SchomeBase Litererature Discussion Group Meeting 3 Book Choices Eshala Tabacznyk
Return to Meeting 3 Book Choices page
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
I'd take this book cos I never got round to finishing reading it after getting quarter way thru it before course began - and at 1006 pages it would keep me busy for a while!
The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation's past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very opposite of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms the one between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.
Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians. They met upon the third Wednesday of every month and read each other long, dull papers upon the history of English magic. They were gentleman-magicians, which is to say that they had never harmed any one by magic - nor ever done any one the slightest good. In fact, to own the truth, not one of these magicians had ever cast the smallest spell, nor by magic caused one leaf to tremble upon a tree, made one mote of dust to alter its course or changed a single hair upon one's head. But, with this one minor reservation, they enjoyed a reputation as some of the wisest and most magical gentlemen in Yorkshire.
Urban Dreams Rural Realities by Daniel Butler & Bel Crewe
I'd take this book cos it is laugh-out-loud funny and would cheer me up.
"It was raining and the farmyward was ankle-deep in icy sludge.....my dream was coming true...." HIM
"What the bloody hell was I doing here? I was pregnant. How could I live in this mire of sodden earth and drizzling rain?" HER
Bel Crewe enjoyed a comfortable life in Notting Hill, safe in her world of parties, restaurants and delicatessens. Daniel Butler, her boyfriend, was a freelance journalist disillusioned with city existence. Against her better judgement, and six months pregnant, Crewe agreed to go with him in pursuit of a rural idyll in the wilds of Wales. Told in contrasting voices by each of the pair in turn, this is a humorous account of their first year in the back of beyond. Juxtaposing the fantasy and the reality of an attempt to live "The Good Life", it recalls Crewe's despair at being an hour from the nearest supermarket, and Butler's evangelistic delight at their spartan living conditions and ever-growing menagerie.
It was raining the day we moved in and the farmyard was ankle-deep with icy sludge, but nothing could daunt my spirits, Although city-reared, I had drooled at the thought of a wild and windswept life for as long as I could remember, Now, after years of stifled urban life, my dreams of pastoral bliss were becoming a reality.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
I'd take this cos it's the autobiography of one of my fave authors and I haven't read it yet.
Some say that the first hint that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came when his mother sent him to school in lime-green Capri pants. Others think it all started with his discovery, at the age of six, of a woollen jersey of rare fineness. Across the moth-holed chest was a golden thunderbolt. It may have looked like an old college football sweater, but young Bryson knew better. It was obviously the Sacred Jersey of Zap, and proved that he had been placed with this innocuous family in the middle of America to fly, become invisible, shoot guns out of people’s hands from a distance, and wear his underpants over his jeans in the manner of Superman.
Bill Bryson’s first travel book opened with the immortal line, ‘I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.’ In his deeply funny new memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, and the curious world of 1950s America. It was a happy time, when almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes and nuclear fallout. This is a book about growing up in a specific time and place. But in Bryson’s hands, it becomes everyone’s story, one that will speak volumes – especially to anyone who has ever been young.
My kid days were pretty good ones, on the whole. My parents were patient and kind and approximately normal. They didn't chain me in the cellar. They didn't call me 'it'. I was born a boy and allowed to stay that way. My mother, as you'll see, sent me to school once in Capri pants, but otherwise there was little trauma in my upbringing.