The Whale Rider – Witi Ihimaera


Chosen by Suzy

Paikea Apirana is a 12-year-old Maori girl who wants to become the chief of her tribe, but must battle her grandfather Koro to make herself heard.

♥ “If you are a New Zealander and you haven’t read this book then for the love of God at least go and see the bloody movie!  But preferably read the book.  Yes it’s essentially a children’s book but I was as happily enthralled in this as I have been in any novel written for adults.  HURRY UP! READ IT!!” – Suzy

♥ “Usually I read the book and don’t even watch the movie!, but did enjoy them in reverse in this instance. And I think it ruined the book for me a little as I couldn’t help but picture the movie as I read. Nonetheless, this is an excellent book that every New Zealander and every child trying to find their place in the world should read.” – Rachel

♥ “I thought …” – Nadine


Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides


Chosen by Nadine

Middlesex is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel which chronicles the impact of an intersex gene on three generations of a Greek family.

♥ “Middlesex takes you on a sweeping journey and was quite different to what you might expect from a book about a hermaphrodite. I liked  it, but upon reflection think something didn’t quite gel for me.” – Nadine

♥ “Carefully handled story of a hermaphrodite who struggles with identity issues. Tracing the gene through generations of family provided many interesting stories and gave the story more of an epic feel. An intriguing book that covers a unique topic, with charming characters to lead you through the story.” – Rachel

♥ “Thoughts” – Suzy

Published 2002
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
544 pages

2008 – The First Rule of Bookclub

2008Actually there is no first rule of bookclub, that’s the fabulous thing about it. The phrase, obviously borrowed from Chuck Palahniuk’s The Fight Club, was actually initiated by the husbands, perhaps mockingly, though I’d hope in a jealous of-our-bond kind of way. (I’m sure it’s not because they don’t want to hear about it … ?!) Whatever the case, the phrase appears to have stuck and has come to mean everything and also nothing, for there are no rules in bookclub but it is everything to us. 🙂

In 2008 all three bookclubbers remain. Fully engaged and into the swing of things we are eager to explore more authors and genres and share our past literary loves.

We have chosen four books each over the year and plan to meet every three weeks. Many of our choices are classics though we’ve thrown in a couple of modern New Zealand novels and a fictionalised non-fiction, too.

Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
The Whale Rider – Witi Ihimaera
Disgrace – J M Coetzee
The Child In Time – Ian McEwan
Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D H Lawrence
Accordion Crimes – Annie Proulx
The God Of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
The Sound of Butterflies – Rachael King
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
The Plague – Albert Camus

2007 – End of year thoughts

45590e8590de878109016747cb0251ab.pad-eeeeee.632x474At the end of the year we decided to head out for lunch and discuss the year’s readings.

We dined at Stoneridge Cafe in the Moutere countryside and discussed our favourite scenes, literary devices, characters and fictional love interests. And, we came up with following:


Book of the year:
Rachel: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Suzy: Catcher In The Rye
Nadine: Life Of Pi

Runner up best book:
Rachel: Atonement
Suzy: Atonement
Nadine: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

(Haha and from what I remember, Nadine’s husband made us *awesome* bookclub bookmarks – Suzy)

The Metamorphosis & Other Stories – Franz Kafka



Chosen by Rachel

Gregor Samsa awakens one morning to discover he has turned into a giant insect, in this 1915 novella. An establishing story in the existentialism genre.

“I am sure I should have read Kakfa before now! His stories make so much contemporary literature make sense. As I read The Metamorphosis I realised I am not only indebted to Kafka for his own brilliant fiction but for the influence he’s had on many celebrated modern writers. The stories in themselves are crazy and ask you as the reader to be willing to accept impossible possibilities and if you can do this, these stories are extraordinary. I immediately read more of his work following this bookclub meet.” – Rachel

“And from me …..” – Suzy

“And from me …..” – Nadine

Published 1915
Kurt Wolff Verlag, Leipzig
52 pages

Atonement – Ian McEwan



Chosen by Suzy

An upper-class girl’s half-innocent mistake ruins the lives of those around her, and she spends the rest of her life attempting to atone. 

“The thing I love about Ian McEwan is his ability to refashion ordinary things into sensory experiences. Reading his work makes me feel as though I’ve been there, met the folk and lived the complexities of their lives. Atonement is no different. And in fact probably better. Robbie and Cecilia are my friends, I can see the vast Tallis mansion behind my eyes and will remember the scene on Dunkirk for a long time to come. I adore this book.” – Rachel

“This book still haunts me!  The retreat to Dunkirk was so evocatively written that I felt I could have sat down with a soldier who was there and genuinely related to him and discussed it as a shared experience (yes I *do* realise how ridiculous that sounds). One of my all-time favourites and one of the few novels where I think the movie has done it justice.” – Suzy

Published 2001
Jonathan Cape
371 pages

The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro


Chosen by Rachel

Ryder, a famous pianist, arrives in a central European city to perform a concert. However, he appears to have lost most of his memory and finds his new environment surreal and dreamlike.

“While some may say this book was baffling, I found the confusion consistent. It made Ryder a believable character and heightened my sense of intrigue. Once I accepted things were not simple, nor offered in a succinct manner, I enjoyed the roller coaster ride. I was happy with the conclusion too, it suited the chaos of the narrative. To have everything spelled out and explained on the final pages would have been a disappointment.” – Rachel

“I didn’t really enjoy this book – I know a lot of it probably went over my head. Also, I couldn’t relate to the main character so I think it lost me there and then.” – Nadine

“Thoughts”  – Suzy

Published 1995
Faber & Faber
535 pages


2007 Bookerthon

Booker 2007We thoroughly enjoyed our first Bookerthon, and feel privileged to have read six of the best books of the year one after another. We are pleased to see a Kiwi amongst the contenders, as well as Ian McEwan, whom we both adore.

In picking our winners, we have considered the following categories: readability, significance and writing style (from a complete novice point of view!)

Overall, we consider five of the six to have qualities worthy of winning: Mister Pip, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Animal’s People are all profound and human, set amongst real-life atrocities, and Darkmans is a detailed and unique story. On Chesil Beach is from the master himself, and while we do both respect his genius, we have differing views of where this one sits in the shortlist favourites order.

The book we do not think is a contender is The Gathering. Something so dreary fails our readability criteria and couldn’t make up for it with the other two categories.

In the end we’ve both picked our favourites for the same reasons: slap-in-the-face reality, highly developed characters and ability to promote a cause through a fictionalised truth. So for Rachel it’s Animal’s People and for Suzy Mister Pip.


Best book 1-6: Rachel:

Animal’s People
Mister Pip
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
On Chesil Beach
The Gathering

Best book 1-6: Suzy:

Mister Pip
On Chesil Beach
Animal’s People
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
The Gathering

On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwan



In this novella a newly married couple reflect on their pasts and as a result question their marriage while honeymooning on Chesil Beach.

“The opening line of On Chesil Beach sums it all up really: ‘They were young, educated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible.’

“It is 1962, the cusp of the sexual revolution, and two very English characters are contemplating the role of sex in their newly declared marriage. There are many factors that contribute to their differing views, not contained to the time and place, but also societal class systems and other goings on. The setting is certainly alive and relevant in this book.

“However, while I am an Ian McEwan fan of the highest order, On Chesil Beach left me wanting. There was his usual mastery of prose but somehow it seemed too easy. I’m being critical, obviously, because even a bad Ian McEwen book would be better than most texts on the bookshop shelves!, but I guess being the huge fan that I am means I am being extra tough on him. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a great read, I just didn’t feel overwhelmed with fervour and emotion as I have with his other masterpieces.” – Rachel

Published 2007
Jonathan Cape
166 pages

Mister Pip – Lloyd Jones



Children on war ravaged Bougainville listen to their make-do teacher read them the story of Great Expectations. But their obsession with Pip results in clashes with rebel soliders.

“A clever, enthralling, devastating book.” – Suzy

“I enjoy books set in real life conflicts, to be educated/shocked and entertained all at once.  Here Jones takes a little known conflict and into it inserts fabulous characters. The protagonist, Matilda, and the re-invented Pip are both fully developed characters who bring innocence and a harsh reality to the real-life conflict. I enjoyed not only the harsh differences but also the parallels between story telling and war. A touching and haunting book with snippets I had to read from behind my hands. An important book; one not to be forgotten.” – Rachel

Published 2006
John Murray
256 pages