January’s book: We Were Liars by E Lockhart

This month’s theme was “books that made me think”. There was a clear winner.

We were liars by E Lockhart



E. Lockhart’s novel, We Were Liars, is clever, alluring, and wildly addictive. Each summer the wealthy, seemingly perfect, members of the Sinclair family gather on their private island. We Were Liars is the story of those annual reunions; in particular what happened during a summer that protagonist Cadence is unable to remember. Prejudice, greed, and shifting patriarchal favoritism among the three adult sisters contrasts with the camaraderie and worldview of the teenage cousins and their dear friend Gat. Lazy days of sticky lemonades on the roof and marathon Scrabble games give way to twisty suspense, true love, and good intentions gone horribly wrong. We Were Liars is a story that begs to be read in one sitting.

Other choices this month were:

  • Only Every Yours by Louise O’Neill
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman
  • The curious incident of the dog in the night time by Mark Haddon
  • We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver



November’s meeting

This month, I admitted defeat. Again. I didn’t finish the book. However, unlike the doomed Road to Oxiana or the massive Middlemarch, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Sadly, this month’s book, Berlin by William L Shirer was just too… long. Maybe if I’d had longer to read it, maybe if I’d stopped working for a month, maybe if I wasn’t watching documentaries about U.S. prisons, maybe then, I would have finished.

In order to prevent this month’s book club from being me just sitting there looking slightly confused, I handed over the questions to the ever-ready, super-smart, Kelly.

Although not that many people actually finished the book (well done to the four or so of you who did), generally, it was well received, scoring a respectable 6.5 (alongside Fried Green Tomatoes and the Reader).

In deference to me, everyone thought the book was insightful.

Oh, ok, yes, people did have their own views on the book too. Some people felt a little deceived – they felt that the book was less of a diary and more of a history. It wasn’t personal enough and lacked emotion. We discussed whether that was a result of Shirer’s journalistic background or the fact that his later books were historical chronicles (maybe he was getting some practice in?) Despite the lack of emotion, it was agreed that the book was more interesting than the dry history books we were made to read at school.

The group found the new point of view interesting. Unlike the holistic view you tend to get from textbooks, this was just one man’s view of the world.  Or, as it was memorably described by one member…

A keyhole into a room of drama

The group discussed Shirer’s relationship with his wife and whether his views were edited post-event. Did he really have those impressions of Germans and Hitler. Some members took a little offence at Shirer’s descriptions of the German people.

The role of Shirer as a foreign correspondent was examined. The group agreed that 20/20 hindsight makes things a lot easier. When in the moment, Shirer had no appreciation for the enormity of what was happening. He didn’t realise how destroyed France was. Concentration camps and the persecution of the Jews seemed more of a footnote. We wondered whether his blinkered view was due to his privileged position as a journalist or whether it was simply because it wasn’t happening to him.

There was quite a long conversation about perspective vs fact. It was proffered that truth is a matter of perspective whereas fact is a matter of numbers. Frankly, it got all a bit deep and philosophical at that point and I stopped taking notes.

Random thoughts and notes that came up during the discussions:

Until January, bookclubbers (unless you’re coming along to our Christmas party?)


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