Category Archives: book club

July’s meeting

Balloons! Unicorns! Rainbows! Heralds of singing angels etc!

Yes, for the first time this summer, book club was actually able to take advantage of the wonderful balcony at Le Lacustre and sit outside for this month’s meeting. Of course, the beautiful weather combined with the good food and idyllic view (and great company of course) meant that rather more rose that normal was consumed. No bad thing.

This month we welcomed both Jenny and Valentine to the group (memo to self: still much come up with nicknames to distinguish Valentine and Valentina). The theme this month was “food” and so, thanks to our unusual form of democracy, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe by Fannie Flagg was chosen.

This book was a bit like being an expat in Switzerland. You had those people who loved it. You had those who hated it. You had those who hated it to start with and then suddenly realised that they loved it. In the end, the book received a very respectable 6.5 on the Lausanne Book Club scale.

Comments from the group included:  “a book you need to read in the summer”; “Ninny was well named”; “Why did it take so long to get good?”; “This book was incapable of keeping my interest”; and “touching”.

As expected, some of the themes of this novel sparked interesting and heated debates amongst the book club group. Race, the role of women, lesbianism, the ways of the south, and, somewhat strangely, health and safety, were all bought up to varying degrees.

The narrative structure of the book divided the group – some liked the idea of connecting all the dots and weaving a story out of all the different threads. For others, that was just another annoying element of the book. Some people felt that the timeline became a character in its own right (and, some argued, one of the more interesting characters)

I fully admit my knowledge of the Deep South of the US is lacking. My only experience of it has been dancing the Texan Two-Step with an old boy in a dive bar in Austin. Not really rural south. It’s always interesting, therefore, when one of the group has a knowledge that others don’t (I like to flatter myself that I’m the group’s Kenya expert – as I bored people with when we read Out of Africa). It is still amazing to me at the separate world the deep south seems to be – even more so in the time of the novel’s writing. It was therefore insightful to hear about people’s perceptions on being gay, being promiscuous, women, conversing with African-Americans, the Klan, marriage, and food (of course!)

I think after a while, there were so many different and interesting conversations going on that I stopped taking notes and started listening instead. As is likely to become a tradition, here are some random phrases I wrote down for apparently no reason whatsoever.

  • Health and Safety (ed: I think this had to do with the untimely end of Frank. In no way connected to George’s delicious BBQ)
  • I’m my own Grandpa (ed: yeah, I’m not sure on this one. It was apparently hilarious at the time)
  • Dutchess of Kent? Fergie? (ed: answers on a postcard please)
  • Evelyn – middle aged whiney woman or woman who finds herself? (ed: one of my more useful notes)

 

Until August chums 🙂

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June’s meeting

We’re not doing very well at combining summer, bookclub, balconies, and wine. Yet again, bookclubbers were caught in the rain as we made our way to Le Lacustre for a noisy book club meeting. This month, our theme was “I’ve always meant to read”. In this case, The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger.

Once again, the group was split on this book. One side of the table loved the book – calling the story gripping, insightful and realistic. The other side weren’t too keen – for them the book was insufferable, boring, depressing. We had our first “no score” on the book (the book clubber in question erred between love and hate and so couldn’t come up with a number) but the average score of the book was 6.3 (on a par with The Reader)

Holden also divided the group. While some felt he showed compassion and maturity, others had very little sympathy for the character. Some felt that in order to truly understand what Holden was going through you’d have to be a teenage boy.

We started the discussion exploring Salinger’s writing style. We found it interesting that, although Holden continually berates his brother for “selling out” to Hollywood, the book is written in a style that would translate to screen incredibly well.

There was the sound of pennies dropping from one side of the table when it was established that Holden was writing the book from (spoiler alert) a mental institution. Suddenly a WHOLE LOAD of his character made more sense (which isn’t to say that those of the group who didn’t like Holden had any more sympathy for him – it just made his odd behaviour a little more understandable!)

Holden’s voice was very consistent the whole way through the book – was this because it was his authentic voice, or because he didn’t change or grow through the novel? We felt it was interesting that Holden seemed to be obsessed by small things. The ducks in the lake, the way the nuns held their basket etc. Why was this? (another spoiler: we don’t have the answers)

We had a little discussion about gender – specifically, did you have to be male to relate to the book (no) and what was up with the women in the book (some very interesting female characters whom Holden either admires or avoids)

Once more (as is becoming habit at book club recently) I then stopped taking notes. A couple of pithy phrases found their way into my notebook which I shall share with you for your delectation. Don’t get your hopes up

  • Violent book without violence (ed: deep!)
  • Chapters weren’t end of narrative (ed: profound statements galore)
  • Moments there are glimpses of madness  (ed: talking about the book or discussion here?)
  • Seemed simple but complex (ed: really?)
  • Too old to understand angst (ed: aren’t we all?)

Until next time!

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