Great Book Club Choices (Part One)

Whilst I am sadly no longer part of a book club, I thought I would compile a list of twenty titles which I think would be wonderful choices for book club discussions.  Whilst not everyone will like these novels (from past experience, selecting a novel which everyone enjoys and admires is nigh on impossible), the conversation which can be built around them is sure to be stimulating.  For each book, I have copied the blurb to give you an idea as to the plot and style of each.

1. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
“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.”

2. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
“Ten-year-old Abdullah would do anything for his younger sister. In a life of poverty and struggle, with no mother to care for them, Pari is the only person who brings Abdullah happiness. For her, he will trade his only pair of shoes to give her a feather for her treasured collection. When their father sets off with Pari across the desert to Kabul in search of work, Abdullah is determined not to be separated from her. Neither brother nor sister know what this fateful journey will bring them. And the Mountains Echoed is a deeply moving epic of heartache, hope and, above all, the unbreakable bonds of love.”

3. Restless by William Boyd
“It is 1939. Eva Delectorskaya is a beautiful 28-year-old Russian emigree living in Paris. As war breaks out she is recruited for the British Secret Service by Lucas Romer, a mysterious Englishman, and under his tutelage she learns to become the perfect spy, to mask her emotions and trust no one, including those she loves most. Since the war, Eva has carefully rebuilt her life as a typically English wife and mother. But once a spy, always a spy. Now she must complete one final assignment, and this time Eva can’t do it alone: she needs her daughter’s help.”

4. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
The Lacuna is the heartbreaking story of a man’s search for safety of a man torn between the warm heart of Mexico and the cold embrace of 1950s McCarthyite America. Born in the U.S. and reared in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd is a liability to his social-climbing flapper mother, Salome. Making himself useful in the household of the famed Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and exiled Bolshevik leader Lev Trotsky, young Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution. A violent upheaval sends him north to a nation newly caught up in World War II. In the mountain city of Asheville, North Carolina he remakes himself in America’s hopeful image. But political winds continue to throw him between north and south, in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach – the lacuna – between truth and public presumption. A gripping story of identity, loyalty and the devastating power of accusations to destroy innocent people, The Lacuna is as deep and rich as the New World.”

5. The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson
“Can a man be maimed by witchcraft? Can a severed head speak? Based on the most notorious of English witch-trials, this is a tale of magic, superstition, conscience and ruthless murder. It is set in a time when politics and religion were closely intertwined; when, following the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, every Catholic conspirator fled to a wild and untamed place far from the reach of London law. This is Lancashire. This is Pendle. This is witch country.”

6. Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote
“When Joel Knox’s mother dies, he is sent into the exotic unknown of the Deep South to live with a father he has never seen. But once he gets there, everyone is curiously evasive when Joel asks to see his father. Truman Capote’s first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms is a brilliant, searching study of homosexuality set in a shimmering landscape of heat, mystery and decadence.”

7. Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker
“Cassandra Edwards is a graduate student at Berkeley: gay, brilliant, nerve-racked, miserable. At the beginning of this novel, she drives back to her family ranch in the foothills of the Sierras to attend the wedding of her identical twin, Judith, to a nice young doctor from Connecticut. Cassandra, however, is hell-bent on sabotaging the wedding. Dorothy Baker’s entrancing tragicomic novella follows an unpredictable course of events in which her heroine appears variously as conniving, self-aware, pitiful, frenzied, absurd, and heartbroken-at once utterly impossible and tremendously sympathetic. As she struggles to come to terms with the only life she has, Cassandra reckons with her complicated feelings about the sister who she feels owes it to her to be her alter ego; with her father, a brandy-soaked retired professor of philosophy; and with the ghost of her dead mother. First published in 1962, Cassandra at the Wedding is a book of enduring freshness, insight, and verve. Like the fiction of Jeffrey Eugenides and Jhumpa Lahiri, it is the work of a master stylist with a profound understanding of the complexities of the heart and mind.”

8. The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry
“One morning a librarian finds a reader who has been locked in overnight. She begins to talk to him, a one-way conversation full of sharp insight and quiet outrage. As she rails against snobbish senior colleagues, an ungrateful and ignorant public, the strictures of the Dewey Decimal System and the sinister expansionist conspiracies of the books themselves, two things shine through: her unrequited passion for a researcher named Martin, and an ardent and absolute love for the arts. A delightful divertissement for the discerning bookworm…”

9. Hunger by Knut Hamsun
“First published in Norway in 1890, “probes into the depths of consciousness with frightening and gripping power. Like the works of Dostoyevsky, it marks an extraordinary break with Western literary and humanistic traditions. ”

10. Keepers of the House by Lisa St. Aubin de Teran
“Since the eighteenth century the eccentric and flamboyant Beltran family have ruled their desolate Andean valley. Now they are almost extinct. At seventeen, Lydia Sinclair, newly married to Don Diego Beltran, the last of the line, arrives at the vast decaying Hacienda La Bebella. As her husband retreats into himself, Lydia takes refuge in unearthing his ancestors’ tragic history. Benito, the family’s oldest retainer, relates to her tales of splendour and romance, violence and suffering. From these she weaves a rich gothic tapestry in which the fantastic legends of the past are mingled with the present necessity for survival in a harsh, drought-ridden land.”

Purchase from The Book Depository

 

Stay tuned for part two!

7 thoughts on “Great Book Club Choices (Part One)

  1. My book club broke apart a few months ago. 😦 One book that led to a wonderful discussion in our group was The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. I can recommend it (and look forward to your Part Two of recommendations).

    • I’m so sorry to hear that! 😦 Oh, ‘The People of the Book’ is wonderful, and so vivid! I wish I’d been able to join your book club to discuss it with you all. Thanks so much for your lovely comment! 🙂

    • I hope you manage to, Audra! If not, could you start your own? There is a lot of work involved in setting it up, but a few like-minded friends should help, and it will be so worth it in the long-run. Wonderful; I’m so glad they intrigued you!

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