Book reviews 2019

The group continues to enjoy a variety of genres of literature with well attended meetings involving interesting discussions. These are our latest 3 book reviews which might give readers food for thought.

anna hope book

This is a beautifully crafted piece of writing, creating a moving and sensitive story about the aftermath of World War 2. The use of the present tense enables the reader to be in the same time scale as the characters and live the emotions and events with them.The dictionary definitions of the title word at the start are extremely clever and appropriate as all of them applied to this heartrending story.

The three women at the centre of the story reveal just how badly the women, who were left behind, suffered from the loss of their fathers, sons, husbands or brothers. The reader also sees, through their eyes, the lost and broken souls of many of the returning soldiers. The quality of the writing conjures the grief and sadness of the main characters.You could feel their pain.

The story of the burial of the unknown warrior is cleverly interwoven into the story, the italics revealing immediately that the reader is about to become a spectator in the proceedings. There is a positive ending allows all three women to move on in order to face a new future. However, there is also a stark warning given that the war to end all wars was a lie. This book makes for an excellent read and was enjoyed by all.

david m barnett book

This book created a marmite moment, meaning it was either loved or hated. If you are not a fan of science fiction or in this case, science fantasy, then ‘Calling Major Tom’ would not be for you. The plot revolved around the impossible story of Tom Major embarking on a one way voyage to Mars followed by his ludicrous communications and subsequent relationship with the dysfunctional Ormerod family, on earth. In the course of the book we learn a lot about Tom’s sad early years and his reasons for wanting to opt out of life on this planet.

All of us found the beginning very confusing and at that point several readers gave up. However, those who persevered and enjoyed the story found it quirky, sad, humorous and very different. Although, essentially a fantasy, the tale touched on important topics such as death, divorce, dementia, racism, bullying, scammers and getting on with people. Those who were not so impressed found it difficult to relate to the stereotypical characters and, at times, farcical plot.

This book would make a good read for teenagers and those who enjoy flights of fantasy. There were some genuine funny moments but probably not the ‘laugh out loud, feel good comedy’ that on line reviews suggest. It certainly made for an interesting and lively meeting which goes to prove that reading outside your comfort zone can be a very worthwhile exercise.

anita diamant book

This story maps the life of Dinah, the barely mentioned daughter of Jacob and Leah, from the book of Genesis in The Bible. It is a fictional tale interwoven with some of the well documented biblical stories from that time. Initially it revolves around the lives of the four wives of Jacob, telling of their daily routine, their individual skills and their time spent together resting in the Red Tent during menstruation.

Three members of our group really enjoyed it, relishing its historical references that gave insight into the times. The rest of us were less enthusiastic, particularly with the first half of the story which dragged and bordered on tedious at times, especially the episodes in the Red Tent. Thankfully, the story became more interesting in the second half, which involved great love, loss and immense cruelty that divided Dinah from her family for ever.

This book highlighted the strength, determination, skills and kindness of the women of the time who bound their family together despite the trials they faced. They were connected to the earth and the rhythm of life that gave them purpose and reason to carry on. This was in contrast to some of the men, who displayed great arrogance, inflexibility and cruelty. They depended on the women but never acknowledged it.
‘The Red Tent’ should have been a really good book which was spoiled at times by over attention to detail and lack of purpose. In my opinion, the book stalled too often to make it a truly good read.