Archive for October, 2014

The Quick by Lauren Owen

QuickYou are about to discover the secrets of The Quick.

But first you must travel to Victorian Yorkshire, and there, on a remote country estate, meet a brother and sister alone in the world and bound by tragedy. In time, you will enter the rooms of London’s mysterious Aegolius Club – a society of some of the richest, most powerful men in fin-de-siecle England. And at some point – we cannot say when – these worlds will collide.

It is then, and only then, that a new world emerges, one of romance, adventure and the most delicious of horrors – and the secrets of The Quick are revealed.

This book was given to me as a book group suggestion because I like to read historical novels and we hadn’t tried one for a while. I like to read books blind whenever I can (not read the blurb or know anything about it) but that is incredibly difficult when trying to choose a book group book for obvious reasons! However, I managed to choose this book with limited knowledge so I was really looking forward to reading it, especially when I started to hear great things and also see it cropping up in various Waterstones stores. (Plus, it has a fabulous cover!)

As I began to read I had all sorts of visions and routes that the two young children could take. So, you can imagine my disappointment when a different route appeared before my eyes. I persevered, and started to emerge myself in the gothic atmosphere and description of London, but I soon became bored waiting for this wonderful storyline to appear. Then, when it did, I couldn’t help but feel that I was being fed a different version of a very well-trodden subject.

Now, I ploughed my way through it as I always finish a book group read, but treacle and wading came to mind. I’m afraid to say that I really didn’t enjoy this book. I wanted to, but my candlewick stayed unlighted I’m afraid. So, I was a little nervous trotting down to our book group meeting. Will we have jot all to talk about because everyone hated it? Apparently not. In fact, I was the only one who didn’t really like it!

OK, so some did find it a bit tedious in the middle, and found the ending a little bit odd, but on a whole it was well received. Most of the group enjoyed the novel and the macabre and gothic feel was done quite well, but for me the plot felt a little bit thin. Strangely enough, the aspect that I didn’t like was what most of the group enjoyed. Indeed, it was a different spin on the traditional views of this ‘aspect’ but it still didn’t feel believable enough for me.

If you enjoy reading the gothic horrors then please do give this a try, but don’t expect anything new. Would I try another of Lauren Owen’s books? Yes, I would, because I did enjoy her style but I’d expect a little more creativity next time.

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The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

RosieLove isn’t an exact science – but no one told Don Tillman. A thirty-nine-year-old geneticist, Don’s never had a second date. So he devises the Wife Project, a scientific test to find the perfect partner. Enter Rosie – ‘the world’s most incompatible woman’ – throwing Don’s safe, ordered life into chaos.

This book came to me on a recommendation, and I’d also seen quite a few positive reviews, so I thought it might be a good one for the group. Personally, I thought it was brilliant. It was quirky funny and insightful (to a certain point) and it certainly pulled out a few burning questions from our group.

Don Tillman lives his life in a very regimental fashion. We are never told that he has a particular disorder, but the first chapter does lead the reader to a reasonable conclusion. Don feels the need to analyse everything when assessing his new ‘mate’ for the future. So much so, that he creates a questionnaire (which I thought was a pretty good idea!) but this doesn’t go down too well with prospective partners. His plan to find a wife seems to be failing miserably until Rosie steps into the picture. Rosie couldn’t be any further from his ideal partner, which is probably why they get on so well. Opposites attract don’t they?

Rosie changes Don’s life forever, and they both tread on a journey that ends up with disastrous consequences. (However, the route that they take makes for a pretty funny read.) Peppered with humour, and written in a very unusual style, The Rosie Project is certainly one for the quirky reader. Most of the group enjoyed the book, but the heated discussions arose when we started to talk about the real underlining content of the book. Asperger’s Syndrome.

As someone who neither suffers from nor knows someone with Asperger’s, I found this an interesting read yet I did take it with a pinch of salt. Some people think that this is a book that will give you an insight into the condition, yet others believe that this isn’t a true reflection and actually find it offensive. It was interesting to hear from two members who knew people with this condition. One member thought that their friend would like this as it was humours in a delicate way, yet another member felt that it was actually quite offensive and a bad portrayal of the condition.

For me, I read it as a work of fiction that included aspects of a particular condition. I thought that it was well written and that the Asperger’s aspect fuelled the story rather than hindered it. Most of the group enjoyed it too, and some have gone on to read the second book, The Rosie Effect, which I wouldn’t mind tackling myself when I get a spare moment.

In a nutshell this was definitely a good book group read and even those that didn’t fully like the content and the image it portrayed, they still  found it an interesting read. If you’re looking for a humorous read with interesting and thought provoking content, then this is certainly worth a try.

 

 


About the group

The Tees Valley Book Group meets at Stockton Central Library at 6.30pm on the first Tuesday of the month.

If you would like more information about what the group is reading, please visit www.newwritingnorth.com/submit/join-tees-valley-book-group.

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