Tuesday, 11th December, 2012: How It All Began by Penelope Lively

One thing you can be sure of at the Bergli book discussion evenings is animation! All seven of us joined in vigorous discussion with sufficient divergence of opinion to keep it spicy. We thought we had covered the ground quite well and then fresh impetus came when Mary came out with an excellent questionnaire which raised all sorts of new aspects to talk about.  Great fun! ES

 

Tuesday, 13th November, 2012: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Six Pro: one Contra. The one against was the only male among us and that fact alone could be significant! The approval of the women varied in its intensity and the second-time readers confirmed that, as so often, a re-reading revealed some previously unappreciated subtleties. One of the Pros used the word "life-enhancing" and then apologised for sounding pretentious but the adjective was a good choice because in spite of some implausibilites, this parable-book is often enriching, sometimes moving, and the huge cast of characters is highly entertaining and full of well-observed details. ES

 

Tuesday, 9th October, 2012: The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje

There were nine of us attempting to thresh out the complexities of this intriguing book. Thanks to our exchange of impressions, the confusing interactions of this cast of large and highly-colourful personalities and the to-and-fro switches between past and present became less bewildering and revealed subtleties of construction that had not been obvious at first. Not easy reading, but worth the effort. ES

 

Tuesday, 11th September, 2012: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

No consensus this time! 5 Contras against 1 Pro. The 1 defended the book vociferously, unfortunately without the support of the person who had advocated the book in the first place and then did not appear. Of the 5s, three did admit that they had actually not read more than parts of it.   However, the 5s' reasons for being Contra were so varied that the discussion was really very active. There were a number of assessments about Patchett's skill as a writer, with reference to the character credibility, the re-creation of the appalling local conditions round a sophisticated lab, the social interactions, and the profound moral issues involved in the work of the researchers (share-holders’ profits against humanitarian ideals.)   While we were naturally for the humanitarian aspect, Robert contributed a very perceptive and sobering comment pointing out the possible adverse effect on global population if the ideal were realised  -- and that set us off again .... ES

 

Tuesday, 14th August, 2012: Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro

Unlike Before I Go to Sleep, this book received universal approval. We were all intrigued by her insights into the complexities of the human mind and her subtly-layered probing into the motives and reactions of her characters. Each one of us was able to contribute a useful comment helping to unravel one or other of the obscurities and so gaining better understanding but there remained puzzling aspects and the discussion was really inter-active. We finished up getting very involved with a definition of happiness and what was the meaning of the "too much" in the eponymous story. ES

 

Tuesday, 10th July, 2012: The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal

The book and the discussion were enjoyed by all.

 

Tuesday, 12th June, 2012: Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

This time there was much (good humoured) disagreement, which kept the discussion animated. Views varied from unmitigated rejection (Dave) at one end, to enjoyment and support (Elizabeth and Bernhard) at the other. There was a range of opinions from the rest of the group, admittedly more negative than positive, but it made the get-together worth while and enjoyable. ES

 

Tuesday, 8th May, 2012: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

 

Tuesday, 3rd Aprul, 2012: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

We didn't agree on every point (how do you define ‘contrived’ with reference to plot construction? - Leslie and Howard exchanging opinions very entertainingly). We did agree, however, in appreciating the skill with which he creates a rich array of characters, the humour, the descriptions of the dark side of poverty and crime in theLondonof the period, his passionate concern with social conditions and, as a story-teller, his gift for creating high suspense. ES

 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012: The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany

What a contrast of cultures and human predicaments!  It was a good discussion with lots of different perspectives. ES

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize for Literature)

It was a lively discussion. Each of us had topics in this book that we were eager to discuss and could relate to. ES

 

Tuesday, 10th January, 2012: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Everybody enjoyed this book immensely and could relate to the situation of the changes of perspectives that living in another country invariably brings. ES