September 2013

On the 19th of September we raised our glasses high to toast one of the oldest (if not the oldest) book groups in Cornwall.  It all began with A Pair of Blue Eyes and has included a bit of Rough Music, an English Patient, a Poisonwood Bible and The Map of Love.  The God of Small Things was especially memorable, along with The Handmaid’s Tale, The Help and Holes.  The Suspicions of Mr Whicher contrasted with The Kindness of Strangers, which, as one might imagine, had little to do with Atonement, The Blind Assassin or The Girl in a Polka Dot Dress.

Many scenes were far from our Small Island, set among The Sewing Circles of Herat and The Bookseller of Kabul, trekking with The Camel Bookmobile across A Thousand Acres in a Land of Marvels, or captive at The Siege of Krishnapur, Unless it was simply A Walk in the Woods.

The Circle’s Ladder of Years has been a Life Class, sometimes including The Inheritance of Loss, but never any Bad Blood.  There may be those that think writing fiction is Telling Only Lies and Weaving Shadows in The House of Spirits, but The Believers know that a story can very accurately depict Another Life, croon a Bel Canto, or relate A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian.  Stories have the power to describe Any Human Heart, so the Sweet Obscurity of our next read keeps us on The Razor’s Edge.  It’s The Idea of Perfection to have this month’s choice in our Possession.   The Reader might expect The Portrait of a Lady in The Age of Innocence, or at least Good Behaviour – then wind up Falling into a Bedroom Farce, as someone Noises Off that The Eyre Affair was quite entertaining The Last Time They Met.

We look forward to something lighter during A Week in December and will ask When Will There Be Good News? if we get only Knots and Crosses.   Yes, in Withiel it’s fairly easy to understand what it means to be A Country Wife, but The Keepers of the House also possess a Blithe Spirit because from Lark Rise to Candleford our Circle can savour A Thousand Splendid Suns.


Cornish Guardian – Down Your Way section

Published Sepetmber 2013.

WITHIEL. 20th Anniversary of Withiel Book Circle. In September 1993, Liz Sherriff and a few other ladies got together to start what must be, if not the first, certainly one of the first book groups in Cornwall. Every month since then, always on a Thursday, the Withiel Book Circle has met to discuss something literary.

Two original members are in the Book Circle today and our numbers have ranged from 5 to 15 – more often than not affected by the popularity of the book! When Liz left the area, Joan, who is still a member, became the host, but when her husband’s health declined, the Circle moved to Anne’s house where it remains today. The Book Circle is very grateful to these ladies for their generous hospitality and the stability it offers us. Tessa organises library book sets and her herculean efforts with heavy books make membership much more affordable. The other founding member, Betty, is our resident thespian. We rely heavily on her guidance through our often hilarious attempts at play readings.

The year begins with a play, which has included Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel and Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. Yeats’ poetry has been a topic as well, and one December it was the young adult prize-winner Holes by Louis Sachar. It’s true, there have been a predominance of women authors and main characters: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, and Another Life by Sara MacDonald, a local Cornish author, to name a few. We’ve tackled longer reads like Anna Karenina over a summer break. But books by male authors such as David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones and Rabbit, Run by John Updike have merited lively discussions, and Patrick Gale’s contemporary novels have always proved popular. On our 20th Anniversary we’d like to say a special thank you to Wadebridge Book Shop and the Cornwall Library Service for helping and supporting book groups.

The local newsletter Withiel News and Views publishes our book review, written by one of the members each month, and the Book Circle’s reading list and review archive can be found on the website. We would love to hear from other long-standing book groups in the county.

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