The Colour Purple by Alice Walker

About the book

Set in the deep American South between the wars, THE COLOR PURPLE is the classic tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls ‘father’, she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker – a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.

Reviewed by Perspectives

A very readable book with many different themes all woven together. A book about relationships, hardship overcome and a happy ending”

star rating ****

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Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

About the book

George Orwell’s vivid memoir of his time living among the desperately poor and destitute, Down and Out in Paris and London is a moving tour of the underworld of society.

‘You have talked so often of going to the dogs – and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them.’

Written when Orwell was a struggling writer in his twenties, it documents his ‘first contact with poverty’. Here, he painstakingly documents a world of unrelenting drudgery and squalor – sleeping in bug-infested hostels and doss houses of last resort, working as a dishwasher in Paris’s vile ‘Hôtel X’, surviving on scraps and cigarette butts, living alongside tramps, a star-gazing pavement artist and a starving Russian ex-army captain. Exposing a shocking, previously-hidden world to his readers, Orwell gave a human face to the statistics of poverty for the first time – and in doing so, found his voice as a writer.

Reviewed by Museum

For most of us this was a re-read after a period of many years. We were still impressed by Orwell’s commitment and his sharp and lucid prose – but with an average age well over70 we found it fascinating to look back on changes in our knowledge of other social classes and the progress in food hygiene! We also opened a sympathetic thought for Mrs Blair. Eric must have been a sore trial to a woman with a French- Colonial background”

star rating ****

 

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The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

About the book

From Subhash’s earliest memories, at every point, his brother was there. In the suburban streets of Calcutta where they wandered before dusk and in the hyacinth-strewn ponds where they played for hours on end, Udayan was always in his older brother’s sight. So close in age, they were inseparable in childhood and yet, as the years pass – as U.S tanks roll into Vietnam and riots sweep across India – their brotherly bond can do nothing to forestall the tragedy that will upend their lives. Udayan – charismatic and impulsive – finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty. He will give everything, risk all, for what he believes, and in doing so will transform the futures of those dearest to him.

Reviewed by Perspectives

Divided opinions. Worth pursuing if you can read past the first few pages. Concisely written”

star rating ***

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And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

About the book

Ten-year-old Abdullah would do anything for his younger sister. In a life of poverty and struggle, with no mother to care for them, Pari is the only person who brings Abdullah happiness. For her, he will trade his only pair of shoes to give her a feather for her treasured collection. When their father sets off with Pari across the desert to Kabul in search of work, Abdullah is determined not to be separated from her. Neither brother nor sister know what this fateful journey will bring them. And the Mountains Echoed is a deeply moving epic of heartache, hope and, above all, the unbreakable bonds of love.

Reviewed by In-Sync

“Nearly everyone read it: it had a lot of short stories with inter-connecting characters, which made it rather too long. Those who read it enjoyed it”

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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