Find out about some of the latest reads featured on The Book Club
Water for Elephants
When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits - the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth - a second-rate travelling circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. Jacob, a veterinary student who almost earned his degree, is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her. Water for Elephants is illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place. It tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds in a world in which even love is a luxury that few can afford.
Thursday 12th of January
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (original title in Swedish: Män som hatar kvinnor - "Men Who Hate Women") is an award-winning crime novel by Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson. It is the first book in the trilogy known as the "Millennium series".
It's about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden... and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.
It's about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet's disappearance... and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age—and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness to go with it-who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism—and an unexpected connection between themselves.
It's a contagiously exciting, stunningly intelligent novel and it has spawned two motion picture versions, the most recent starring Daniel Craig as Blomkvist.
Thursday 2nd of February
Leningrad in 1952 is a city recovering from war, where Andrei, a young hospital doctor and Anna, a nursery school teacher, are forging a life together. Summers at the dacha, preparations for the hospital ball, work and the care of sixteen year old Kolya fill their minds. They try hard to avoid coming to the attention of the authorities, but even so their private happiness is precarious. Stalin is still in power, and the Ministry for State Security has new targets in its sights. When Andrei has to treat the seriously ill child of a senior secret police officer, Volkov, he finds himself and his family caught in an impossible game of life and death - for in a land ruled by whispers and watchfulness, betrayal can come from those closest to you. A gripping and deeply moving portrait of life in post-war Soviet Russia, "The Betrayal" brilliantly shows the epic struggle of ordinary people to survive in a time of violence and terror.
Tuesday 28th Feb 2012
The Help by Kathryn Stockett is a marvellous book, the film adaptation of which is out now. Set in 1960s Jackson Mississippi, it is primarily the story of ‘the help’, black women working for the white families in a time when racism was still rife. Minding babies, cooking and cleaning is what they do from dawn till dusk. They are actually raising the white women’s children – and yet the white women don’t want ‘the help’ to use the same toilet. And then, Skeeter, a white girl all grown up and finished college, comes back to town. She becomes fascinated by the stories of the help – maids like Aibileen and her own former nanny, Constantine. She decides that their stories would make a wonderful book, an idea so dangerous at a time of lynchings and the Klan, that the whole notion must be kept secret...
Jacob was showing signs from the age of two that he was different. It took several years before the diagnosis of autism was made - and several more before Asperger's was confirmed. Light, sound, textures and colours were amongst the things that would set him off in a tantrum and whilst Emma's marriage disintegrated under the strain, her love for Jacob was all encompassing - even through the heartbreak of knowing he would never be able to return it. Trying to work around his extremes filled her days and nights... sidelining her second son, Theo, who grew up looking for his adrenaline rushes in anything but a routine way. Jacob's main obsession was with crime scene investigation methods. By his late teens he was immersed in the subject, and it wasn't long before he was first on the actual crime scene, irritating the police by trying to help with their cases. But with Asperger's sufferers, you get the brilliance together with inability to interact socially... no eye contact, no reading of emotion, conversational difficulties, a total honesty that can be brutal. So it was not surprising that 'guilty' was the first thought of the investigating cops, when Jacob was interviewed about the death of his social skills tutor. Nor was it surprising that in court his behaviour counted against him. The thing was, throughout the trial, his attorney and mother were trying so hard to protect him, they never gave him the chance to tell the story of the night Jess died... Perhaps they feared he would tell the truth.
Baby Frankie is born into an unusual family. Her mother is desperate to find someone to take care of her child and she doesn't have much time. Noel doesn't seem to be the most promising of fathers but despite everything, he could well be Frankie's best hope. As for Lisa, she is prepared to give up everything for the man she loves; surely he's going to love her back? And Moira is having none of it. She knows what's right, and has the power to change the course of Frankie's life... but Moira is hiding secrets of her own. MINDING FRANKIE is a story about unconventional families, relationships which aren't quite what they seem, and the child at the heart of everyone's lives...