The Buddha of Suburbia – Hanif Kureishi

buddha of suburbiaREAD FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Rachel

Karim, a mixed-race teenager, leaves the suburbs and moves first to London and then New York in this realist novel.

❚ “A contemporary story that strikes a chord on many levels. There is no great plot, or surprise ending but Kureishi does poignantly detail British attitudes towards foreigners, as well as strongly held opinions on race, politics and sexuality. As a non-Brit I enjoyed the ’70s UK education, especially the pop culture and politics. This was a journey not just a story.” – Rachel

Published 1990
Faber & Faber
288 pages

Tess Of The D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

Tess of the d'urbervillesREAD FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Ros

In this 1891 book, a poor young woman discovers she may be descended from nobility and goes in search of a better life, but through a series of fatal events discovers she is the master of her destiny.

❚ “For such an aged novel, this contains very contemporary ideas. And while Tess is presented as the ultimate victim, she is a fascinating character study and grows in moral stature as each page commences. She kind of lives beyond the page and she is the reason for reading this book.” – Rachel

Published 1891
McIlvanie & Co
592 pages

2009 – Chapter Three

2009Chapter three, or otherwise known as the spot between the intro and the rest of the story, when things can stall, when reader investment is at the make or break point. Yes it’s all or nothing from this point on.

Luckily we’re all in the firm belief that it’s ALL  for us.

We may have a couple of third year itches to scratch (in terms of frequency) but are all still eager and passionate about bookclub. Look out chapter four!

We’re growing too. We have secured a fourth bookclubber – the lovely Ros – who adds a new dimension to our readings which we welcome with open arms.

As mentioned above, our frequency seems to have petered out a little and we have moved to four weekly (yes we have husbands and families to consider in our time management!) Nonetheless we have a varied reading list for the year which includes fabulous classics, New Zealand fiction & poetry and some new releases which everyone is talking about so we thought we better read them and be able to contribute to the many conversations which are circulating.

Tess of The D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
The Buddha of Suburbia – Hanif Kureishi
The Vintner’s Luck – Elizabeth Knox
Anne of Green Gables – L M Montgomery
The Outcast – Sadie Jones
Twilight – Stephanie Meyer
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
The Potato Factory – Bryce Courtenay
Ooooooo…!!! – Hone Tuwhare
The 10pm Question – Kate de Goldi
Netherland – Joseph O’Neill

2008 – End Of Year Thoughts

Boutereys+main+with+medal+copyAt the end of the year we again headed out for a meal to discuss the year’s readings. This time to Bouterey’s Restaurant. So engrossed were we in our literary discussions we did not notice the restauranteur performing the heimlich manoeuvre on a fellow diner and in fact did not realise anything was amiss until the ambulance arrived!

Again we discussed our favourite scenes, literary devices, characters and fictional love interests. Though we all agreed Lady Chatterley and Oliver Mellors certainly provided the most interesting romance.

Book of the year:
Rachel: Disgrace
Suzy: ????
Nadine: The Child In Time

Runner up:
Rachel: The Child In Time
Suzy: ???
Nadine: Middlesex

Favourite character:
Rachel: Cal from Middlesex
Suzy: ???
Nadine: Heath from Wuthering Heights

The Plague – Albert Camus


Chosen by Rachel

The story of an Algerian city swept by a plague. It raises questions relating to destiny and  human psychology.

♥ “This book’s references to WWII and the Nazi occupation of France were significant, as was the author’s dissection of the human condition. But it was a bleak story with no hope of redemption, and I had to ensure I did not let that overshadow the story’s importance. Pleased I read this masterpiece.” – Rachel

Published 1947
Alfred A Knopf
304 pages

And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie

And then there were noneREAD FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Suzy

Considered Agatha Christie’s masterpiece, this whodunnit is set on an island where the invitees of a party must work out who is killing off the guests.

♥ “An absolute classic of the genre! My Dad recommended this to me when I was a young teenager and now my own son is reading it. My favourite ‘whodunnit’ ever. I’ve read it a few times now and even though I know what’s coming up I still get the chills. This novel has two former titles that are terrible – you’ve been warned…” – Suzy

♥ “As the book says, Agatha Christie is the queen of mystery, and I certainly couldn’t work out exactly who was up to what. Nothing like going back to the original Mr Green-in-the-library-with-the-candlestick murder mystery. Loved it.” – Rachel

♥ “I’m a bit of an Agatha Christie  fan, so it was never going to disappoint.” – Nadine

Published 1939
Collins Crime Club
272 pages

2008 – Bookerthon

2008 BookerThe anticipation levels for Bookerthon 2008 has fluctuated for us both. First of all our inability to pick a winner last year has frayed our nerves, plus the couple of massive tomes shortlisted this year meant we had to read at least 60 pages per day for five weeks. On the up side, we got to read more – onwards and upwards!

Again, as we judged the shortlisters, we have considered the following categories: readability, significance and style – whether or not that is in alignment with how the judges critique, we will never know …

This year, however, we did get to read six fantastic, albeit very different books.

A Fraction of the Whole is so incredibly laugh-out-loud funny and so unusual it would be a long shot for the prestigious Man Booker prize, though a deserved winner if the judges went in this direction.

The Secret Scripture is profound but touching and startling too and could be a strong contender to win. So too The Northern Clemency – a portrait of an era in an 800-page epic novel deserves some kudos.

The Clothes on Their Back is interesting and very readable though not as polished as the other five.

In the end, Suzy is choosing Sea of Poppies as her pick for winner, a historically significant and beautiful book.

Rachel is going for The White Tiger for its poignant and entertaining way of highlighting societal injustices.

Best book 1-6: Suzy:

Sea Of Poppies

Best book 1-6: Rachel:

The White Tiger
The Secret Scripture
A Fraction Of The Whole
Sea Of Poppies
The Northern Clemency
The Clothes On Their Back

The Secret Scripture – Sebastian Barry

secret scripturesREAD FOR BOOKERTHON

Set against an Ireland besieged by conflict, The Secret Scripture is a tale of a 100-year-old woman’s life, and a vivid reminder of the stranglehold the Catholic church had on individuals throughout much of the twentieth century.

♥ “Irish conflict usually doesn’t hold my attention, but the centenarian, Roseanne McNulty, in The Secret Scripture steals the limelight and helps build the poignant tale about loss and broken promises. Her voice is both compounding and personable at the same time, revealing much in her story fragments. Barry’s style is beautiful and highly sensory, a story where every word counts.” – Rachel

Published 2008
Faber & Faber
312 pages

The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga


This novel provides a darkly humorous perspective of India’s class struggle in a globalised world as told through a retrospective narration from Balram Halwai, a village boy.

♥ “At the centre of this book is a touching story about India’s class system and the injustices that come with it. On the surface is Balram Halwai, a charming protagonist who manages to con his way through life. The dark humour ties the reality together and produces a provocative novel. I found this book hard to put down.” – Rachel

Published 2008
318 pages

The Northern Clemency – Philip Hensher

northern clemencyREAD FOR BOOKERTHON

Beginning in 1974 and ending with Thatcher’s government in 1996, The Northern Clemency is a portrait of an era, a novel concerned with the lives of ordinary people and history on the move.

♥ “This book encapsulates an era and follows the lives two suburban families living in the same street. The true-to-life characters are highly detailed, from the main personalities through to the cast of minor characters. Births, deaths and marriages are in high supply and the detail with which it is all narrated is what made this 700-page novel addictive. It was a shame I was hurrying for Bookerthon as it’s the kind of book you want to savour over weeks.” – Rachel

Published 2008
Harper Collins
736 pages