publishers have reading guides to their books
available online which can be useful for starting a
Book Club discussion or simply getting more out of a
book. Below are a small selection of links
that may be of use:
Reading Group Guides dot com
Bloomsbury Reading Guides
Penguin Readers' Group
Faber & Faber's Reading Groups
Book Club Girl Blog
The Great Gatsby,
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Jay Gatsby’s parties are legendary. Night and day, the rich and beautiful descend upon his mansion to drink and to dance. For Nick Carraway, newly arrived on Long Island, the handsome, wealthy Gatsby seems to lead the perfect life. But beneath that shimmering facade Gatsby harbours an obsessive desire for the only thing he truly wants, but can never have.
The Great Gatsby is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece; a tragic love story played out in a world of dangerous illusion amidst the famous decadence of the roaring twenties.
The official film edition includes an interview with director Baz Luhrmann.
A Raven Favourite
Save Me The Waltz,
'Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.'
One of the great literary curios of the twentieth century Save Me the Waltz is the first and only novel by the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. During the years when Fitzgerald was working on Tender is the Night, Zelda Fitzgerald was preparing her own story, which strangely parallels the narrative of her husband, throwing a fascinating light on Scott Fitzgerald's life and work. In its own right, it is a vivid and moving story: the confessional of a famous glamour girl of the affluent 1920s and an aspiring ballerina which captures the spirit of an era.
In Holt, Colorado, Tom Guthrie is struggling to bring up his two young sons alone. In the same town, school girl Victoria Roubideaux finds herself pregnant and homeless. Whilst Tom’s sons find their way forward without their mother, quiet and gentle Harold and Raymond McPheron agree to take Victoria in, unaware that their lives are about to change forever.
In a snow-covered village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as her father is abducted in the middle of the night by Russian soldiers. Their life-long friend and neighbour, Akhmed, has also been watching, and when he finds Havaa he knows of only one person who might be able to help.
For tough-minded doctor Sonja Rabina, it’s just another day of trying to keep her bombed-out, abandoned hospital going. When Akhmed arrives with Havaa, asking Sonja for shelter, she has no idea who the pair are and even less desire to take on yet more responsibilities and risk.
But over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will shift on its axis, revealing the intricate pattern of connections that binds these three unlikely companions together and unexpectedly decides their fate.
The astonishing and riveting tale of a man's journey from impoverished rural boy to corporate tycoon, it steals its shape from the business self-help books devoured by youths all over 'rising Asia'. It follows its nameless hero to the sprawling metropolis where he begins to amass an empire built on the most fluid and increasingly scarce of goods: water. Yet his heart remains set on something else, on the pretty girl whose star rises alongside his, their paths crossing and re-crossing in a love affair sparked and snuffed out again by the forces that careen their fates along.
The hero of the story could be any one of us, hungry for a different life. And ours too could be the fate that awaits him...
Fast-paced, vivid and emotionally absorbing, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia creates two unforgettable characters who find moments of transcendent intimacy in the midst of shattering change.
|If you are unable to find
a suitable Book Club near you, there are numerous ones
online, on TV and on the radio with vibrant, engaging
The Guardian Book Club's May choice is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.
The Poisonwood Bible tells the story of an American family in the Congo during a time of tremendous political and social upheaval. The story is told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them all they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it - from garden seeds to Scripture - is calamitously transformed on African soil. This tale of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction, over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa, is set against one of history's most dramatic political parables.
The Poisonwood Bible dances between the darkly comic human failings and inspiring poetic justices of our times. In a compelling exploration of religion, conscience, imperialist arrogance, and the many paths to redemption, Barbara Kingsolver has written a novel of overwhelming power and passion.
The BBC Radio 4 Book Club is reading Quarantine by Jim Crace.
Under an endless and unforgiving sky, four travellers enter the Judean desert in search of redemption. Instead, amidst the barren rocks, they are met by a dangerous man, Musa, and fall under his dark influence. But there is a fervent, solitary figure also sharing their landscape, denying the temptations of his neighbours, and, ultimately, the needs of his own body. So begin forty days and nights in one of the most inhospitable terrains on earth.
The BBC Radio 4 Book At Bedtime is Sarah Dunant's new novel about the Borgias, Blood & Beauty.
By the end of the fifteenth century, the beauty and creativity of Italy is matched by its brutality and corruption, nowhere more than in Rome and in the Church. When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia buys his way into the papacy as Alexander VI, he is defined not just by his wealth or his passionate love for his illegitimate children, but by his blood: he is a Spanish Pope in a city run by Italians. If the Borgias are to triumph, this charismatic, consummate politician with a huge appetite for life, women and power must use papacy and family to succeed.
His eldest son Cesare, a dazzlingly cold intelligence and an even colder soul, is his greatest - though increasingly unstable - weapon. Later immortalised in Machiavelli's The Prince, he provides the energy and the muscle. His daughter Lucrezia, beloved by both men, is the prime dynastic tool. Twelve years old when the novel opens, hers is a journey through three marriages: from childish innocence to painful experience, from pawn to political player.
The BBC Radio 4 Book Of The Week is The North by Paul Morley.
Here is the north, this is where it lies, where it belongs, full of itself, high up above everything else, surrounded by everything that isn't the north, that's off the page, somewhere else...
Paul Morley grew up in Reddish, less than five miles from Manchester and even closer to Stockport. Ever since the age of seven, old enough to form an identity but too young to be aware that 'southern' was a category, Morley has always thought of himself as a northerner. What that meant, he wasn't entirely sure. It was for him, as it is for millions of others in England, an absolute, indisputable truth. But he wondered why, when as a child he was so ready to abandon his Cheshire roots and support the much more successful Lancashire cricket team, and when as an adult he found he could travel between London and Manchester in less than two hours, he continued to say he was from the North.
Forty years after walking down grey pavements on his way to school, Paul explores what it means to be northern and why those who consider themselves to be believe it so strongly. Like industrial towns dotted across great green landscapes of hills and valleys, Morley breaks up his own history with fragments of his region's own social and cultural background. Stories of his Dad spreading margarine on Weetabix stand alongside those about northern England's first fish and chip shop in Mossley, near Oldham. And out of these lyrical memories rise many disconnected voices of the north; Wordsworth's poetry, Larkin's reflections and Formby's guitar. Morley maps the entire history of northern England through its people and the places they call home - from the frozen landscapes of the Ice Age to the Norman invasion to the construction of the Blackpool tower - to show that the differences go deeper than just an accent.
Ambitiously sweeping and beautifully impressionistic, without ever losing touch with the minute details of life above the M25, The North is an extraordinary mixture of memoir and history, a unique insight into how we, as a nation, classify the unclassifiable.