After the hush-hush excitement of last month’s book, we returned to normality this month, and were pleased to welcome Steph into our midst too.
And so we finally got to Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life – officially our most postponed book ever, and I do know at least two of its fans were sorry not to be able to join us this month. It was a long book, and had defeated a few members, but amongst the rest of us it found considerable favour, although in true Book Group tradition we all seemed to like and dislike different things!
Many found it an engaging and easy read, enjoying the way it played with words and ideas, and its great imagery and details. The parts set in the Blitz were particularly highly praised – there were some disturbingly graphic images but many felt it painted an effective picture of the relentless horror of the nightly attacks. There was less agreement about the other parts set in WWII – for example, some felt the part where Ursula met Hitler was far-fetched, but others disagreed. There was also disagreement on whether the fragmentation of the story made it harder to care for the characters – it did for some, but not others.
(Spoiler alert) We were somewhat unsure about how aware Ursula became of her multiple lives and then, with that knowledge, started to manipulate them. Also, the opening section of the book has her attempting to kill Hitler, but a section at the end would seem to suggest she hadn’t, or at least hadn’t succeeded…
At the end of the meeting, I suggested that from September onwards we might like to start using a star system to rate our books, and that we could perhaps use the same system as Goodreads.com, because it gives each star rating an explanation:
1* = “didn’t like it”
2** = “it was OK”
3*** = “liked it”
4**** = “really liked it”
5***** = “it was amazing”
All voluntary of course, and thoughts are still very much more important, but it could be interesting, given the amount of talk provoked by just the idea of it!
We meet next on Wednesday 10th September, when we’ll be looking at Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. It seems a few of us read it when it was first out, so it will be interesting to see how, or if, our thoughts about it have changed, and to see how many have also read The Goldfinch, which I admit is very near the top of my summer to-read pile.
Happy summer reading everyone!