Our book for July, Amongst Women by John McGahern, came 97th in an article of the 100 best novels by The Guardian’s Robert McCrum in July 2015. He is not a widely-known author but much loved and admired by contemporary Irish writers such as Colm Toibin who described him as “the Irish novelist everyone should read”. The title is derived from the words of the Hail Mary in the Catholic rosary and flags the dominant themes of the book. The characters of this family drama are complex and the narrative describes what is probably a fairly typical dynamic with a domineering father Moran, who maintains power and control over his wife, daughters and younger son with continued psychological and if not physical abuse. The three daughters particularly live in constant fear of their father and this generates a growing sense of menace with detailed and repetitive descriptions of mundane household and farm activities along side the monitoring of Moran’s moods. Much of the back story is unexplained and we tended to keep reading in hope of finding out what happened to Moran’s first wife and what precipitated the eldest son Luke’s estrangement.
This book split our group quite evenly down the middle. About half of us though it was exquisite; a masterful portrayal of interdependence with menace and fear permeating the narrative, well drawn characters and very credible situation.The other half found it flat, lacking in depth, repetitive and boring with a Famous Five-like, plodding style and about as much depth as a Woman’s Day article. It certainly elicited a strong emotional reaction from all of us – we hated Moran, a bully who was bitter and twisted, “such an arsehole”. This polarised reaction made for a very lively and fascinating discussion as we tried to identify what it was about the book that worked or didn’t work for each of us and why. Thank you for reading the book and giving it your consideration.
Read a positive review here and a negative one here.
Ratings: Alexa 2.5 , Claudia 3 , Denise 3.5 , Gail 4 , Janet 2.5 , Judith 4 , Kim 4 ,Margie 2.5 , Nic 3.5, Penny 4 and Viv 3.
Next month we get together on the 14/08/17 at 6:30pm at Preece House, 50 Nerang St Bischof Pioneer Park, Nerang (next to 54 Nerang St. shops) to discussthe first volume of The Transylsvanian Trilogy: They Were Counted by Miklós Bánffy. This continues our year of European novels in translation. Hope to see you there and Happy Reading!
We are a group that gets together once a month to discuss good books. Each of us gets to choose a book on a rotational basis, preferably one outside our personal comfort zone – we try to keep the trash to ourselves. After the discussion, we comment on other books we read that month. Most of the time we remain friends after the meeting.
We meet at the 1948 heritage Preece House, 50 Nerang St Bischof Pioneer Park, Nerang (next to 54 Nerang St. shops) on the second Monday of every month from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. excluding Public Holidays. A small contribution is required towards the rent of the room, but not if you are a first timer. The amount depends on the number of people attending.
One book title is chosen each month and we all read that book. There is a ‘host’ who introduces and co-ordinates the discussion. The role of host is rotated around the group so that each member has the opportunity to nominate their book (it could also be an author, theme or genre). The host also acts as chairperson for that meeting.
Although we are not a social club (we are readers), we occasionally attend literary events, relevant movies or plays here at the Gold Coast, Brisbane or Byron Bay. We conform to basic meeting practices and everyone has an equal opportunity to express their opinion. Everyone’s interpretation is valid, as long as it’s expressed respectfully.
We welcome any new members who share our aims and are happy to contribute to our group. Newcomers are not required to have read the book to attend the first meeting and no contribution is required from them.
Feel free to have a look at our Booklist and Newsletters in the sidebar. If you are reading this blog in a mobile device, switch to desktop view.
We meet from 6:30 to 8:30 PM on the 2nd Monday of every month at the heritage listed PreeceC HOUSE located on Bischoff Park
, Nerang Street (next corner White St), Nerang next door to shops at 54 Nerang Street. Please contact us for info on meetings that fall on Public Holidays.
For more information use the contact form.