Book Club 2023-2024

The Well of Saint Nobody, by Neil Jordan

 This is a magical, mystical story involving two main characters – William, a once famous professional pianist, and Tara, a struggling piano teacher, recently separated, who both, by some chance / twist of fate, end up in the same small village.

Tara recognises him from having met him on 3 separate occasions, whereas he has no such memories.

This makes it easier for her to weave her way into his world and become his housekeeper with the idea of exacting revenge for a past wrongdoing on his part.

However,she didn’t reckon on 2 major factors … one that they could become friends, let alone lovers, or that the unused well with moss growing on it would actually cure his terrible skin condition, because she just made up a yarn about it’s curative powers!

Part one is filled with musical references, even Tara’s way of walking and moving is lyrical to William, and he’s overjoyed to be able to play his piano again.

The appearance of a hare near the well adds to the mysticism, and the idea of revenge fades, replaced by guilt on Tara’s side, plus worry as to whether to tell all her secrets to him or not.

Part two introduces us to the villain of the story, an obnoxious character who inveigles his way into the now peaceful household, with the idea of “inheriting” or otherwise obtaining lots of money from William and Tara. The tone is no way musical, the story is tense.

Suddenly we are introduced to Daisy, and an extraordinary turn of events, ending with a reunion of Alistair with his mother and of him meeting his dad for the first time. Alastair recovers from his illness and begins to play the piano, bringing music back into the household, and lightening the story.  The once lone hare is now accompanied by two other hates … and the lost glove is found, full of dried moss …mystical, magical ending.

Our members gave an average of 4, even with 2 votes of 5 in that score.

Lively discussion on the consequences of one’s actions on others, lack of care maybe on Tara’s part, especially giving up her newborn son.

Her ease at inventing a Saint to suit her purpose, and did she accidentally push  the con artist to his death??  She was very familiar with where the water flowed from the well and was confidant in a body not surfacing for a long time, far away from the source..

All agreed that the characters were vividly described, real, and the descriptive   passages were short and concise. Most enjoyable read for all but one, who must have the last word here – a “Melancholy Fiction “

      Review by Valerie Lynch Kelly.

The Night Train to Marrakech by Dinah Jefferies.

The Night Train to Marrakech was the book for November.

The story was set in the 1960’s when a young French girl Vicky Baudin went on an epic journey to Marrakesh to meet her grandmother and perhaps Yves Saint Laurent. Vickey and her cousin Beatrice witness a murder. Later Beatrice goes missing. What follows is a story of family, friendships, intrigue, murder and love.

Bookclub members enjoyed the ambiance of the book. They could smell the perfume of the flowers and visualise the atmosphere of the Souks and the Atlas Mountains.

Though this was a standalone book it was the third of a trilogy. Members suggested it might have helped had we read the books in order as it might give more of an insight into the characters and to the political situation.

Our members gave an average score of 4 out of 5.

Review by Clare Magee

Strange Sally Diamond, by Liz Nugent

You don’t have to “love” a book to continue reading it, if it’s got that magnetism of theme and plot, big characters and disturbing events, depraved controlling men in this case, abduction and even a hint of murder.  You are sucked into it unwittingly from the very first opening sentence and you can’t leave until you are done.

Even when you are dissatisfied with the ending and saddened that all is not resolved for Sally, you are left with a conundrum of a twist in the reappearance of a toy bear that started it all off!! 

This is Strange Sally Diamond.

10 of us read and marked the book, 9 of us discussed it in our club.

Average score was 4 out of 5.

A lively discussion ensued due to its relevance here on real life cases where whole families are destroyed by the depraved actions of one person, and repercussions felt throughout.

There are shades of The Maid (Nita Prose) in Sally, in her quirkiness thus providing us with the only spots of humour in the book ! Also Room (Emma Donoghue) where the long lost daughter escapes from captivity only to have her child who was born during that time totally rejected by the girls family.

Did we “love”the book? 

We rewrote Sally’s end story.

Everyone needs a break !! 

Valerie Lynch Kelly.

Someone Else’s Shoes, by JoJo Moyes

A heartwarming story, not contrived, credible, and an easy read.

So say our Book Club members, overall score 3 .5 out of 5.

It has an interesting theme: What happens, on different levels, when two people accidentally swap and wear “someone else’s shoes” .

Nisha and Sam, poles apart in lifestyle now, but not too dissimilar in early life, are in the gym and both rushing, grab the wrong bag each.

Interestingly both don’t actually meet until halfway through the book. Meanwhile we get absorbed into their separate lives now, all because of a missing pair of Louboutins! 

Sam, wearing Nisha’s said Louboutins feels powerful, assertive, confidant, attributes not usually felt by her, which are further reinforced by the reaction of the business men she is dealing with. With a “tilt and extension of an ankle” and letting a “shoe strap slide down a heel” results positively financially, and ensures there will be more business transactions to follow !

Nisha on the other hand, wearing the “black, clumpy shoes” looks and feels as downtrodden as the other people she sees wearing similar footwear.

There’s the usual eclectic mix of characters from the “martyr” Sam who is always trying to please everyone except herself, the ill person Andrea, who is also a very kind one, Jasmine being the woman of colour, working hard for poor wages and sharing all she has .

Phil is depressed and in therapy, and Nisha the poor girl turned rich girl turned spurned, cheated upon wife, penniless again now.

Sam’s boss the overbearing “grade A wanker” according to Sam’s very supportive work mates . Then we have the cheating, abusive, criminal husband. Nisha does have one great male friend Alek who cooks her food to ease her stress. She also has a son who is gay, young, and vulnerable.

The eventual returning of the shoes to Nisha is a bit drawn out, needlessly, but then the real importance of the Louboutins becomes clear!! 

There’s a bit of a too neat ending, but the main characters are so likeable we all felt that it was justified. 

  Valerie Lynch Kelly.