Book Group

Contact Cathy Wilde or Lesley Winrow.
saddleworthwi.bookgroup@gmail.com

We meet on the fourth Wednesday of each month at The Conservative Club, Uppermill in the big room upstairs. Discussion starts at 7.30 pm.

We will open all the windows and doors, so if the weather changes please bring a cardy. The room is nice and large so there is plenty of room to space out the chairs. We ask that masks are worn until you are sat down and then it is personal choice as to whether you remove your mask or leave it on.

You are welcome to join us. Come along and see what it’s all about, even if you haven’t read the book for the month.

The Book Group is available to Saddleworth WI members only.

At our November meeting we will have the draw for our 2022 books. So start thinking about which book you will choose and bring details to any meeting before then if you won’t be there in November.


BOOK LIST 2021

JANUARY 27th

Nigel – My Family and Other Dogs by Monty Don

When Monty Don’s golden retriever Nigel became the surprise star of the BBC Gardeners’ World, Monty wanted to explore what makes us connect with animals quite so deeply.

REVIEW
The first Zoom of the year was a huge success with the group reviewing Nigel – My Family and Other Dogs by Monty Don.

Monty Don is a great writer who is well known  for his gardening books but here he has created a warm, witty touching book around his love of dogs.

He speaks about his relationship with a number of family pets and the part each one played in his family’s life. Monty is without doubt a wonderful gardener but in this book it is clear he is also very much a dog lover as well. 

This book, although enjoyed by the group, had very mixed reviews. Some felt it was very laboured with others feeling he had captured the relationship between man and his dog well. Some of the group felt the use of historical information such as the history of dogs in society added an extra layer to the book. 

“Heartwarming”
“Nothing outstanding as a book”
“Made me want a dog”
“Well written”

“Could relate to own dogs”
“Appeal to dog lovers”
“Rambling in parts” 


This year the group will scoring each book out of five; this book received overall  2.5.


FEBRUARY 24th

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

The unforgettable love story of a mother blinded by loss and her husband who insists on their survival as they undertake the Syrian refugee trail to Europe.

REVIEW
This months book was The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri. This is a well crafted book tracing the struggles and trials of a husband and his wife who are escaping Syria to England. The book examines the difficulties and horrors refugees face when fleeing their homelands. Although the book is a work of fiction it does have a ring of authenticity. The book also is in some ways a love story about the two main characters and how their love endures the difficulties life throws at them and how hope endures. The story should make the reader question the refugee crisis and the trauma that people go through to reach a safe country.

“Question the stereotyping of refugees”
“Harrowing”
“Although fiction could so easily be true”
“Subject matter makes it a difficult read”
“Strong characters”

There were 20 members present and the vote was 4.2


MARCH 24th

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama

A Story of Race and Inheritance is a memoir by Barack Obama, that explores the events of his early years in Honolulu and Chicago up until his entry into law school in 1988.

REVIEW
The book for March was Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama. The book is a memoir of his early years and tells a story of race and diversity and his journey which leads him on his path in life to eventually become the president of USA. He recalls the people who influenced his life but also the impact of an absentee father. Although his relationship with his father was nonexistent he states, “ my mother gave me my drive but my father gave me my dreams’.

The group had very mixed views about the book.

At times heavy going”
“Due to number of characters confusing at times”
“Good description of places”
“Explored the complex issue of absentee fathers


There were 19 members present and overall the score was 3.2


APRIL 28th

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it.

REVIEW
The book for April was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Written sixty years ago during the Civil Rights Movement in America, the book explores the loss of innocence with its focal point of racism. Although tackling a very serious subject, there was humour that came through and some very sympathetic characters. The group had very positive views about the book and an overwhelming majority enjoyed it.

It was suggested that every year the Book Group should read and discuss a classic novel such as this.

“Really enjoyed reading it again”
“Still controversial”
“Things haven’t really moved on in attitudes towards some topics”
“Pertinent that we are discussing it now”


There were 14 members present and overall the score was 4.65 (apologies for the mis-calculation on the night).


MAY 26th

The Trouble with Elephants by Julia Wolfendale

One is never enough!
The extraordinary events at the Belle Vue Zoo in the Victorian Era.

REVIEW
The book for May was The Trouble with Elephants by Julia Wolfendale and is the story of the extraordinary events at Belle Vue Zoo in the Victorian era.

This was Julia’s first novel which she started writing as a child then redrafted and completed recently. It was inspired after visiting the skeleton of the elephant called Maharajah at the Manchester Museum and after reading the newspaper reports of Belle Vue Zoo in Manchester Central Library.

“Feel good”
“Heart warming”
“Perfect children’s book”
“Nostalgic”
“Nice read during Covid restrictions”


17 members discussed the book which, for some, brought back many happy childhood memories of visiting Belle Vue and even of riding the elephants. The book scored 3.1

After the discussion the author joined the Zoom meeting. She gave us a great insight into writing the book and even showed us her childhood handwritten notebook and an image of herself with Maharajah’s skeleton. She kindly answered several questions from the group. The perfect end to a lovely meeting.


JUNE 23rd

The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre

The double life of a KGB insider recruited by MI6 features microfilm, Soviet secrets and a daring escape.

REVIEW
The book for June was The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre and is the story of the double life of a KGB insider recruited by MI6 featuring microfilm, Soviet secrets and a daring escape.

“Enjoyed it”
“Overwhelming but fascinating”


14 members discussed the book. There was a lively discussion about his contribution to world peace and there was surprising and fascinating information about several British politicians. The book scored 3.35.


JULY 28th

Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty

A controversial and darkly comic story of the frustrations of being a childless women in the modern baby-obsessed world.

REVIEW
The book for July was Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty and is the controversial and darkly comic story of the frustrations of being a childless women in the modern baby-obsessed world.

“Didn’t feel sympathy for any of the characters”
“When able to hide behind social media it can bring out the worst in some people”

“Didn’t fulfil its potential”
“Not many character descriptions”

13 members met at Uppermill Conservative Club to discuss the book, and another 6 met on Zoom. There was agreement that the book wasn’t well written and readers couldn’t identify with the subject matter. It sparked a discussion about social media and the harm it can do. Most people said they would not recommend the book. The book scored 1.65.

All those at the Conservative Club agreed it was lovely to be back meeting face to face and those who met via Zoom appreciated being given the choice of meeting venue.


AUGUST 25th

I am I am I am by Maggie O’Farrell

Maggie O’Farrell’s astonishing memoir of the near death experiences that have punctuated and defined her life.

REVIEW
The book for August was “I am I am I am” by Maggie O’Farrell, her own memories of her near death experiences that have punctuated and defined her life.

17 members attended and due to the lovely warm evening the meeting was held al fresco. Although everyone agreed that the book was well written the subject matter raised various options.

“Well written “
“Loved it’
“Self indulgence by the author “
“Interesting rather than enjoyable “
“Not an uplifting read”
“Parts of the book depressing”


The book scored 3.6.

Next meet is on the 22nd September at the Conservative Club Uppermill at 7.30pm. The book is The Secrets of Sunshine by Phaedra Patrick. Phaedra will be the guest speaker at the WI meeting in October.


SEPTEMBER 22nd

The Secrets of Sunshine by Phaedra Patrick

A single father gets an unexpected second chance at love as we follow one man’s journey to unlock his heart and discover new beginnings in the unlikeliest places

REVIEW
The book for September was The Secrets of Sunshine by Phaedra Patrick. 

The story is part mystery part romance and tells the quirky story of a single father who gets an unexpected second chance of love in this new novel from local writer Phaedra who will be the guest speaker at the October WI meeting.

“Predictable story“
“Not enough depth or substance” 
“Okay as a light holiday read“
“Story and characters not developed enough“

The book scored 1.9.

The next meeting will be on the 27th October at the Conservative Club Uppermill at 7.30pm.
The book is The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. 


OCTOBER 27th

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders. But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.


NOVEMBER 24th

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

A fictional account of Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet who died at age 11 in 1596.


DECEMBER 15th

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Between life and death there is a library. When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret.