Book Club - Reading Recommendations

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Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.      Recommended by Helen Heath

A true story of India told by an ecaped Australian prisoner. Many descriptions of city slums will be familiar, but this reformed armed robber and heroin addict managed to make a change to his own life, resulting in signicant changes for the people he began to help.

Harem by Colin Falconer.          Recommended by Helen Heath

A riveting interweaving of fact and fiction, set in the time of Suleyman the magnicent, which illustrates different aspects of life for a variety of the inhabitants of Stamboul.

The Other Side of Israel by Susan Nathan.        Recommended by Helen Heath

An account of the author's arrival in Israel as a British Jew, and her subsequent decisions about where and how she would live.

The Forgotten Sister by Jennifer Paynter.           Recommended by Fiona

Pride and Prejudice retold from the viewpoint of Elizabeth Bennet’s younger sister, Mary, the ‘odd one out’ of the Bennet family

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.          Recommended by Fiona

A novel about a hostage situation with an interesting insight into the unusual characters of the hostages and their captors (one of the books donated to the Book Club Library)

All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.          Recommended by Fiona

A Discovery of Witches;  Shadow of Night;  The Book of Life

Unexpectedly, this was a good, long read about an historian who is a ‘reluctant’ witch, whose search for a manuscript leads her to fall in love with a vampire and they embark on a journey through time to understand her legacy.

The Sisters’ Brothers by Patrick deWitt.        Recommended by Fiona

A raw insight into the Wild West, 'The Sisters Brothers' is a novel about two brothers - Eli and Charlie Sisters - hired gunmen, who are making their way to California during the Gold Rush of the 1850s, at the behest of the mysterious 'Commodore'. En route, and often through discussions between the two very different brothers, a change starts to come over Eli as he starts to question the 'business' that they are in . . .

The Other Sister by S T Underdahl.

Josey Muller's regular life--studying with her best friends, planning for the Hollidazzle dance, and gossiping about hot guys--is shaken like a snow globe when her parents drop a bombshell: she has a sister! Pressured to give up the baby they conceived in high school, her parents are overjoyed to reunite with Audrey. Even Josey's brothers are cool with it. No longer the only daughter and the "smart one" in the family, Josey struggles to accept her infuriatingly friendly, witty, and talented older sister. But feelings of betrayal and jealousy threaten to boil over when she learns that Audrey is on her way to becoming a psychologist, Josey's life goal. Just when she's given up on ever feeling like a sister to this stranger, a new side of Audrey is revealed . . . and their real-life nature versus nurture experiment offers a fresh start for them both.

Two Bothers by Ben Elton.

Synopsis: Berlin 1920 Two babies are born. Two brothers. United and indivisible, sharing everything. Twins in all but blood.

As Germany marches into its Nazi Armageddon, the ties of family, friendship and love are tested to the very limits of endurance. And the brothers are faced with an unimaginable choice....Which one of them will survive?

Two Brothers is a deeply moving, thought provoking look at life for a Jewish family in inter-war Germany. What makes this particular family different is that one of their twin boys has been adopted - and actually isn't Jewish. When the Nazis start to divide the country into 'true' Germans and 'others', the family find themselves faced with a terrible dilemma - which of their boys should be saved? Ben Elton's most personal novel to date,Two Brothers transports the reader to the time of history's darkest hour. It's a real page-turner, more serious than one would have expected from Ben Elton but not without its moments of bleak humour - and, in case you wondered, it's not a little bit of political satire.

Brian Gullivers Travels by Bill Dare.

Brian Gulliver's Travels is a satirica lcomedy series and also a novel created and written by Bill Dare, a modern pastiche of the Jonathan Swift nove Gulliver's Travels. The series revolves around the character Brian Gulliver, played by Neil Pearson. Gulliver is a travel documentary presenter who at the beginning of series is revealed to have been missing for six years, claiming to have travelled to the previously undiscovered continent of Clafrenia. His stories lead him to being put in a psychiatric hospital where they believe that he is suffering some sort of delusion.
In each episode he is visited by his daughter Rachel (Mariah Gale), who writes about the countries that he claims to have visited.

The novel, inspired by some stories in the radio series, begins:

"At half past ten, nine days after my 21st birthday, I made my way to a psychiatric hospital in Highgate, North London, to meet my father, who had been missing for six years. In the two weeks since his reappearance, he had sent numerous emails in which he described “extraordinary worlds, and curious beings".”

Sand in the Wind by Robert Roth.

A first novel relating the experiences of a Marine Corps nile squad in Vietnam beginning with a group which considers itself kind of an elite -- all the men went to college. Presumably this raises the articulation level a few notches but it has no effect at all on the fatality factor. There is Chalice who is in the war to write a book; Lieut. Kramer, who thought it might be one way to commit suicide; Forsythe, drug dropout, former Berkeley protester, whose presence accounts for another point of view; and assorted "lifers" -- officers and enlisted men, who have made their own pact with the Marine Corps. But the book has more to do with incidents than with character: the Parris Island indoctrination -- "It's not the greatest war but it's the only one we've got"; the tortuous patrols in search of Vietcong, the pot parties, atrocities (cannibalism), the day by day actualities of killing or of being killed. Roth's treatment reads as if he had kept a diary of every soggy footstep he took through the rice paddies. And the bush. And of every cursed benediction bestowed upon a C-ration. If you can accept that then the book has a certain numbing kind of fascination.

Novels by Cimananda Ngozi Adichie.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerianwriter.She has been called "the most prominent" of a "procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [that] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature.

Her story "That Harmattan Morning" was selected as joint winner of the BBCShort Story Awards in 2003, and she won the O. Henry prize  for "The American Embassy". She also won the David T. Wong International Short Story Prize 2002/2003 (PEN Center Award) and a 2007 Beyond Margins Award for her short story "Half of a Yellow Sun".

Her first novel, 'Purple Hibiscus' (2003), received wide critical acclaim; it was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction (2004) and was awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book (2005).

Her second novel, 'Half of a Yellow Sun', named after the flag of the short-lived nation of Biafra, is set before and during the Biafran War. It was awarded the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Half of a Yellow Sun has been adapted into a film of the same title directed by Biyi Bandele, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton released in 2014.

Her third book, The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), is a collection of short stories. In 2010 she was listed among the authors of  The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" Fiction Issue. Adichie's story, "Ceiling", was included in the 2011 edition of  The Best American Short Stories. In 2013 she published her third novel, Americanah which was selected by the New York Times as one of The 10 Best Books of 2013. In April 2014 she was named as one of 39 writers aged under 40 in the Hay Festival and Rainbow Book Club project celebrating Port Harcourt UNESCO World Book Capital 2014.

After the Fall by Charity Norman

A family move to New Zealand where the child, Finn, has a fatal fall. Only his mother knows the truth and the family's dream becomes a nightmare.

Meander by Jeremy Seal

Author Jeremy Seal's journey along Meander River from East to West.

The American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

A fictionalised account loosely based on the life of Laura Bush.

The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman

Novel where one person's justice is another person's loss – a moral choice.

The Girl who saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Johansson

The Haj by Leon Uris

The Villa Triste by Lucretia Gribble

The Outcast by Sadie Jones