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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Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

About the book

Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi’s living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. In this extraordinary memoir, their stories become intertwined with the ones they are reading.

Reviewed by Goodworth Clatford WI Reading Group:

Fascinating. Very condensed and slow reading because there was so much to take in. A vivid picture of life in Tehran and subjugation of women.

Star rating: ***

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

About the book

Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.

Reviewed by Jane and Nick’s Fleet Library Reading Group:

Having read it for the 1st time 30 years ago, I enjoyed it much more upon this 2nd reading – others did not! Yes, it is melodramatic dark and gloomy at times and some thought repetitive, but I still consider it a worthy classic. This lead to a discussion of what qualifies as a classic! My point is for its genre, this title is a good example. Someone felt it was far less than Jane Eyre. Wuthering Heights provoked lively and ‘heartfelt’ discussion. Alternative title according to one of our readers is ‘Withering Freights’!

Star rating: ***

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