The Clothes On Their Backs – Linda Grant

clothes on their backsREAD FOR BOOKERTHON

Vivien Kovacs is sensitive and bookish and defines herself by her clothes. She grows up sealed off from the world by her timid Hungarian refugee parents, but finds solace in the family secrets her estranged uncle reveals.

♥ “The relationship between the protagonist and her uncle holds the story together, but the other plot lines don’t seem as connected. I’m glad I’ve read it, but it did seem a bit of an un-Booker Booker shortlister.” – Rachel

♥ “And from me …..” – Suzy

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Published 2008
Scribner
293 pages

Sea of Poppies – Amitav Ghosh

sea of poppies

READ FOR BOOKERTHON

Set prior to the first Opium war, on the banks of the holy river Ganges, this book portrays the characters as poppy seeds emanating in large numbers from the field to form a sea, where every single seed is uncertain about its future.

♥ “Thoughts” – Suzy

♥ “The text is sensory and thick with meaning. It seems to be a moving and significant work that needs to be read attentively and fully absorbed to be appreciated.” – Rachel

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Published 2008
John Murray
528 pages

A Fraction Of The Whole – Steve Toltz

fraction of the wholeREAD FOR BOOKERTHON

From his prison cell, Jasper Dean tells the unlikely story of his scheming father Martin, his crazy Uncle Terry and how the three of them upset – mostly unintentionally – an entire continent.

♥ “Raucously funny, A Fraction Of The Whole had me spell-bound. Not what I’d expect from a Man Booker shortlister but I am pleased it made the cut as it added some light-heartedness to the proceedings. There are loopy characters and purposefully overworked plot lines and everything spirals together until it is all so ridiculous you just have to find out what’s going to happen!” – Rachel

♥ “Thoughts” – Suzy

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Published 2008
Hamish Hamilton
711 pages

Back Booker 2005

2005 By the time the year is over we will have completed three Bookerthons! Can you tell this is our new favourite  pastime?!

We chose 2005 this time as we’ve recently read two of the shortlisters, plus  we’ve heard great things about the other four.

Our thoughts?

As with the last Back Booker, we were swayed by the pre-existing attachment to one of the contenders ie Never Let Me Go for its dystopian/science fiction/very human story all tied up into one. Again, we were disappointed it wasn’t the clear favourite back in 2005.

A Long, Long Way is quite emotionally captivating and could easily have won. Arthur & George is a fascinating look into the time Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sought to solve a real mystery, and On Beauty is a contemporary nod to Howards End. We had mixed thoughts on The Accidental, having been entertained but not quite keeping up with Ali Smith’s genius. The Sea, while clever and with charming characters, we found it a bit contrived and neither of us would have guessed it would win had we Bookerthoned that year!

Best book 1-6: Rachel:

Never Let Me Go
A Long Long Way
On Beauty
Arthur & George
The Accidental
The Sea

Best book 1-6: Suzy:

Never Let Me Go
The Accidental
Arthur & George
On Beauty
A Long Long Way
The Sea

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

wuthering heightsREAD FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Nadine

Published in 1847, Wuthering Heights is a story of love and revenge and follows the trials and tribulations of a mysterious man called Heathcliff.

♥ “A book that….” – Nadine

♥ “And from me …..” – Suzy

♥ “Another book I should’ve read long ago, but pleased to have a reason to indulge now. Love a bit of societal injustice, revenge and challenging of the ideals, so this was an enjoyable read. ” – Rachel

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Published 1847
Thomas Cautley Newby
214 pages

The Sound of Butterflies – Rachael King

sound of butterfliesREAD FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Rachel

Young lepidopterist Thomas Edgar arrives home from a collecting expedition in the Amazon in an emaciated state and unable to speak.

♥ “A sensory book in which every person, action and location is well captured. A fascinating setting and exciting string of events, and as such I learnt a lot while being completely entertained.” – Rachel

♥ “Ever since a slightly terrifying book read at school as an 8 year old I have been slightly edgy around moths and even butterflies.  The story ended with thousands of evil moths beating their wings against a door trying to reach the person inside.  My kid overactive imagination (not improved by adulthood actually) went a step further – *obviously* the the moths beat down the door and ate the person.  THIS BOOK BY RACHAEL KING DID NOT HELP.  But all is forgiven as this is a beautiful book.  I was there alongside the characters, feeling exhilarated and sweaty in the jungle and also then repressed and sad in the stuffiness of England. A great read.” – Suzy

♥ “Thoughts” – Nadine

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Published 2008
Picador
386 pages

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

In-Cold-Blood (1)READ FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Suzy

Considered the original non-fiction novel, In Cold Blood details the 1959 murders of Kansas farmer Herbert Clutter and his family.

“Thoughts” – Suzy

“A chilling story that kind of crept up on me. Chilling because it was a true story. But also I think knowing the events that took place at the beginning of the book left me unprepared for almost feeling empathy for the killers at the end of it!” – Nadine

“Aside from biographies, I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. But this is the kind of non-fiction I do like. A nail-biting, well-built plot made all the more astounding by knowing it actually happened. Enjoyed hearing the story behind the story, too.” – Rachel

The God Of Small Things – Arundhati Roy

God of Small ThingsREAD FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Nadine

This Indian novel discusses who should be loved, and how. And how much. It describes how small things affect people’s behaviour and lives. It won the Booker Prize in 1997.

♥ “A book that….” – Nadine

♥ “And from me …..” – Suzy

♥ “The characters are so likeable from the first page that I could not help but read on. The author’s portrayal of innocence is touching. The narrative jumps around a bit but is fairly easy to follow.” – Rachel

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Published 1997
IndiaInk
368 pages

Accordion Crimes – Annie Proulx

Accordion crimesREAD FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Rachel

The history of America’s founders is told by the travels of an accordion, and the hands it passes through.

♥ “I really enjoyed this book. It was a unique way to tell a story and I enjoyed learning about the history of a country, albeit in a round-about way. It was strange but hilarious how each chapter ended with a quick summary of the characters from that particular tale and how each of them died or was maimed in some gory way!” – Rachel

♥ “Thoughts” – Suzy

♥ “Thoughts” – Nadine

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Published 1996
Scribner
544 pages

Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D H Lawrence

lady cahtterley's loverREAD FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Suzy

Lady Chatterley’s Lover was published in 1928 and became notorious for its story of a relationship between a working-class man and an upper-class woman, its explicit descriptions of sex, and its use of then-unprintable words.

♥ “Thoughts” – Suzy

♥ “The shock factor of this book is obviously no longer so relevant but bearing the age of the book in mind as I read made it more fascinating.” – Rachel

♥ “Thoughts” – Nadine

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Published 1928
Tipografia Giuntina
352 pages