Book Club

The group has a Book Club which is managed by the BCP Library Service. We read the supplied book, chat about it and answer our set list of questions and then star rate the book based on our discussions. As a group we thought we would share our experience with members. Unfortunately, we can only accommodate 10 members in the group, as the library can only supply 10 books.

January 2020

Hard Times - Charles Dickens Group Rating ****

Published in 1854, it is the only one of Dickens' novels based in an industrial town in the North of England. It is set in the fictional town of Coketown and Thomas Gradgrind, a successful businessman,  raises his children in a stifling and arid atmosphere of grim practicality. Without moral compass to guide them, the children sink into lives of desperation and despair. The novel is a fantastic tapestry of Victorian life, brimming with detail and characterization. It was a hard read but well worth the effort.

December 2019

The Secret Life of Bletchley Park - Sinclair McKay   Group rating ***

Some of us found this a difficult read however, a fascinating and interesting factual book.  Bletchley Park was where one of the war's most famous and crucial achievements was made: the cracking of Germany's Enigma code in which its most important military communications were couched. This country house was home to Britain's most brilliant mathematical brains, like Alan Turing, and the scene of immense advances in technology— indeed, the birth of modern computing. The military codes deciphered there were instrumental in turning both the Battle of the Atlantic and the war in North Africa. But, though plenty has been written about the scientists and the codebreaking, fictional and non-fiction— from Robert Harris and Ian McEwan to Andrew Hodges' biography of Turing— what of the thousands of men and women who lived and worked there during the war? The first history for the general reader of life at Bletchley Park, this is also an amazing compendium of memories from people now in their eighties of skating on the frozen lake in the grounds (a depressed Angus Wilson, the novelist, once threw himself in), of a youthful Roy Jenkins— useless at codebreaking, of the high jinks at nearby accommodation hostels, and of the implacable secrecy that meant girlfriend and boyfriend working in adjacent huts knew nothing about each other's work.

November 2019

Land of Marvels - Barry Unsworth  Group Rating ***

In Land of Marvels, a thriller set in 1914, Unsworth brings to life the schemes and double-dealings of Western nations grappling for a foothold in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire.

Somerville, a British archaeologist, is excavating a long-buried Assyrian palace. The site lies directly in the path of a new railroad to Baghdad, and he watches nervously as the construction progresses, threatening to destroy his discovery. The expedition party includes Somerville’s beautiful, bored wife, Edith; Patricia, a smart young graduate student; and Jehar, an Arab man-of-all-duties whose subservient manner belies his intelligence and ambitions. Posing as an archaeologist, an American geologist from an oil company arrives one day and insinuates himself into the group. But he’s not the only one working undercover to stake a claim on Iraq’s rich oil fields.

September 2019

Death in St Jame's Park - Susanna Gregory. Group Rating **

Five years after Charles II's triumphant return to London there is growing mistrust of his extravagant court and of corruption among his officials - and when a cart laden with gunpowder explodes outside the General Letter Office, it is immediately clear that such an act is more than an expression of outrage at the inefficiency of the postal service. As intelligencer to the Lord Chamberlain, Thomas Chaloner cannot understand why a man of known incompetence is put in charge of investigating the attack while he is diverted to make enquiries about the poisoning of birds in the King's aviary in St James's Park. He becomes even more suspicious of his employer's motives when he discovers that the witnesses he needs to interview have close links to the business conducted in the General Letter Office, activities more firmly centred on intercepting people's mail than delivering it.