closure of the leper colony which sits across the bay: Spinalonga. A cure has been found, and the residents of the island are finally free to return to their families and lives. But a tragic and violent event turns the night upside down; as some are given their liberty, others are condemned to lose theirs. Those who remain must face unthinkable loss, and rebuild the lives they thought they knew. One August Night reunites readers with Anna, Maria, Manoli and Andreas in the weeks leading up to the evacuation of Spinalonga, and through its aftermath.

Joan also suggested Hero of the Empire by Candice Millard. This epic story relates  Churchill’s capture just two weeks after arriving in South Africa and his subsequent escape. Anxious to reach Ladysmith, Churchill grasped the opportunity to travel on an armoured train, the benefits of which were dubious in the extreme, later describing it as “a locomotive disguised as a knight errant.” His doubts were justified, as Boer commandos derailed part of the train and then surrounded it on three sides. For over an hour under continual fire Churchill directed efforts to clear the line so the locomotive and what was left of the train could escape. Churchill himself was among the more than 50 men captured by the Boers. Barely three weeks later he again escaped, making an epic 300-mile journey by several trains to Portuguese East Africa, hiding in trees and at one point for three days in a coal mine. After 11 days on the run Churchill finally reached Durban, soon becoming an international celebrity.

Helen Carey suggested Mum and Dad by Joanna Trollope. What happens when family roles are reversed and the children must look after mum and dad? It’s been twenty-five years since Gus and Monica left England to start a new life in Spain, building a wine business from the ground up. However, when Gus suffers a stroke and their idyllic Mediterranean life is thrown into upheaval, it’s left to their three grown-up children in London to step in. As the children descend on the vineyard, it becomes clear that each has their own idea of how best to handle their mum and dad, as well as the family business. As long-simmering resentments rise to the surface and tensions reach breaking point, can the family ties prove strong enough to keep them together

New members very welcome

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