2015

JANUARY

Zadie Smith NWSynopsis:

Zadie Smith’s brilliant tragi-comic NW follows four Londoners – Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan – after they’ve left their childhood council estate, grown up and moved on to different lives. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their city is brutal, beautiful and complicated. Yet after a chance encounter they each find that the choices they’ve made, the people they once were and are now, can suddenly, rapidly unravel.

What Riverside Readers thought:

NW attracted a mixed reception from book group members. At best it was a provoking and vivid depiction of multicultural London, in microcosm. At worst it was described as directionless and meandering, and sometimes dull. Shocking moments livened up extended and disjointed passages. All agreed the writing was high quality. Some felt the message of the impact on the characters of their council-estate background was subtly conveyed, others felt it was about as subtle as sledgehammer. All fodder for an excellent discussion!

The choice of: Mark

Score: 5.5/10

FEBRUARY

Everything I Never Told You

Synopsis:

Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee; a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue – in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the centre of every party. But Lydia is under pressures that have nothing to do with growing up in 1970s small town Ohio. Her father is an American born of first-generation Chinese immigrants, and his ethnicity, and hers, make them conspicuous in any setting.

What Riverside Readers thought:

We all responded to the lack of communication in the family, how none of them really knew each other, and the parents ignored what was in front of them for an ideal imagined impression of what they thought their perfect American family should be. It was sad and frustrating but ultimately had an imperfect happy ending that came through tragedy.

The choice of: Claire

Score: 7.5/10

APRIL

master and margaritaSynopsis:

The devil makes a personal appearance in Moscow accompanied by various demons, including a naked girl and a huge black cat. When he leaves, the asylums are full and the forces of law and order in disarray. Only the Master, a man devoted to truth, and Margarita, the woman he loves, can resist the devil’s onslaught.

What Riverside Readers thought:

Riverside Readers found The Master and Margarita an incredibly challenging read. We even had to cheerlead each other on Twitter, breaking our “first rule of book club – don’t talk about the book (before the meeting)”! But we made it through what was both a jarring (crazy-surreal, too many characters with confusing Russian names, bizarre backstory about Pontius Pilate) and fantastic (dramatic beheadings, flying maids on broomsticks, passionate love of Margarita for the “Master”, Satanic ball and… a talking bow-tie-wearing henchman-to-Satan CAT). What an experience. We were in equal measure, exhausted and amazed by this incredibly original novel.

The choice of: Polly

Score: 7.5/10

MAY

my-brilliant-friend

The choice of: Armen

Score: Rating unavailable

 

JUNE

download

The choice of: Claire

Score: 7.5/10

JULY

Was Riverside Readers 6th birthday!

images

 

AUGUST

Spring Snow

The choice of: Sakura

Score: 9/10

SEPTEMBER

The Grass is Singing

The choice of: Kim

Score: 9/10

OCTOBER

1Q84

The choice of: Dom

Score: 8.5/10

NOVEMBER

Bastard out of Carolina

The choice of: Claire

Score: 7.5/10

DECEMBER

Book of Unknown Americans

The choice of: Roz

Score: 7/10

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