Stoner by John Williams

About the book

William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. A seminar on English literature changes his life, and he never returns to work on his father’s farm. Stoner becomes a teacher. He marries the wrong woman. His life is quiet, and after his death his colleagues remember him rarely. Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value. Stoner tells of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history, and reclaims the significance of an individual life. A reading experience like no other, itself a paean to the power of literature, it is a novel to be savoured.

 

Reviewed by Hill Head Readers

An excellent book. Well written with characters that were brilliantly drawn. We felt Stoner’s ‘biography’ was very realistic and the group enjoyed the ‘ups and downs’ of his academic career”

star rating ****

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The Return by Victoria Hislop

About the book

An atmospheric, vibrant and moving tale of pain and passion at the heart of war-torn Spain, from Victoria Hislop, the million-copy bestselling author of THE ISLAND.

Beneath the majestic towers of the Alhambra, Granada’s cobbled streets resonate with music and secrets. Sonia Cameron knows nothing of the city’s shocking past; she is here to dance. But in a quiet café, a chance conversation and an intriguing collection of old photographs draw her into the extraordinary tale of Spain’s devastating civil war.

Seventy years earlier, the café is home to the close-knit Ramírez family. In 1936, an army coup led by Franco shatters the country’s fragile peace, and in the heart of Granada the family witnesses the worst atrocities of conflict. Divided by politics and tragedy, everyone must take a side, fighting a personal battle as Spain rips itself apart.

 

Reviewed by Valleydene

“Started a bit slow but once into the story of the Ramirez family it was quite an emotional journey. Hadn’t known anything about the Spanish Civil War and that it was so recent which made it all the more poignant

star rating *** ½

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The People's Act of Love by James Meek

About the book

1919, Siberia . . .
Deep in the unforgiving landscape a town lies under military rule, awaiting the remorseless assault of Bolsheviks along the Trans-Siberian railway. One night a stranger, Samarin, appears from the woods with a tale of escape from an Arctic prison, insisting a cannibal is on his trail. Only Anna, a beautiful young widow, trusts his story. When a local shaman is found dead suspicion and terror engulf the isolated community, which harbours a secret of its own . . .

Reviewed by  CC Readers Reading Group:

Good writing and descriptions. Some scenes and dialogue contrived. Opened up a little-known historical period. Vivid evocation of Siberia, the deep cold, fear, turmoil, the fragility of life. Not an easy read and some found it depressing. Perplexing. A re-read would be illuminating.

Star rating: ***

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