Saturday 24 September 2016

Brona's Salon

I miss my old book club. A lot.

I miss discussing books with a group of like-minded, or at least fellow-minded bookish folk.

Each month we used to discuss our shared book, but we always left time at the end to chat about the other books we were reading too.

I do now get to discuss books at work (actually we discuss books at work all the time!) but it's usually on the fly. Quick comparisons or updates to let each other know what we like or don't like or who this particular book might work for (customer wise).

But it's not as satisfying as a bookclub style good old book natter (with a glass of fine wine in hand). These bookish  chats could go anywhere.
They could end up as book-movie comparisons, history discussions, author news (okay gossip!), character assassinations, what made a book a classic, or not.

This kind of bookclub chat may or may not work on a blog, but I thought it was worth a shot to recapture the old bookclub love.

I'll include a linky below. If you'd like to join in with what you're reading right now, then I'd love to chat about it with Brona's Salon.
What are your currently reading?
On and off, all that hot French August, we made ourselves ill from eating the greengages.... 

The faded elegance of Les Oeillets, with its bullet-scarred staircase and serene garden bounded by high walls; Eliot, the charming Englishman who became the children's guardian while their mother lay ill in hospital; sophisticated Mademoiselle Zizi, hotel patronne, and Eliot's devoted lover; 16 year old Joss, the oldest Grey girl, suddenly, achingly beautiful. And the Marne river flowing silent and slow beyond them all.... 

They would merge together in a gold-green summer of discovery, until the fruit rotted on the trees and cold seeped into their bones.... 

The Greengage Summer is Rumer Godden's tense, evocative portrait of love and deceit in the Champagne country of the Marne-which became a memorable film starring Kenneth More and Susannah York. 
How did you find out about this book?
A few months ago at work I was researching the best coming of age books for YA readers.
This was high up on the list. 
I had never heard of it before & the blurb made me curious.
Why are you reading it now? 
I'm in the middle of the Booker shortlisted book, Do Not Say We Have Nothing
I'm loving it, but we've just had a hugely busy week with Mr Book's 50th birthday. 
I've been too tired every night to concentrate on DNSWHN properly & I really want to do it properly. I needed something lighter and less challenging to get me through this Festival of 50 week.
The Greengage Summer has been the perfect choice so far.
First impressions? 
Delicious descriptions of the landscapes and the main characters.
I feel like I'm in the middle of summer in France!

I was a little confused at the start about the gender of all the children.

The amount of French phrases and dialogue is making it hard for this non-French speaker to know what's going on. Godden mostly gives clues in the responses, but I hate not knowing what's being said - exactly.
Which character do you relate to so far?
Our narrator, Cecil(ia).

She's not quite child; not quite adult at 13 years of age.
She struggles to find her sense of belonging.
She has lots of big ideas about how one should be when one travels.
She is a lovely mix of insecurity, strong opinions and insightful comments.
Are you happy to continue?
Where do you think the story will go? 
I hope no-one is taken against their will (sexually speaking).
I suspect, though, that it will mostly be a messy flirtation with complicated consequences.
I'm halfway through and I can't wait to find out what Eliot's secret is.

I believe there was a movie made too.

Have you read or watched The Greengage Summer?
What are your memories of it?
Should I try to find the movie?

Apparently The Greengage Summer was loosely based on a real summer holiday that Godden had with her family as a teenager.

According to Wikipedia, a salon is
a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation.
I'm willing to be your 'inspiring' host, if you're willing to be amusing and refined!


  1. Anonymous24/9/16

    Definitely joining...this is a chance to let my thoughts soar, share and enjoy other people's books. I have NO book club here in NL....feel at times like (hackneyed, I know) 'a fish out of water'.
    Sign-up post today or tomorrow with link. Thx for hosting...!

    1. Thanks for your enthusiasm Nancy :-)

  2. Anonymous27/9/16

    This morning I finished reading Jonathan Safran Foer's latest, Here I Am - it was spectacular and I'm trying to gather my thoughts to write a review. I also finished Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift today - another fantastic book (for all sorts of different reasons). My dilemma now is, what next? What can match those two? I have deliberately picked a book that has been sitting in my TBR stack for ages - Gold by Chris Cleave - I don't have high expectations so won't mind if it's terrible (in comparison to Foer and Swift).

    1. I found it hard to settle to anything after Mothering Sunday! I'm hoping to read more Swift thanks to this book.

      My relationship with Cleave is more complicated. I tend to feel manipulated.

      Foer I only know through the movie of Extremely Loud but I'd like to know more.

  3. Anonymous29/9/16

    Hi Brona! I'll try to participate and be amusing. I'm not sure about being refined. ;) It would be great if we could catch some of the magic that was the Gone With the Wind read-along. I haven't read or blogged much over the summer, but I think I'm back now. I do belong to a book club, but the books we read are a bit more "commercial" than what I usually pick. I have just started reading Dorothy B. Hughes' In a Lonely Place for the 1947 Club, and so far, it's fabulous. The New York Times Book Review from 1975 promises that I'll "wake up in the night screaming with terror." I'm not so sure that will happen, but we'll see.

    1. The GWTW readalong was great wasn't it? I loved learning so much about the book & author & place & I loved all the different perspectives.
      Cirtnecce achieved the same with her recent readalong of The Home and the World. All her background info made the reading experience even more fascinating.

      Waking up in the night screaming! Big call. You've got me curious - I've never heard of Hughes either.

  4. I would love to join. I miss having people with whom to discuss books face to face. I cannot drive after dark and the only book clubs in my town meet at night. I've recently started my own blog and although I have an emphasis on poetry, I would love to discuss many different kinds of fiction too. I've been looking forward to seeing some 2017 challenges posted.

    I like a lot of older books; I love the Victorian period. I am less impressed by contemporary works but am open-minded. Some of my favorite authors (not counting poets) are Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, Edith Wharton, EM Forster, Virginia Woolf, Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Taylor....and others!

    1. Welcome aboard Natalie! This is a new idea so it can be anything we want it to right now :-)

      Very happy to have someone sharing their thoughts in poetry with us too. I've explored a little bit of poetry over the years, but do not feel confident by any means.

      We share a lot of favourite authors, hopefully you can help me learn to love more poets besides Keats, Donne and Marvell (the ones I studied at school basically!!)

      Thanks for your enthusiasm.


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