8pm, 14th August 2018 – See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Just after 11am on 4th August 1892, the bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden are discovered. He’s found on the sitting room sofa, she upstairs on the bedroom floor, both murdered with an axe.

It is younger daughter Lizzie who is first on the scene, so it is Lizzie who the police first question, but there are others in the household with stories to tell: older sister Emma, Irish maid Bridget, the girls’ Uncle John, and a boy who knows more than anyone realises.

In a dazzlingly original and chilling reimagining of this most notorious of unsolved mysteries, Sarah Schmidt opens the door to the Borden home and leads us into its murkiest corners, where jealousies, slow-brewed rivalries and the darkest of thoughts reside.

Check out the GoodReads page here

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8pm, 11th September 2018 – Larchfield by Polly Clark

‘We need the courage to choose ourselves.’ W. H. Auden

It’s early summer when a young poet, Dora Fielding, moves to Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland and her hopes are first challenged. Newly married, pregnant, she’s excited by the prospect of a life that combines family and creativity.

She thinks she knows what being a person, a wife, a mother, means. She is soon shown that she is wrong.

As the battle begins for her very sense of self, Dora comes to find the realities of small town life suffocating, and, eventually, terrifying; until she finds a way to escape reality altogether. Another poet, she discovers, lived in Helensburgh once.

Wystan H. Auden, brilliant and awkward at 24, with his first book of poetry published, should be embarking on success and society in London. Instead, in 1930, fleeing a broken engagement, he takes a teaching post at Larchfield School for boys where he is mocked for his Englishness and suspected – rightly – of homosexuality.

Yet in this repressed limbo Wystan will fall in love for the first time, even as he fights his deepest fears. The need for human connection compels these two vulnerable outsiders to find each other and make a reality of their own that will save them both.

Echoing the depths of Possession, the elegance of The Stranger’s Child and the ingenuity of LongbournLarchfield is a beautiful and haunting novel about heroism – the unusual bravery that allows unusual people to go on living; to transcend banality and suffering with the power of their imagination.

Check out the GoodReads page here

8pm, 9th October – Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. This, his debut novel, is often considered his best and is the most widely read book in modern African literature. He won the Man Booker International Prize in 2007.

A compelling story of one man’s battle to protect his community against the forces of change. Okonkwo is the greatest wrestler and warrior alive, and his fame spreads throughout West Africa like a bush-fire. But when he accidentally kills a clansman, things begin to fall apart. Then Okonkwo returns from exile to find missionaries and colonial governors have arrived in the village. With his world thrown radically off-balance, he can only hurtle towards tragedy. First published in 1958, Chinua Achebe’s stark, coolly ironic novel reshaped both African and world literature, and has sold over ten million copies in forty-five languages. This arresting parable of a proud but powerless man witnessing the ruin of his people begins Achebe’s landmark trilogy of works chronicling the fate of one African community, continued in Arrow of God and No Longer at Ease.

The author of more than twenty books – novels, short stories, essays and collections of poetry – Achebe received numerous honours from around the world, including honourary doctorates from more than thirty colleges and universities. He was also the recipient of Nigeria’s highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award. He died in 2013.

When compared to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, it’s ‘A great book, that bespeaks a great, brave, kind, human spirit’ so said John Updike. Whereas, none other than Nelson Mandela said that Achebe was “the writer in whose company the prison walls fell down”

You can check out the GoodReads page here

8pm, 13th November 2018 – Mothers by Chris Power (Author in-situ)

Casual get together, as ever to review this month’s book: slight difference this month is that the author, Chris Power, will be joining us! 

With reviews ranging from ‘a daring debut short story collection‘ and ‘more than the sum of its parts – not a clutch of episodes, but a single, unified, many-sided work, best read cover to cover’ to ‘lonely voices living in a maternal world’ and ‘a compelling examination of alienation, absurdity and the things that are left unsaid‘.

Get your hands on the book here, or your fingertips on the pixels of it via Kindle here or Kobo here.

 

 

8pm, 11th December; A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg + Secret Santa

“I-i-i-i-i-i-it’s Chri-i-i-i-i-istmas!” or so yelped Noddy Holder.

As such, it’s time for our annual Secret Santa. Pick a book off your shelf that you’ve love, love, LOVED and write a little note to explain why, but don’t sign off: it needs to be a surprise. Wrap it up in the cheapest wrapping paper you can find and bring it along. We’ll pop them all in a hessian sack (or a carrier, sack supplies are low at this time of year) and take it in turns to pick one out. Then read it over the holidays and come back in January to have a guess at who submitted the book!

In terms of the book of the month; we’ll be reviewing Fannie Flagg’s A Redbird Christmas. See you there, gwelwch chi yna!

8pm, 12th December – Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

“Ingenious narration and a sinister air distinguish Ottessa Moshfegh’s brilliant novel Eileen”

To close 2017, we’ll have a Christmas book with a difference. No chintzy Dickens, no poetic Thomas childhood recollection. Nope, we’ll be knocked flat by a narrative left turn of gut-curdling horror; what’s not to love and feel all festive about.

Goodreads page

8pm, 14th November – Dean Burnett – The Idiot Brain: A Neuroscientist Explains What Your Head is Really Up To

Very pleased to welcome, a neuroscientist and psychiatry lecturer at the Centre for Medical Education at Cardiff University and the author of the Guardian’s most-read science blog, Brain Flapping. He lives in Cardiff.

We’ll be reviewing his book The Idiot Brain: A Neuroscientist Explains What Your Head is Really Up To