January 31, 2007


This blog is pretty dead having now moved over to WordPress - all entries before this one have been exported and moved over into the new blog which can be found here

November 19, 2006

November Meeting

We had two books to discuss this month:
Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code - discussed endlessly on the web(!) good yarn, bits of implausibility and weak on geography and historical detail.
As a classic read we had Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier) where there was a bit of a split in views, incredible detail but a little implausible (bit like Dan Brown!). I didn't read the book - couldn't get hold of one from the library and there was a general shortage of time but I did watch the movie - though many years ago I did see the Wilfred Josephs' opera which was - I think - commissioned by Opera North - I see Josephs produced the 'I Claudius' music - for some reason I thought it was Malcolm Arnold. On Rebecca I thought of the Princess Diana parallel which seemed - to me - strong.

October 12, 2006

Summer Reading

Maybe I ought to have a link back here to my blogger entry about my summer reading

October 10, 2006

The Idea of Perfection

Well the only person who enjoyed Kate Grenville's The idea of Perfection couldn't make the meeting. I managed the first 50(?) pages or so was rather too busy and was put off by the seemingly random italicisation.

October 03, 2006

Catching up

And shamlessly pinched from my unbroken blog - though this one is now unbroken too! - here's all the titles that got missed!

  • Death and the Penguin (Sept)
  • Talking Heads II (Aug)
  • Andrea Ashworth Once in a house on Fire - and with the classic read Of Mice and Men (Jul)
  • William Trevor's After Rain(Jun)

comments to follow!

That Summer

This month's (well May 2006!) book that we'll be discussing on Monday (at Monica's) was Andrew Greig's That Summer, it seemed to leave me pretty unmoved - maybe an early life surfeit of Biggles is responsible - must revisit the book again briefly this weekend. Internet sites seem to rave over it though.. and he's a climber/poet..

Fatal Remedies

March/April's book was Donna Leon's Fatal Remedies a detective story based in Venice one of her Guido Brunetti series. I thought it had pretty scenery and an interesting sub-plot but when you removed that the main story was not too gripping. Might try another one sometime..

We also that month took on a classic read - Jane Austen's Persuasion.

(couldn't export from the old broken bats blog so creating a few entries as new)

March 14, 2006


Last month's book was William Boyd's Armadillo - a comedy about a loss adjuster(!) Mixed views on this - I felt it was funny bu weak - only the main character felt like a real person - everyone else was a foil for Milo/Lorimer to bouce off. Others got nowhere with it - at least I finished it! Chris/Sylvia thought it was a wonderful exploration of someone finding himself.'s review is here Critical concensus was hard to find!

What is wrong? Well, chiefly, the plotting, the characters and the writing
The Economist

Discussion about Boyd and his books.
Wikipedia article on the author.

I'll blog something about the next book when I remember what it is! - but Venice is about to rear its ugly head again!!

February 05, 2006

Oh dear

and I thought the last interval between postings was bad (October!!)! Since then we've had The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon and The Siege by Helen Dunmore a wonderful still book. Tomorrow we go to discuss Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring.
I've also compiled a fullish list of all the books we've read so far.

October 06, 2005

Bad Blood

Gosh this has got a bit behind....we've done Lorna Sage's Bad Blood. Amazon write up is here

September 05, 2005

Reading Week?

Took the opportunity of the week's holiday in Llandudno to get some reading done! List looks as follows:

  • Completed Franzen's The Corrections - all 650 pages of it - very mixed views of this one, it felt like various stories bolted together and didn't think it was worth it in the end. Interesting to hear other views at the reading group tonight!
  • Stephen Bates - A Church at War - superb and quite enlightening - a retelling of the Anglican churches recent conflicts over (homo)sexuality.
  • Mary Renault's - Fire from Heaven - a falling apart copy from the recent library sale with 10 pages missing, enjoyed it greatly and will probably read the rest of the trilogy - assuming the library hasn't sold them off!
  • Bridget O'Connor - tell her you love her - book of short stories - not too keen on this, enjoyed the first - Lenka's Wardrobe - but though it then went downhill!

Will expand on some of these and add some links!

August 25, 2005

Dickens and Bird Flu

Sent by Geoff Coupe to Bouphonia's blog on the parallels between Bleak House and the bird flu gradually moving West - Dickens' original title for Bleak House was apparently West Wind.

August 20, 2005

The Corrections

The BATS book this month is Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. There's some good material on Farnzen's website including a reading guide. I nearly gave up on the book around page 120 but once it got onto Gary and Caroline, still unsure whether it lives up to the hype.

The Magician's Assistant

Had to order this through the library but having enjoyed Patchett's Bel Canto, I wanted to try something else. Again a very interesting novel as two groups of people reach forwards and backwards through the deceased magicians life - strongly recommended!

July 31, 2005


I suppose I ought to record that the Bulwer-Lytton competition has just announced its annual results, there is a nice summary by Apostrophe, I rather like his favourite too! But I also liked:

I peeled my body off the alcohol-soaked carpet, spat the cigarette butts out of my mouth, licked my lips with a tongue that felt and tasted like a rat that had been lightly sauteed in lighter fluid, and after struggling to what a quick visual inspection confirmed were apparently my feet, decided that the next time a seven- foot-tall Lebanese fisherman called Bottomless Mary challenged me to an ouzo-drinking contest I wouldn't wear suede shoes.

July 15, 2005

Cold Mountain

Cold mountain is the new book, book group guide, I've neither read it nor seen the film..

June 17, 2005

Now you see me

The new book is Lesley Glaister's Now You See Me. There is a reading guide

April 25, 2005

finishing off

Now completed Astonishing Splashes of Colour - very powerful and interesting book. Also read Alan Garner's Thursbitch - Guardian Review, I felt it was a bit similar to Red Shift, using many of the same devices. But it is very powerful and having lived at the wilder end of Bollington and walked over the Salterford area many times when growing up it seeemed rather immediate.
Also completed Robert Morgan's Twentieth Century Music - acquired in Knutsford's Oxfam shop - written 1990 and weak from the 1980's on but a useful survey with good reference material though I tend to agree with this posting deploring the quality of the printing of the music examples.

April 13, 2005

Astonishing Splashes of Colour

Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall. Looks interesting - from the first 20 pages though I think there's more than a hint of a Dog in the Night Time about it, but maybe that's something to do with the quirky style. Observer review and Open2net where it appears to be the book for April

March 18, 2005

Book for March

.. is Elizabeth Jane Howard's Falling - amazon review says

A stunning example of the use of an unreliable narrator
Interesting view of the background is here

I've not started it yet - I'm still finishing off David Park's Oranges from Spain a wonderful set of short stories about growing in in Northern Ireland

February 22, 2005

More on Bel Canto

Tracked down an analysis of the novel in sparknotes which refers to the operatic links

Opera suffuses Bel Canto, the title of which comes from opera and means “beautiful song.” Roxanne Coss sings, Tetsuya Kato accompanies her, and a star is born in the person of Cesar, who has an angelic voice. Opera connects the characters in the novel, giving them a source of joy during their captivity. The novel borrows its structure from operas, which typically feature beautiful scenes and songs and end in tragedy. Like operas, Bel Canto is about an idyllic world eventually shattered by death.
also mentions Rusalka references - as I don't know the work I hadn't picked up on this one in my suggestions

February 19, 2005

The Underground Man

Mick Jackson's The Undergound Man is the new BATS book. Looks like a curious story, I'm two-timing it with Philip Dick's The Man in the High Castle - conincidentally plumbing heights and depths! The Undergound Man seems to get mixed web reviews and here's another book about Welbeck Abbey - the location of the book's events.

February 09, 2005

pre-BATS reading

Having finished Bel Canto rather early, I had space - for a change - for a little additional reading. Now finished Deborah Cadbury's Dinosaur Hunters interesting tale of the rivalry of Gideon Mantell and Richard Owen over the discovery and evolution of dinosaurs. Covers the theological controvesy well though rather too much of the Bible or evolution - maybe that was how it was seen then - but not now!

Currently racing though Hollinghurst's Line of Beauty - Review from the Independent or the Guardian

Ogee ogee ogee, oi oi oi

Eugh the eighties - though there's some wonderful passages about music in it, I don't know Henry James' work well but the writing about the experience of listening to music is rewarding - obvious other example is Forster's Howards End. I'll pass over the drugs and sex!