February's book choice was Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor.
"On a rainy Sunday in January, the recently widowed Mrs Palfrey arrives at the Claremont Hotel where she will spend her remaining days. Her fellow residents are magnificently eccentric and endlessly curious, living off crumbs of affection and snippets of gossip. Together, upper lips stiffened, they fight off their twin enemies: boredom and the Grim Reaper.
Then one day Mrs Palfrey strikes up an unlikely friendship with an impoverished young writer, Ludo, who sees her as inspiration for his novel."
Our book club really enjoyed this book, and agreed that it was beautifully written. It raised a lot of discussion points within the group around how older people are valued in society. At times sad, it was also very funny and we will definitely be recommending it to customers.
This month's book is A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa.
A true original, this stunning prose debut by Doireann Ní Ghríofa weaves two stories together. In the 1700s, an Irish noblewoman, on discovering her husband has been murdered, drinks handfuls of his blood and composes an extraordinary poem that reaches across the centuries to another poet. In the present day, a young mother narrowly avoids tragedy in her own life. On encountering the poem, she becomes obsessed with finding out the rest of the story.
Our Friday Book Club choice this month was Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood. Recommended as one of the Ten Banned Books You Must Read at this year's Kildare Readers Festival, this book is set in early 1930s Berlin, during the last days of the Weimar Republic.
This book divided our members, with some members loving the short snapshots into the lives of the residents of Berlin, while others found it disjointed. It brought to mind The Magician by Colm Toibín and Marzahn, Mon Amour by Katje Oskamp. It's certainly a good book to provoke discussion in your book club!
Next month's book is H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.
As a child Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer. She learned the arcane terminology and read all the classic books, including T.H. White's tortured masterpiece, The Goshawk, which describes White's struggle to train a hawk as a spiritual contest. When her father dies and she is knocked sideways by grief, she becomes obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She buys Mabel for £800 on a Scottish quayside and takes her home to Cambridge, embarking on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals.
H Is for Hawk is a record of a spiritual journey--an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald's struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk's taming and her own untaming. It's a book about memory, nature, and how it might be possible to try to reconcile death with life and love.
February saw the first meeting of our new Second Friday Book Club. Our first book will be Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr.
Five protagonists dwell in the heart of Cloud Cuckoo Land: Anna and Omeir, on opposite sides of the city walls during the 1453 siege of Constantinople; teenage idealist Seymour and octogenarian Zeno in an attack on a public library in present-day Idaho; and Konstance, on an interstellar ship bound for an exoplanet, decades from now.
Dedicated to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come,” Cloud Cuckoo Land is a paean to the extraordinary human capacity to transmit stories from generation to generation and a novel about stewardship—of books, of our shared planet, and of the human heart.