The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

About the book

Summer 1924
On the eve of a glittering society party, by the lake of a grand English country house, a young poet takes his life. The only witnesses, sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford, will never speak to each other again.
Winter 1999
Grace Bradley, ninety-eight, one-time housemaid of Riverton Manor, is visited by a young director making a film about the poet’s suicide. Ghosts awaken and old memories – long consigned to the dark reaches of Grace’s mind – begin to sneak back through the cracks. A shocking secret threatens to emerge, something history has forgotten but Grace never could.

Reviewed by White Lion, Yateley Reading Group:

Immensely readable page turner – gripping. Really good unexpected ending.

Star rating: ***

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Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

About the book

‘Here we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join our family, and for our family we are prepared to do anything – even die’ – Haji Ali, Korphe Village Chief, Karakoram mountains, Pakistan. In 1993, after a terrifying and disastrous attempt to climb K2, a mountaineer called Greg Mortenson drifted, cold and dehydrated, into an impoverished Pakistan village in the Karakoram Mountains. Moved by the inhabitants’ kindness, he promised to return and build a school. “Three Cups of Tea” is the story of that promise and its extraordinary outcome. Over the next decade Mortenson built not just one but fifty-five schools – especially for girls – in remote villages across the forbidding and breathtaking landscape of Pakistan and Afghanistan, just as the Taliban rose to power. His story is at once a riveting adventure and a testament to the power of the humanitarian spirit.

Reviewed by Ringwood Reading Group:

Really divided the group

Star rating: **+

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Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

About the book

Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.

Reviewed by Littleton Book Club:

This is an absorbing book, full of life and colour and fascinating characters; beautifully written, a real eye-opener into black American culture evoking sympathy and admiration for its people.

Rating: ***

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Beloved by Toni Morrison

About the book

Terrible, unspeakable things happened to Sethe at Sweet Home, the farm where she lived as a slave for so many years until she escaped to Ohio. Her new life is full of hope but eighteen years later she is still not free. Sethe’s new home is not only haunted by the memories of her past but also by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

Reviewed by Ace of spades Reading group:

Remarkably well written. Thought provoking and challenging read. Could be used as a study book as different views can be discussed.

Star rating: ***

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And When Did You Last See Your Father by Blake Morrison

About the book

First published in 1993, Blake Morrison’s And When Did You Last See Your Father? is an extraordinary portrait of family life, father-son relationships and bereavement. It became a best-seller and inspired a whole genre of confessional memoirs.

Reviewed by Titchfield Book Club:

A good read. A difficult subject dealt with in a compassionate and often humorous way.

Star rating: ***

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Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall

About the book

When an innocent trip to see the play Peter Pan gives Kitty’s four brothers an excuse to deny her access to her much-loved nieces, she finds herself in a skewed, vividly colored world where children become emblems of hope, longing, and grief. Still reeling from the loss of her own child that never was, Kitty is suddenly made shockingly aware of the real reason for her pervasive sense of non-existence. Suddenly, her family’s oddness, the secrets of her mother’s life and death, and the disappearance of her sister come into a startling new focus—one that leaves Kitty struggling to find own identity.

Reviewed by Eastleigh Library Wednesday Group:

Most enjoyed the book although it was difficult to get inside the character, in particular with her illness. Easy read and gripping.

Star rating: ***

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Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

Winchester Children's Book Festival Logo

About the book

“They’ve gone now, and I’m alone at last. I have the whole night ahead of me, and I won’t waste a single moment of it . . . I want tonight to be long, as long as my life . . .” For young Private Peaceful, looking back over his childhood while he is on night watch in the battlefields of the First World War, his memories are full of family life deep in the countryside: his mother, Charlie, Big Joe, and Molly — the love of his life. Too young to be enlisted, Thomas has followed his brother to war and now, every moment he spends thinking about his life, means another moment closer to danger.

Reviewed by Reading EnthusiastsReading Group:

The book was beautifully written and very descriptive. However, some characters divided our group – especially Charlie. The story was very moving and the ending even moved some of our book club to tears.

Star rating: ***

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Do Not Pass Go by Tim Moore

About the book

In Do Not Pass Go Tim Moore, belying his reputation as a player who always paid that £10 fine rather than take a Chance, fearlessly tackles the real thing and along the way tells the story of a game and the city that frames it. Sampling the rags and the riches he stays in a hotel in Mayfair and one in the Old Kent Road, enjoys quality time with Dr Crippen in Pentonville Prison and even winds up at the wrong end of the Water Works pipe. And, solving all the mysteries you’ll have pondered whilst languishing in jail and many other you certainly wouldn’t, Tim Moore reveals how Pall Mall got its name, which three addresses you won’t find in your A-Z and why the sorry cul-de-sac that is Vine Street has a special place in the heart of Britain’s most successful Monopoly champion.
The stirring travelogue of one man’s erratic progress around those 28 streets, stations and utilities, Do Not Pass Go is also an epic and lovingly researched history of London’s wayward progress in the 66 years since the launch of the world’s most popular board game.

Reviewed by  Hedge End WI Reading Group:

Boring and tedious were mentioned alongside interesting, amusing and full of snippets of history. The history and information were on ‘overkill’. The book should be read at leisure, not as a monthly turn round. Several considered getting it for reference.

Star rating: **

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A gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

About the book

With America quietly gearing up for war in the Middle East, twenty-year-old Tassie Keltjin, a ‘half-Jewish’ farmer’s daughter from the plains of the Midwest, has come to university – escaping her provincial home to encounter the complex world of culture and politics.
When she takes a job as a part-time nanny to a couple who seem at once mysterious and glamorous, Tassie is drawn into the life of their newly-adopted child and increasingly complicated household. As her past becomes increasingly alien to her – her parents seem older when she visits; her disillusioned brother ever more fixed on joining the military – Tassie finds herself becoming a stranger to herself. As the year unfolds, love leads her to new and formative experiences – but it is then that the past and the future burst forth in dramatic and shocking ways.
Refracted through the eyes of this memorable narrator, A Gate at the Stairs is a lyrical, beguiling and wise novel of our times.

Reviewed by Damzals Reading Group:

Some extreme scenes. Wide appeal. Well written, good use of language.

Star rating: ***

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Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard

About the book

12-year-old Veronica Swan’s idyllic life in a close-knit Mormon community is shattered when her two younger sisters are brutally murdered. Although her parents find the strength to forgive the deranged killer, Scott Early, Veronica cannot do the same. Years later, she sets out alone to avenge her sisters’ deaths, dropping her identity and severing ties in the process. As she closes in on Early, Veronica will discover the true meaning of sin and compassion, before she makes a decision that will change her and her family’s lives forever.

Reviewed by Abbotts Ann WI Reading Group:

Probably the best read in several years. Plot – well organised, characters – most interesting and believable. Storyline – well written and it kept the readers intrigued to the very last page! Will definitely read more of this authors novels.

Star rating: ****

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