Category Archives: LBC White Swan

May Book Club meetings

LBC OUTLAWS 

6th May 2015 – I Am Pilgrim (Pilgrim #1)  – Terry Hayes

LBC WHITE SWAN 

10th May 2015 – The Owl Killers – Karen Maitland

LBC MEDUSA

13th May 2015 – Carte Blanche – Jeffrey Deaver

LBC 3 READS

16th May 2015 – Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin

LBC PUFFINS

20th May  – Over Sea, Under Stone (The Dark is Rising #1) by Susan Cooper

LBC DYSTOPIA

27th May – The Girl With All The Gifts -M.R. Carey

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WSwan LBC – Canada – Richard Ford

LBC White Swan

Date:  Sunday 8th of March 2015
Time:  6:00pm
Address: Swan Street, Leeds

 

Discussing:

CANADA

RICHARD FORD

The BLURB (Amazon)

First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.

It was more bad instincts and bad luck that lead to Dell Parsons’ parents robbing a bank. They weren’t reckless people, but in an instant, their actions alter fifteen-year-old Dell’s sense of normal life forever.

In the days that follow, he is saved before the authorities think to arrive. Driving across Montana, his life hurtles towards the unknown; a hotel in a deserted town, the violent and enigmatic Arthur Remlinger, and towards Canada itself. But, as Dell discovers, in this new world of secrets and upheaval, he is not the only one whose past lies on the other side of the border.

canada - richard fordThis is a very deceptive book. While the first chapter suggests that the plot is going to be action driven – actions are going to be the point of the story – robbery, murder, fleeing the law – it turns out that this is not the case. This is rather an introspective memory – an account of a very young 15 year old, written some 50 years later. There is much speculation about morality and fate and predestination and when a person becomes a criminal but no meaningful conclusions are drawn.

Our narrator appears reliable, but his account is so detailed that we found that no conclusions could be drawn about any of the characters that weren’t contradicted at a later point. He constantly tells us that he isn’t inward looking. Indeed he spells that out many times across 420 pages. All this time he is analysing every aspect of his memories. I noted that he wasn’t a good observer, just a wordy one.

Structurally – this was a difficult read. The third book encompasses 40 years of the narrators life despite only being 5-10% of the book and flew by. The first two sections covered mere months and dragged out somewhat. The writing was outstanding – at least the majority of us agreed on that – but the pacing was atrocious. (*Note – one person was driven to distraction by the use of the word waked.) NOTHING seemed to happen. Or rather, everything that happened was outlined in the very early chapters. There will be a robbery. They will be caught. He (Dell) will go to Canada and there will be a murder. As a result, the book is an exercise in patience. There is no sense of anticipation, no build up, no atmosphere – rather it’s a case of ticking off the actions previously outlined. If you are wondering whether this became tedious…it surely did!

We noted that the pleathera of descriptions were grim and visceral for the most part. It was a dark world, people were uniformly …well…crap really. One of the book clubbers noted that while reading the story, she kept thinking of other authors that would take the story and use it far more effectively – such as Annie Proulx. Which set us all off. My personal pick would be AS Byatt.

We wondered why anyone did anything in this book and concluded that it was purely to satisfy the plot. The whole story in fact felt to many of us as an exercise in writing. There were a number of strands that in and of themselves might have been interesting but were abandoned and never brought up again as part of the whole. We begin the book being told that everything followed on from the robbery – that nothing could have happened without that preceding it. However, EVERYTHING that happened could have happened independently. Like Oliver Twist. Indeed, it reminded me of the Big Bang Theory breakdown of Indiana Jones (beware – once you see it, you can’t unsee it!).

Throughout the book, there was a huge over-reliance on appearance. Bev constantly pointed out that his wife was foreign looking. The maternal and caring women (Neeva, Mildred and Florence) all wore green at one point or another. His parents didn’t ‘look’ like criminals…but turned out to be and of course that was one of the defining factors in their arrest. Dell constantly misread people, their motivations and the impact of their decisions and he was hugely judgmental about it. Ironically, CQ and Rudy were the most interesting characters – despite being described in the most unappealing terms. Rudy eating that under cooked steak was stomach churning, while CQ was portrayed as near deviant what with Dell afraid to go to the bathroom and noticing that CQ wore makeup…neither of which observations actually led to anything. Ultimately, they were the only ones that really seemed to live in the world as it was, recognise people for who they were and turned out to provide Dell with some much needed honesty and perspective.

We were disappointed regarding the characterisation. The parents were probably best described but were quite stereotypical. The father was pretty and dumb. He really wanted to rob a bank and one day…did. He didn’t kill anyone, even when he considered that he might be better of removing the witnesses because he hadn’t ever visualised that being part of his mental plan. The mother was intellectual and an outsider. We did quite enjoy speculating as to why Neeva had decided to accompany her husband on his criminal endeavors and decided that it was probably to prevent him from bringing Dell along instead. The sister was UGLY and free-spirited and therefore destined for an unhappy ending. (There was a Forrest Gump element that really bothered at least a few of us. If you were like Forrest and followed the rules, went with the flow and had no agency at all – things worked out for you. If you broke free of expectations, left the path outlined for you – things went very poorly for you.) Mildred was a drudge and functioned purely as a plot device. In face, quite a few of us were far more interested in Berner story – particularly after they separated and she went to San Francisco. The letter that she sent him was quite intriguing.

The main protagonist – our narrator – was UTTERLY passive. He didn’t seem capable of making a decision to save his life. He stayed in the house because his mother told his to. He slept with his sister because she had been planning to sleep with Rudy and he had left. He went with Mildred because that was the plan. At least two of us wondered how he had ever married – did Clare propose to him (leading to a beautiful chat about a friend of a friend who moved into her fella’s apartment gradually – without ever having a conversation about it). While he is ostensibly 15 years of age during the bulk of the book – he seemed much younger than that to us. His naivety might have been due to his isolation – enforced by his parents, but we weren’t convinced by it.

I couldn’t understand *why* the book was called Canada. It could have been called The Robbery, The Escape, Life without Parents. Fortunately, one of us had read an article where the author answered that very question. It was because he’d always wanted to write a book called Canada. *heads desk*

Having said all that, many of us would seek out another one of his books to read – the writing was that good, it made up for the galacial pace. Perhaps this, like Suttree was the author at his most introspective.

Regardless of the plot, we had a fantastic discussion – which always endears a book to me!

SCORE

5 out of 10

For further details, please email me at leedsbookclub@gmail.com or tweet me @LeedsBookClub

The Pub can be contacted on @WhiteSwanLeeds

And feel free to let us know your thoughts using #LBCWSwan!

LBC White Swan – Books ‘un’ picked

Book fallAs always we have a list left over, so if you’re looking for some suggestions, have a look here!

GO SET A WATCHMAN – Harper Lee

HOUSE OF ASHES – Monique Roffey

WHIT – Iain Banks

CLOUD ATLAS – David Mitchell

THE TROOP – Nick Cutter

THE 25TH HOUR – David Banioff

THE CASUAL VACANCY – J.K. Rowling

ALIAS GRACE – Margaret Atwood

UNDER HEAVEN – Guy Gavriel Kay

ANANSIS BOYS – Neil Gaiman

THE FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST – Claire North

A CHANGE OF CLIMATE – Hilary Mantel

LBC White Swan – Books ‘un’ picked

As always we have a list left over, so if you’re looking for some suggestions, have a look here!

BURIAL RITES – Hannah Kent

THE LACUNA – Barbara Kingsolver

THE CRANE WIFE – Patrick Ness

WANDERLUST – Rebecca Solnit

DRACULA – Bram Stoker

REBECCA – Daphne Du Maurier

UNDER HEAVEN – Guy Gavriel Kay x2

HOMICIDE – David Simon

THE WIND UP GIRL – Paolo Bacigalupi

GOOD OMENS – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES – Karen Joy Fowler

HOW TO BUILD A GIRL – Caitlin Moran

THE CITY AND THE CITY – China Mieville

ALIAS GRACE – Margaret Atwood

FRAGILE THINGS – Neil Gaiman

EVERYTHING I EVER TOLD YOU – Celeste Ng

THE MINIATURIST – Jessie Burton

THE PENELOPIAD – Margaret Atwood

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES – Fannie Flagg

ELIZABETH IS MISSING – Emma Healey

SALEM’S LOT – Stephen King

THE DEVIL IN THE MARSHALSEA – Antonia Hodgson

WSwan LBC – The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

LBC White Swan

Date:  Sunday 8th of February 2015
Time:  6:00pm
Address: Swan Street, Leeds

 

Discussing:

THE SONG OF ACHILLES

MADELINE MILLER

The BLURB ( Amazon)

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

The Book Club Verdict

Read another review from Helen HERE

12book "The Song of Achilles" by Madeline MillerThe BEST book clubs discussion usually have people who passionately (but respectfully) disagree with one another. This was one of those books that people either seemed to LOVE or HATE. Just like that. Strongly. Capital letters LOVE or HATE.

So our entire discussion felt like a game of two halves.

Someone would say that it was well written; while another would note that it read like poorly written fan fiction. A few book clubbers thought that the relationship between the two main characters was unhealthy and one-sided; others found it to be romantic and balanced. It was unnecessarily smutty versus a sensitive love story.

And so on. Which makes for a excellent conversation but a rather tricky write up!

The writing was the first issue we couldn’t agree on. On the one hand, the book was seen as poorly written fan fiction. Indeed, it was compared unfavorably to Twi…light. And this was only the first comparison with that *shudder* epic series. On the other it was seen as beautifully written – in particular one or two of us were struck by the opening page – the contrasting descriptions of Patroclus’ father and mother absolutely sucked us in! The book was described as a trashy romance with the backdrop of Trojan war, while others noted that anything written about Greek myths is a re-run; that it’s particularly difficult to say anything new about stories that have so permeated our collective consciousness but that everything old is made new again in literature. One of our book clubbers had read the book previously and found that it stood up to a repeat reading.

Structurally, the time jumps didn’t always work. The first section of the book seemed to flow very well, but later on the jumps seemed to be abrupt. There’s a war going for a decade – with a grotesque amount of bloodshed and death – but it didn’t always seem like much was happening at the time. In a similar way, we weren’t also able to gain a proper sense of geography or location. The castles are opulent, Chiron’s garden is eden like and the battlefields are violent and bloody. There wasn’t really anything groundbreaking in the presentation.

Which tied into a disappointing sense of inevitability for some of the readers. As we were so familiar with the endings of the major characters that there was less a sense of anticipation than waiting for the next step. None of the main character had any agency and every few pages we were reminded that there were prophecies that set everything in stone. This was contrasted with Shakespeare where, regardless of whether we know the plot or outcome characters are written so well that a person could hope for a different outcome. Then again, there is only the one Shakespeare for that very reason!

While some amongst us enjoyed the perspective offered by Patroclus; others felt that the author’s voice was too/the only one present throughout. That rather than being an immersive experience, it was merely the Homer story retold from Madeline Miller’s perspective. For the most part, we did enjoy that this was very respectful to the source material – for example the presence of gods and centaur’s are not explained away but play the role (or a version of it) as originally envisioned. Similarly, there is not mention of the infamous ‘heel’ as it wasn’t part of the original tale…though this was disappointing to at least one book clubber who found Achilles to be a numpty and would have liked to have him picked up by his ankle and spun around till he had some sense! That might look odd written down but it absolutely captured the mood and the majority’s perspective! (Though we did also note that the heel could be seen as a metaphor for his great flaws – his unyielding pride and the ego that forced him to go to war in the first place – see, we’re intellectual giants as well as hilarious). We wandered off for a little while on the topic of Troy, where Petroclus is written as Achilles cousin and the differing way of interpreting Homer’s epic. It *was* shocking that Achilles fell apart when Patroclus died; that he became so brutal and violated Hector’s body and that they had a shared tomb. Frankly, this perspective – to me if no one else – felt more reasonable and reasoned an explanation.

One of the more agreed upon points related to the absence of strong characterisation. Very few of those present are given much depth (though it depended on whether you enjoyed the book or not if that applied to the two primary protagonists) and those that are developed are pretty unpleasant. Odyssey for example comes off well at his initial appearance – he loves his wife for example – but that starts to falter the longer you peer at him – sure he loves his wife…from a great distance! Ultimately, as entertaining as he may be, he is also a bit of a manipulative bell end. One of the better developed secondary characters was Thetis – awful but also what choice did she have? She has a fantastically horrible origin tale. I for one felt that context definitely made her what she is. We agreed that it was essential to have included her myth as otherwise she was purely monstrous. With it’s inclusion, her story as one marked by a familial betrayal (by the Gods). Her son was destined to be greater than his father so the Gods let her be abused, captured and – not to put to fine a point on it – raped by a mortal. From that point onwards, she is mighty in Patroclus eyes, but diminished in every other scene by men. As a lowly water nymph, her situation results in her being so much less and yet more that she would have been before. Still, due to the war situation; we found it fun that so many of the ‘notables’ of Greek mythology were able to bob in without it feeling forced or crowded.

It was frankly a ‘really rubbish time to be a woman’. Now is…better, we agreed after some consideration – at least for us in the UK but back then it was a truly SHOCKING time to be alive and female. I mean Thetis was a cold, hard mummy-flipper, arguably driven to it by her treatment by both the Gods and King Peleus (though we agreed that her raising Pyrrhus to be an unapologetic sociopath was a bit of a mark against her) but every woman in this is subjugated to some extent. Perhaps none more than the daughter of King Agamemnon – Iphigenia. She is dragged into our tale ostensibly to be married off to Achilles. Less than a page later, she is instead killed by her father to appease the goddess Artemis AND MAKE THE WINDS BLOW. Seriously, that’s her sole purpose in life. And, perhaps, obliquely to demonstrate to Achilles that he cannot change destined events; that he is powerless to act in certain situations. It’s pretty grim really.

Perhaps the most conversation revolved around the love story between Achilles and Patroclus. For some their youth spoke against them and there was no depth or sensitivity. It was an unhealthy relationship with a power imbalance. And that the relationship was similar to that of Bella and Edward in Twi…light. Bella/Patroclus feel small and undeserving; demonstrating an element of hero worship in their affection for Edward/Achilles. While I spluttered incoherently, a more articulate book clubber noted that this was a false comparison. Patroclus was a character who was deeply damaged by his father and abandoned by the age of 12. Bella was 17, raised in a normal environment with a family who supported and loved her. Sure, there is a one sidedness to the depiction but even in Patroclus humble assessment; Achilles frequently demonstrates that he sees more in Patroclus than the protagonist does in himself. For some of us, there was an element of Plato in their relationship. When they were with Chiron; they proved that they complemented one another, that each provided what the other lacked. Oh great, I’m all sobby again!

We also chatted a little about Achilles’ sojourn in Scyros. We found it very strange that Achilles would have agreed to go to King Lycomedes; that he would have accepted dressing up as a woman – the ‘humiliation’ of discovery of this which led to his decision to fight …let alone his curiously unemotional seduction by the Princess Deidameia – who had some serious self esteem issues and a woefully unsuccessful taste in men. Though of course it *had* to be included in order to ensure that Pyrrhus was born.

For many of us, one of the most jarring scenes was when Patroclus slept with Achilles wife Deidameia – it felt as though he was motivated by pity and some sense of having something that he could keep from Achilles. While it did introduce a different dynamic – after all Achilles had revealed all about what he clearly saw as his betrayal of Patroclus – the man he treated and declared as his husband; it never went anywhere. Patroclus kept his secret. He never used it or seemed to reflect on it again. Perhaps it was there to contrast with his proposition by Briseis – due to his genuine affection for her, he couldn’t consummate? Strange and odd.

The ending was – as you have probably gathered – equally polarizing. For those who knew their history; it was inevitable. Personally, I found it to be a victory. That it was Thetis – who had finally had her way; who had taken a child and raised him to be a monster hero – that she had allowed Patroclus to tell his memories and therefore justify his place in history alongside the man he had so utterly loved for so long. Perhaps that is also fulfilled in some way the maternal instincts that were either not natural to the gods or suppressed in her for so long. That she finally conceded his value by adding his name to Achilles’ tomb. One of the clubbers spoke of how Alexander and many others had visited the tomb as a place for lovers for a long time after their deaths and I all but cried in front of everyone again! Honestly, something about this book brings out the inner sap in me and no mistake!

SCORE

7 out of 10

For further details, please email me at leedsbookclub@gmail.com or tweet me @LeedsBookClub

The Pub can be contacted on @WhiteSwanLeeds

And feel free to let us know your thoughts using #WSwanLBC!

WSwan LBC – The Vet’s Daughter – Barbara Comyns

LBC White Swan

Date:  Sunday 11th of January 2015
Time:  6:00pm
Address: Swan Street, Leeds

 

Discussing:

THE VET’S DAUGHTER

BARBARA COMYNS

The BLURB (or actually, its more of a summary from Amazon)

In this Freudian fantasy, Alice Rowlands lives with a father glowering ‘like a disappointed thunderstorm’, a fast-fading mother and a beastly menagerie in a dark house in 1930s Battersea. With her mother’s death, life becomes almost intolerable for Alice, whose father treats her as a slave. Then kind ‘Blinkers’, the vet’s assistant, arranges for her to live with his mother in the country.

There, Alice revels in the beauty of nature and falls head over heels for Nicholas, the lovely boy who takes her skating, motoring, and smiles at her. But Nicholas has other fish to fry, and Alice is forced to fall back on a talent for rising above her troubles . . .

Back in London, that talent comes to the attention of her father — who rapaciously propels Alice towards fame on Clapham Common . . .

The Book Club Verdict

Whoops – meant to say – huge thanks to @woodsiegirl for the delicious biscuits!

Cover picked to infuriate Liam

Cover picked to infuriate Liam

This was my first book club of the year (though Helen had an Outlaws last week) so – as is usual – I was a bit nervous about it. What if no one turned up? What if we said everything in five minutes or less? Or worse, what if we had NOTHING to say about the book at all? All very standard book clubbing worries, I’m sure!

However, it turned out that as a book club, we were raring to go. Before everyone had arrived, there were mini-chats going on about magical realism, fantasy and writing style!

From the outset, everyone agreed that this was a very odd little book. Some (like me) had absolutely loved it. Others had found it to be too strange. And there were some that found it to be utterly pointless.

I had found the title to be very strange. Of all the relationships within the book, the father being a vet seemed to have little bearing on the plot. However, as the conversation developed, I realised that I was utterly wrong on that score. While his profession might seem incidental, Alice Rowlands is very much her fathers possession and – as one of our members pointed out, he used her right up to the end. After all, she might easily have been the Postman’s daughter – had her mother married him. That might seem to be a very obvious statement but it carried more impact if you’ve read the book. Additionally, his job seems to have impacted upon his actions (or potential actions – we couldn’t quite agree on this!) in relation to the death of his wife, Alice’s mothers. Also, there were frequent references to animals in pain, distress and being sent off to the vivisectionist, which were both telling for the time period and his state of mind (if he can’t cure them, he has them put down) and off putting.

With regards to character development, we were divided. Some of us felt that the characters were very sharply delineated – especially given how short the book was. However, others felt that the characters were given no dimension and that as a reader, they were constantly searching for greater depth. The father for example – was he a good vet? Henry seemed to think so but reading it with a more modern viewpoint definitely put that into question. Rosa was an obnoxious snob and callous creature yet her ending still induced a degree of sympathy…as much as one can have for someone who tries to sell an unwitting person for sex…

Alice was indescribably naive and short sighted and seemed to accept the various situations she was placed in without every questioning it or requiring more information. This was indisputably the case regarding her move to take care of Mrs Peebles. At some point surely someone must have considered that Alice would need to know that Mrs Peebles was suicidal and had indeed almost burned her home to the ground…and yet, she is sent in blind.

For one thing, though the language used throughout is very basic, Alice seemed to have a better understanding of the world that her family gave her credit for. She was frequently described as being simple but her own viewpoint seemed perfectly aware. She was a very young 17 and occasionally seemed a bit younger, meaning a few of us had needed contextual cues to deduce her age. Although she could occasionally behave a bit idiotically; wasn’t really an idiot. As a narrator, there is a simplistic honesty in her storytelling style that was very sincere. Her sadness was affecting and moving/cloying and overtly reductionist depending on which half of the group you chat to!

Naturally, we couldn’t restrain ourselves any longer and began to discuss the leviation/floating/flying aspect. For a few of us, this had been a strange aspect – we considered it at first to be medical – could she have had epilepsy perhaps? Of course the ending of the book rendered that theory redundant. Of course, others had read it exactly as described – she said she floated so she floated. It wasn’t a dream or a metaphor or indicative of anything other than floating. After all the rest of the world depicted in the book was very realistically described. Why would that event be any different? As you might expect, we were equally divided as to whether or not it’s inclusion was useful or not. Here we wandered off the path for a moment and briefly mentioned the films Special and Bolt – whereby someone (and in the latter case a dog) thinks that they have superpowers but actually don’t. Sounds fantastic and I’ll be seeking them out to watch in the future!

Her relationship with Nicholas was of great interest to us. In Alice’s eyes, there was a definite flirtation, though he did find her levitation to be very weird. However, much or all of this could have been in her imagination – her reading far more into the situation than there actually was – see above re behaving a bit idiotically. Henry Peebles on the other hand was a perfectly suitable suitor – if a somewhat bland one. Yet Alice just didn’t fancy him. It was a nice piece of convention defying writing for most of us, quite realistic.

A number of people brought up the pacing of the book as being a bit off. It seemed to speed up during the middle but then slowed down completely again. The levitation as a plot device enters very late into the book and is an utter break from both the whimsy and realism that had been depicted up until that point.

The majority of us did agree that the writing was something very different and a bit special. The mother telling the story of her childhood was a particular high point for most of us.

As has happened at least once before, we were collectively very disappointed with the introduction included in most of the varying versions of the book. It completely spoiled the vast majority of the book so those who read it ahead of the novel lost the element of surprise totally. It also kept referring to the ‘fateful final chapter’ which was irritating. However, perhaps more significantly, we found it very distasteful that the person providing the introduction – who had met Barbara Comyns for tea – portrayed the author as a whimsical Bohemian type. Worst of all, she then questioned the semi-autobiographical aspects in relation to the abusive parent on the basis that they had been excellent grandparents. More than a little offensive, we agreed and a dis-service to the author (to quote one particularly eloquent member).

Only myself and one other actually planned on reading more Barbara Comyn’s works. However, quite a few of us would have been interested in reading an autobiography of the author. Particularly in relation to her friendship with the treasonous spy Kim Philby!

All in all, it was a really wonderful discussion. Thanks to everyone for being there!

SCORE

6 out of 10

For further details, please email me at leedsbookclub@gmail.com or tweet me @LeedsBookClub

The Pub can be contacted on @WhiteSwanLeeds

And feel free to let us know your thoughts using #WSwanLBC!

 

Highlight of the year – Book wise!

Across the book clubs we read a huge range of different types of books in a year. Some stories and styles more naturally appeal than others; some winded me up thoroughly in very unexpectedly ways and a few just took my breath away.

In previous years, I’ve been hard pressed to pick a favourite story across a year, let alone across the book clubs (and – frankly – I haven’t been that bothered so I just let it go). This year however, one choice in particularly has greatly impacted upon me.

Augustus

John Williams

augustusWritten in 1972 and the joint winner of the following years National Book Award for Fiction, this book comprises of a series of letters which follow the path of Gaius Octavius Caesar. His path, for Williams, begins on the date that Julius Caesar is killed and follows through his ascendancy via war and violent retribution – first into the ruling triumvirs then to the position of First Citizen (Emperor) of Rome. Alongside Octavius, we learn the fates of several of Rome’s most illustrious citizens – including Mark Antony and Brutus.

John Williams – ever a writer who marched to the beat of his own drum – broke from convention in his portrayal of Augustus in a more sympathetic light than the biographers of his day. Here, Octavius is logical – his lack of mercy for his enemies seen more as pure pragmatism than cruelty or blood lust. While his reign was forged in blood and vengeance; he is also recognised as being a stable leader, one under whom Rome appeared to flourish. His letters reflect a man capable of seeing beyond his own moment of time.

“Rome is not eternal; it does not matter. Rome will fall; it does not matter. The barbarian will conquer; it does not matter. There was a moment of Rome, and it will not wholly die.”

John Williams only ever wrote four novels and Augustus was the most acclaimed during his lifetime, though Stoner has certainly been rapidly gaining admirers in recent years. Each book was of a totally different style and subject matter. I’ve read Stoner (which I didn’t love exactly, but enjoyed the read of) and will one day tackle both Butcher’s Crossing and Nothing but the Night. I almost wish I go back in time though, to read them all in order – I can’t imagine anything ever matching up to the enjoyment I had during Augustus.

When heading into the White Swan LBC meet up; I had been worried that the book might not have had the same impact on others. I needn’t have been.

We had a fantastic conversation. We loved the epistle style; the characters; the development and the fact that Octavius himself remains silent for the first two thirds of the book. Julia was a particular conversational piece and we happily debated her change in status with glee.

Nearly everyone agreed that they would have continued reading the lives of the next three Caesars…heck, one or two or us would have read the story of the next 2000 years if John Williams had been the one writing it!

Indeed, we were so enamored with this book that we picked Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare as our 2014 Christmas read-a-long.

 

augustus 01

January read for LBCWhiteswan @whiteswanleeds

Wow, tonight was the last meeting for White Swan in 2014. Can you believe it another year gone. And we’ve picked January’s and it looks a corker!

The Vet’s Daughter by Barbara Comyns,

1073750 Meet on the 11th January 2015 at 6pm at the White Swan Leeds

Books not picked for LBCWhiteswan

As White Swan returns to its monthly meetings and new books were selected It I thought I’d share what wasn’t picked as a reading list for anyone looking for their next read but would love to see them as a future boook club choice as there’s so such a variety here. Enjoy.

  • American Gods -Neil Gaiman
  • Twelve years a slave – Solomon Northup
  • The Man in the high castle – Philip K. Dick
  • The Three Musketeers –  Alexandre Dumas
  • Bridget Jones Diary Mad about the boy -Helen Fieldin
  • Mistborn: The Final Empire – Brandon Sanderson
  • Lexicon – Max Barry
  • The Goldfinch -Donna Tartt
  • Little friend -Donna Tartt
  • The Princess Bride – Wiliam Goldman
  • Art of fielding-  Chad Harbach
  • Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
  • Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
  • The Shadow of the Wind  by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  • Notes from a big country – Bill Bryson
  • The care of wooden floors – Will Wiles
  • Tinker Tailor soldier Spy – John le Carré
  • The Gunslinger – Stephen King
  • The Shining Girls -Lauren Beukes
  • White Teeth – Zadie Smith
  • Babayaga – Toby Barlow
  • Palo Alto – James Franco
  • Gone with the wind – Magaret Mitchell

October is HERE!!

Can you believe it? September is almost over and we’re fast approaching October so here’s some dates for your diaries. We can’t wait to see you there!

LBCMedusa, Horsforth – 7:30pm  –  8th October 2014

– Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

LBCWhiteswan – 6pm -12th October 2014

– The Raw Shark Texts – Steven Hall

LBCPuffins – 6:30pm  – (at White Swan Leeds) – 15th October

– Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones

Sharing Stories – 6pm – at The Tetley – 20th October

– Elizabeth is Missing AND A Life Examined

LBCOutlaws – 23rd October

– Wrath of Angels – John Connolly

LBCDystopia – 6pm – Crowd of Favours – 28th October

– Gone Away World – Nick Harkaway

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