Category Archives: Book Club

“Encircled by Invisible Emotion”: Damon Galgut, Arctic Summer

This kind of companionship had far more value to Morgan than their few, fumbling physical encounters. Sex could be forgotten, or made into something that it wasn’t, but feelings were much harder to erase. There had been moments, from their time in Alexandria, when they had simply sat together talking quietly, or smoking cigarettes in […]

“Ordinary corrupt human love”: Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

I’m tired and I don’t want any more pain. I want Maurice. I want ordinary corrupt human love. Dear God, you know I want to want Your pain, but I don’t want it now. Take it away for a while and give it me another time. My local book club met Tuesday night to discuss […]

“The Leap of Life”: D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Connie went to the wood directly after lunch. It was really a lovely day, the first dandelions making suns, the first daisies so white. The hazel thicket was a lace-work of half-open leaves and the last dusty perpendicular of the catkins. Yellow celandines now were in crowds, flat open, pressed back in urgency, and the […]

“She wrote. She wrote. She wrote.” Virginia Woolf, Orlando

Orlando had so ordered it that she was in an extremely happy position; she need neither fight her age, nor submit to it; she was of it, yet remained herself. Now, therefore, she could write, and write she did. She wrote. She wrote. She wrote. Part way into my book club’s discussion of Orlando, one of […]

“And neither was content”: George Gissing, The Odd Women

I suggested Gissing’s The Odd Women to my book club as our follow-up to The Murderess: though the two novels are drastically dissimilar in style and setting, they are fairly near chronologically and, more to the point for my book club, extremely close in the problem they address: the hazards of being a “redundant” woman in a […]

“Torn by the claws of reality”: Alexandros Papadiamantis, The Murderess

My book group’s last read was Mary Stewart’s This Rough Magic. We like to follow some thread from one book to the next; we got to Mary Stewart from Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn  by way of romantic suspense, and decided to make Greek islands our next connection. The obvious choice would have been Zorba the Greek (and I wouldn’t […]

The Enchanted Island: Mary Stewart, This Rough Magic

It was very interesting reading This Rough Magic so soon after Jamaica Inn. My book club likes to follow a thread from one book to the next; we picked Stewart as another good example of vintage romantic suspense, and settled on This Rough Magic because it’s one of her most popular titles. We did better than we knew: This Rough Magic turns […]

“Defying Man and Storm”: Daphne du Maurier, Jamaica Inn

I’m no connoisseur of romantic suspense, but it’s hard to imagine it being done better than Jamaica Inn. Really, this book has it all: a grim, windswept, yet beautiful landscape; a grim, brooding, yet charismatic villain; a grim, twisted, yet convincing plot; Jamaica Inn itself, “a house that reeked of evil . . . a solitary […]

“He was my shadow, or I was his”: Daphne du Maurier, The Scapegoat

The Scapegoat is the third novel I’ve read recently with a plot that turns on stolen identities. It’s really interesting how differently they deal with the dangerous temptation to be someone else. In each case, the usurper is at least somewhat sympathetic because what he wants is so simple and recognizable: belonging, acceptance, communion. But […]

Book Club: Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley

My local book club met Monday night to discuss The Talented Mr. Ripley. We were all newcomers to Highsmith, and though not everyone exactly enjoyed reading the novel (I definitely did), I think we were all intrigued and impressed by it — or perhaps I should say by her, and the quietly insidious way she got us […]

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