Whitley WI Book Club 2019
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
New members welcome
January 9th 2019 ……at Joyce’s
Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon
“They can’t send you away. What will we do? We need us. I stop your angry, Jack. And you make me strong. You make me Rosie.”
Rosie loves Jack. Jack loves Rosie. So, when they’re separated, Rosie will do anything to find the boy who makes the sun shine in her head.
Even run away from home.
Even struggle across London and travel to Brighton, though the trains are cancelled and the snow is falling. Even though people might think a girl like Rosie could never survive on her own.
See the world through new eyes in this one-in-a-million story.
“A story about the power of love and the importance of remembering that those with disabilities should not be defined by them.”
Wednesday February 13th 2019 7.30 pm at Helen’s
The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee
As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told “the best on the planet”?
Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family.
An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom.
Wednesday March 13th 2019 7.30 pm at Joyce’s
The Co-op’s Got Bananas by Hunter Davies
Despite the struggle to make ends meet during the tough years of warfare in the 1940s and rationing persisting until the early 1950s, life could still be sweet. Especially if you were a young boy, playing football with your pals, saving up to go to the movies at the weekend, and being captivated by the latest escapade of Dick Barton on the radio. Chocolate might be scarce, and bananas would be a pipe dream, but you could still have fun.
A poignant and very personal childhood memoir of growing up in Cumbria during the Second World War and into the 1950s, from columnist Hunter Davies. His memories of a hard life laced with glorious moments of colour and emotion will certainly strike a vein with his generation.
Wednesday April 10th 2019 7.30 pm Helen’s
The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas
In 1938, young bride Nerys Watkins accompanies her missionary husband on a posting to India. Up in Srinagar, the British live on beautiful wooden houseboats and dance and gossip as if there is no war. But when the men are sent away to fight Nerys is caught up in a dangerous friendship.
Years later, when Mair Ellis clears out her father’s house, she finds an antique shawl with a lock of child’s hair wrapped up in its folds. Tracing her grandparents’ roots back to Kashmir, Mair uncovers a story of great love and great sacrifice.
Within one exotic land lie the secrets of a lifetime…
Wednesday May 8th 2019 7.30 pm Joyce’s
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else’s life.
‘The odyssey of a simple man, original, subtle and touching’. – Claire Tomalin
‘From the moment I met Harold Fry, I didn’t want to leave him. Impossible to put down.’ – Erica Wagner, The Times
Wednesday June 12th 2019 7.30 pm Helen’s
Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa
Sentaro has failed. He has a criminal record, drinks too much, and his dream of becoming a writer is just a distant memory. With only the blossoming of the cherry trees to mark the passing of time, he spends his days in a tiny confectionery shop selling dorayaki, a type of pancake filled with sweet bean paste.
But everything is about to change.
Into his life comes Tokue, an elderly woman with disfigured hands and a troubled past. Tokue makes the best sweet bean paste Sentaro has ever tasted. She begins to teach him her craft, but as their friendship flourishes, social pressures become impossible to escape and Tokue’s dark secret is revealed, with devastating consequences.
Sweet Bean Paste is a moving novel about the burden of the past and the redemptive power of friendship. Translated into English for the first time, Durian Sukegawa’s beautiful prose is capturing hearts all over the world.
Wednesday July 10th 2019 7.30 pm Joyce’s
Holding by Graham Norton
The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste. So, when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.
Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of lovable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.
‘… one of the more authentic debuts I’ve read in recent years … in such an understated manner, eschewing linguistic eccentricity … in favour of genuine characters and tender feeling … this is a fine novel’ John Boyne, Irish Times
No Book Club in August
Wednesday September 11th 2019 7.30 Helen’s
The Dandelion Years by Erica James
Ashcombe was the most beautiful house Saskia had ever seen as a little girl. A rambling cottage on the edge of a Suffolk village, it provided a perfect sanctuary to hide from the tragedy which shattered her childhood.
Now an adult, Saskia is still living at Ashcombe and as a book restorer devotes her days tending to broken and battered books, daydreaming about the people who had once turned their pages. When she discovers a hidden notebook – and realises someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to hide a story of their own – Saskia finds herself drawn into a heart-rending tale of wartime love.
‘Someone had made a perfect job of creating a place in which to hide a notebook . . . there was no address, only a date: September 1943 . . .’
Wednesday October 16th 2019 7.30 pm Joyce’s
Theodor Boone by John Grisham
In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he’s only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he’s one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk – and a lot about the law. He dreams of being a great trial lawyer, of a life in the courtroom. But Theo finds himself in court much sooner than he expected. Because he knows so much – maybe too much – he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth. The stakes are high, but Theo won’t stop until justice is served.
At the October meeting we will also be discussing titles to read in 2020, so please bring suggestions for books to this meeting. Please note that this meeting is on the 2nd Wednesday as there is a WI Group meeting on the first Wednesday.
Wednesday November 13th 2019 7.30 pm Helen’s
Bridge of Clay by Marus Zusak
Five Dunbar brothers are living – fighting, loving, grieving – in the perfect chaos of a house without grown-ups. Today, the father who left them has just walked right back in.
He has a surprising request: Who will build a bridge with him?
It is Clay, a boy tormented by a long-buried secret, who accepts. But why is Clay so broken? And why must he fulfil this extraordinary challenge?
Bridge of Clay is about a boy caught in a current, a boy intent on destroying everything he has in order to become everything he needs to be. Ahead of him lies the bridge, the vision that will save both his family and himself.
It will be a miracle and nothing less.
At once an existential riddle and a search for redemption, this tale of five brothers coming of age in a house with no rules brims with energy, joy and pathos. Written in Markus Zusak’s distinctive style, it is a tour de force from a master storyteller of the heart.
‘A tale of love, art and redemption; rowdy and joyous.’ Times
At the November Meeting, we will decide the final selection of books for 2020
No Book Club in December
Further Reading List (suggested by members but not for discussion at meetings)
Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Afghanistan, 1975: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.
In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward
Bampton, Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later: Sophie Jenkins’s mother commits suicide.
Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her and move on with her life. But news of the suicide re-opens old wounds and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.
This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how often the very darkest secrets are those that are closest to you.
A Scandalous Life by Mary S Lovell
The biography of Jane Digby, an ‘enthralling tale of a nineteenth-century beauty whose heart – and hormones – ruled her head.’
A celebrated aristocratic beauty, Jane Digby married Lord Ellenborough at seventeen. Their divorce a few years later was one of England s most scandalous at that time. In her quest for passionate fulfilment she had lovers which included an Austrian prince, King Ludvig I of Bavaria, and a Greek count whose infidelities drove her to the Orient. In Syria, she found the love of her life, a Bedouin nobleman, Sheikh Medjuel el Mezrab who was twenty years her junior.
Bestselling biographer Mary Lovell has produced from Jane Digby’s diaries not only a sympathetic and dramatic portrait of a rare woman, but a fascinating glimpse into the centuries-old Bedouin tradition that is now almost lost.