Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Ask the Author - James Long

Mr B's Marvellous Monday Book Group was packed out at the last meeting to discuss the intriguing "Ferney". The author James Long was then kind enough to take time out of writing the sequel (you heard it here first!) to answer some of our group's questions. Thank you, James.

Mr B - Many book group members didn’t find the character Ferney particularly likeable. Some people thought that maybe he should have stepped up to the plate and killed himself at the point that Gally was murdered rather than be now pressuring her into a future suicide to synchronise their life spans. Do you think that’s fair or do you feel more sympathetically towards Ferney now your creation is complete?

James - He's an old curmudgeon. Wouldn't you be? I would hate to be sentenced to limitless lives. He's not nearly as generous minded as Gally which is perhaps another reason why he needs her so much. She is the only thing that makes life bearable. Of course, at that point he doesn't know she has been murdered for sure and goes on hoping. I might come back to that. See below. You are about to meet him as a young man.

Mr B - How did the writing/planning process begin for “Ferney”, was it with the relationship between the characters or the historical ideas?

James - See below. It started with the house. I wrote a version of the story, put it away for many years then rewrote it completely. In that time, Ferney had grown into a character who always inhabited a corner of my mind. I didn't know the full, remarkable history of Penselwood until I began to research it the second time around.

Mr B - The group were intrigued by the strong focus on the location of Penselwood and wondered first whether the house itself is really there and secondly whether there was really a Constable painting of Penselwood.

James - Yes, there really is a house. I've moved the location a little to protect it but it is on the outskirts of the village though it is now little more than a ruin. I was taken to it by a friend more than thirty years ago when it still had a roof and I tried to buy it - more or less as described in the book except the extraordinary old lady who owned it would not sell it. The house itself had a feeling about it which inspired the whole story. I go back there from time to time to say hello to it as it moulders away. There is no Constable painting, I'm afraid, but he did spend time in the area. The Constable section is based on his correspondence. We know when he was in the area, what he was doing and what was worrying him at the time. There are a few days when he was at Gillingham when he 'goes missing'. He could have been at Penselwood ...

Mr B - A group member had heard rumour of a sequel. We’d be intrigued to know if that is or has ever been on your mind.

James - Yes. I'm writing it right now. In fact, I shouldn't really be distracting myself by replying to this, but I've done 1,500 words today so far so it makes a good break.

Mr B - If there isn’t going to be a sequel, book group members would love to know whether you think Gally is now going to commit suicide (after the book’s twisty conclusion)? Or is that up to the reader to decide?!

James - Patience. Wait for the sequel.

Mr B - What do you think is in store for you after your own demise? Do you believe, or want to believe, in reincarnation?

James - I am entirely open-minded. I am inclined to believe in a Buddhist type of reincarnation, the variety in which we are all sparks returning to some central energy. If I come back I don't expect to have any direct memories of past lives but I have experienced that in other people just two or three times in ways I find hard to deny

Monday, 1 September 2008

Team B Reads the Bookers - Part 2: Child 44

I wasn't sure about this book at first - it's a little gruesome to start with - but by the end I found it unputdownable. The plot is cleverly constructed to give you tantalising glimpses of the denouement, never quite enough to allow you (or me, at any rate!) to guess what's going to happen but enough to keep you reading.

Set in the Soviet Union in the 1950s, the novel focusses on an agent in the State Security department. He is loyal, dedicated and hard-working, an exemplary employee of a cruel and barbaric regime. But events take an unexpected turn... And I won't say any more because I'd hate to spoil it. The backdrop is evocative - gritty and harsh with a distinct lack of human compassion - and the fact that elements of the book are based on actual events is quite scary!

All in all a good thriller which I'd recommend to anyone who likes a well-written, plot-driven novel.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Team B Reads the Bookers - Part 1: Netherland

Hello, hello. As some of us here at Team B are dipping our reading toes into the Booker Prize long list we thought we'd share our views on the contenders here on the Blog of Bloggy Delights. There's no way we'll get through them all before the long list becomes the short list early next month, but what we do read, we'll write about here.

I finished Netherland by Joseph O'Neill last week. Early doors, it was the bookies favourite to scoop the Booker Prize. Not sure if that's still the case. The novel focusses on a Dutch banker named Hans who's living in New York with his English lawyer wife and young son. September 2001 comes and Hans' wife quickly goes...scurrying back to the supposed safety of England with their child.

Left alone in New York with a fragile marriage based on frequent trans-atlantic travel, Hans spends his time moping around his temporary home in the notorious Chelsea Hotel and becoming involved with a cricket team consisting primarily of Pakistanis, Indians and West Indians. One of those cricketers is the enigmatic going-on-weird Chuck Ramkisoon, a West Indian with a bizarre field-of-dreams like vision of creating a cricketing empire in New York.

Hans is gradually drawn into Chuck's dream in what I found to be an annoyingly passive fashion (for a high-earning banker he really did seem to be an easily led character) whilst occasionally remembering to spend some time thinking about rescuing his marriage.

It's a clever novel and one with stacks of atmosphere. It's also one of the best looks at the slow-burn impact of 9/11 on the lives of New Yorkers that I've read. The early chapters on the expat cricketing scene in New York are also excellent. But, overall, for me the book lacked anything to keep me hooked. Hans becomes ever-more self-absorbed and morose and I didn't really care whether what happened to his marriage or to Chuck or to his friendship with Chuck. There was just too much motionless musings by Hans rather than anything really actually happening and even when things weren't happening Hans' musings and the descriptive parts weren't enough to keep me turning the pages particularly enthusiastically.

So that's that. Bear in mind it's a review of something touted as favourite for the Booker Prize so I am thinking about it against high expectations. It's a good novel and at times the writing is superb, but it really didn't do it for me overall. [Nic]

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Ask the Author - Bethan Roberts

Mr B's Marvellous Monday Book Group read Bethan Roberts' "The Pools" in July. Bethan was then kind enough to have an e-chat with Mr B to answer some of the questions/comments that were made by book group members. Heaps of thanks to Bethan for giving us some great answers. You can see what she says below and if you'd like to hear more from her about The Pools and her brand new book "The Good Plain Cook" then click here for information on her reading at Mr B's on 11th September, 2008.

Mr B - We were interested to know whether it was the crux of the plot or the key characters that came first in the writing process. Particularly as The Pools is your first novel, we wondered what drove the writing process for you?

Bethan - I'd like to say it was the characters, as I often bang on to my students about how everything in a story – plot, setting, tone, theme etc – comes from characters. But I have to admit that the plot ― or rather the plot outline ― came first with this book (I don't think the plot has ever come first for anything else I've written, though).

I started with a true story, in fact. When I was nine years old, a boy in a neighbouring village went missing, and about a week later his body was found in one of the flooded gravel pits near his house. According to newspaper reports from the time, he'd been stabbed 20 times in the back by an older boy. It was a horrific incident, one that burned itself onto my memory because it was the first time I became aware that such things happened –children went missing and didn't come back.

I suppose it haunted me for a long time because I found that, when I was studying for an MA in creative writing at Chichester University, I wanted to write about it, to fictionalise it, to imagine the stories around such an event. I suppose it's an attempt to explain something that I find very frightening. I think quite a bit of writing comes from this impulse – the impulse to imagine the worst, and then write about it as a way of kind of 'working out' the fear. As I wrote, I found, though, that the (entirely fictional) characters drove the plot forward, and I got further away from the original true story and deeper into the novel.

Mr B - The character that caused most debate was Howard. I think he was the character that book group members felt they had got to know most closely. Following on from the first question really, was Howard a starting point for you? Did you think your readers would like him or feel sorry for him or do you tend not to guess/concern yourself overly with possible reader reactions?

Bethan - I'm really glad you felt you got to know Howard well. For me, it is Howard's book. Once I had his voice, I had a 'way in' to the novel, so he was a starting point, yes. (I actually tried to write the story from Robert's point of view first, but this didn't work. The story seemed to need to be told from a more oblique angle). The only reader's reaction that I think about when I'm writing is my own (which also includes, of course, the imaginary readers who stand behind me, looking over my shoulder – old teachers, my poet husband, members of my wonderful writing workshop) - I think I'd drive myself a bit mad if I tried to think of anyone else's!

Readers' contrasting reactions to Howard have startled me, though – some seem to find him 'creepy', others feel very sympathetic towards him. I can't really judge him – it's not for me to do that – but I do have a lot of sympathy for Howard, even though his world-view is rather limited, to say the least.

Mr B- Someone in the book group referred to Joanna as a "Tart with a Heart" during the book group discussion, and we then debated whether she really had much of a heart after all. I certainly felt she was borderline amoral in some episodes. How do you feel about her?

Bethan - I'm glad she provoked debate! Again, I don't feel it's the writer's place to judge her. If you judge characters you kill them (it's all right for a reader to do it, but a writer has to cling on to every breath a character takes and nurture them unconditionally…). You just have to try to bring them to life, with all their complexities and contradictions. Joanna is, I would say, very confused. She's at a point in her life where she's got a lot of sexual power and she doesn't really understand the consequences of that power. She doesn't have much self-knowledge yet, I suppose. And neither does Howard, of course.

Mr B - Do you consider the town to be as much a character in the book as the human characters? Many people commented on how well you described the bleak 1980's small-town semi-industrial landscape including the Pools themselves. Did you have to work just as hard in creating the character of the place as of the individuals?

Bethan - Yes. I'm really pleased that people enjoyed the bleak industrial landscape! I enjoyed writing it. Setting is very important for me. Elizabeth Bowen said, "nothing happens nowhere" and I would agree with this. It's impossible to tell a good story without a strong sense of where that story is taking place. Your characters have to act out their story in a particular place, and this place often throws light on who they are and what they are feeling.

Mr B - A word that came up repeatedly when considering the atmosphere of The Pools was "sinister" and "uncomfortable". Would you agree with that and, if so, was it your intention to create that atmosphere?

Bethan - Great! It worked! Yes, absolutely, I was aiming for menace. I was aiming for tension. I was aiming to make the reader uncomfortable enough to want to know what was really going on. I was aiming to write a good tale that would keep them turning the pages, really. I hope it wasn't too relentlessly bleak, though!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Watch the Ball

Watch the video carefully to count how many times the white team passes the ball. Watch the vid NOW before you scroll down to the spoiler below the video screen.

Don't Sneaky Peek
Don't Sneaky Peek
Don't Sneaky Peek
Don't Sneaky Peek
Don't Sneaky Peek
Don't Sneaky Peek
Don't Sneaky Peek

Okay, nearly time to Sneaky Peak

Okay, here's the answer -

So, how many did you count? It doesn't really matter. What really matters is whether you saw the man in the (book)monkey suit walk into the room halfway through. I've seen this shown in two different conference rooms and in each case 90% didn't see the cheeky chimp. Check out "Quirkology" by Richard Wiseman for loads more funky "science in our everyday lives" stuff.

Thursday, 22 May 2008


Meet Socks - a Christmas-Sock-Monkey and Wodehouse fan purchased from Mr B's by a good customer of ours, Regina. He has kindly taken time out from reading to send his congrats to us from his laptop.
Thanks Socks although isn't it time to take off the scarf and party hat - it's nearly summer!

Friday, 16 May 2008

Mr B's wins Independent Bookshop of the Year 2008!!

Woooohooo! We won 2008 Independent Bookshop of the Year at this year’s British Book Awards in Brighton last Tuesday night. The award is based on a mix of the votes of our wonderful customers, secret shopper scores and our submission document requiring us to explain every aspect of our business in 1000 words and was then judged by a panel of industry experts including Jacqueline Wilson. As we said when accepting it, this is our customers' trophy really so thank you to everyone for their loyal loyal custom without which we would be nothing but a lot of very full shelves in a backstreet in Bath.

Listen again to Mr B harping on about the nibbie on BBC Radio Bristol here (fastforward to around 5.45pm) and on BBC Radio Somerset here (fastforward to around 6.15pm). If only GWR Bath had a listen-again facility you could listen to him there too (bad luck, eh!).

Oh, and you can see and comment on what the Bath Chronicle had to say, right here

Friday, 25 April 2008

Ask The Author - A.L.Kennedy (Day)

Mr B's Tremendous Tuesday Book Group read A.L.Kennedy's "Day" shortly after it had won the 2007 Costa Book of the Year Award. Mr B had an e-chat with the author to get her answers to some questions posed during the book group discussion. Everyone at Mr B's would like to thank Alison for answering the questions for us and Chloƫ at Random House for making this interview possible:

Mr B - Alfred is portrayed as a flawed character but does he actually have many real flaws? As a group we ended up thinking that he isn’t really as flawed as he’d have us believe (as shown by how much others – Skip, Pluckrose etc – seem to value him). Other than being prone to murder of course!

A.L.K - Yes, murder is a bit of a drawback, but he is very specific in his murdering. Unless you look at the morality of area bombing - which I think he has become more troubled by as time has passed and he's talked to Ivor. But he is, as you say, a man that others can warm to. I think he's very loyal to his friends and can be very loving. He would probably assume that someone he loves will die - which would disturb him - and he'd be aware that his nerves are very frayed, so he's not that good at strangers, or loud noises, or stress. And I would imagine he gets into, at least verbal, fights quite easily. But generally, a decent man doing his best in odd circumstances.

Mr B - The structure of the book and the way we follow Alfred’s thought-processes back to his four or five memory areas (the crew, his family, the bookshop, Joyce etc) caused lots of discussion. I think the biggest question we had for you as an author was where did you start once you’d decided to use that style? Did you write the book in a very different sequence to the end-result?

A.L.K - I wrote the book in the sequence you meet. If you think about it the chronology just happens to be emotional rather than temporal - it's still a chronology. We go from early to late in what he remembers (that's completely conventional really) and from intimate to less intimate, depending on what he can stand to feel. When I set out, I only had an idea of who Alfred was and what he could stand to think about. I knew he wouldn't open up early and that the frame of the piece was based in the fake POW camp. Everything really came from Alfred and the fact that WWII was enormous - then I worked out from there. It took about 3 years to prepare, so I had a while to think.

Mr B - Another point that came out of the structure was that people had found they really had to concentrate hard in the first few chapters in order to follow the flitting of Alfred’s thoughts between times and story areas that they were not yet familiar with. Then, as you get to know Alfred and his references better, it becomes “easier” to follow. Did you set out to immerse your readers immediately into Alfred’s viewpoint and were you conscious that the early pages may make more difficult reading than the later ones as a result?

A.L.K - I do tend not to compromise when I open up a book and I thought with this one - because I have to take you so far into somewhere really unpleasant, it would be best to get you used to concentrating and trying to reach Alfred and go with him - so when people start dying and bombs start droping you're going to be there for him. With a 3rd person book that covers so much ground it seemed a way to create as much intensity and intimacy as possible - given that intensity would define most of his wartime experiences.

Mr B's - We were intrigued by Joyce’s relationship with Alfred. She seemed quite a predatory character and some people wondered what she saw in him? What do you think attracted Joyce to Alfred?

A.L.K - I always liked Joyce, but I couldn't really bend the book out of shape to make it about her as well - Alfred does love her but he just has so much else on his mind. I think Joyce was in a very hard position - she clicked with Alfred (these wartime romances often did fire up very quickly) but she was married to someone who was almost certainly dead and whom she had married in haste. She seems to have socialist leanings and to be keen to escape her own set. She knits for him, which I think is an indication of something - clearly she's an awful knitter. I managed to allow her to explain herself a little at the end - how difficult it was effectively waiting for two people and knowing so little about what would happen. She's a bit fast, but I think she would try her best for Alfred and their relationship might work.

Mr B - One of our book group members thought that the overriding message or moral of the book might be in Ivor Sand’s monologue near the end of the book where he talks about people not being scum. Is there an overriding message and if so what would you say it is?

A.L.K - My overriding message is always that people aren't scum - although I very rarely have someone around like Ivor who lectures and can say such things. There's a sense of the complication and awfulness of war - that human potential can be appalling and war releases it - that guilt is difficult and justice can fail. But I'd be happy with "people aren't scum" yes.

Mr B - The group were interested in your motivations behind writing the novel. The tagline on the reverse of the book praises the book “particularly” because it’s written by “a woman born in 1965”. Did you set yourself the challenge of writing a novel about WW2 and then create the character and decide to follow his story, or did you start with Day as a character and then choose to place him in a WW2 setting? Or something else entirely?!

A.L.K - The impetus for the book came from 3 areas. 1) I've always been interested in that period and I worked for quite a while in elderly care homes and just think that generation was remarkable. 2) I was preparing the book while we ploughed off into a very different war, still pursuing the idea that area bombing is acceptable and practical as a war policy. I wanted to look at the moral ambivalnec of even a just war, while we pursue an unjust war, betray the war time generation who gave us the welfare state and follow policies which, in some cases, are the reverse of WWII's "what we're fighting for" 3) I read a 1949 magazine article about the filing of the movie "The Wooden Horse" - using former POW's as extras. I wanted to know why someone would go back in that way and what would happen when they did. Other people's ideas of what male or female people should write or what age they should be... all those things don't really interest me. If an idea arrives, it's my job to serve it as well as possible - to prevent the ideas behind it from going elsewhere.

Do let us know what you think of the book and the author's answers by adding a comment. If you haven't read it yet, you can buy a copy of "Day" from Mr B's by clicking HERE.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Ask the Author - Patrick Gale (Notes from an Exhibition)

Patrick Gale - Notes from an Exhibition

Mr B's Marvellous Monday Book Group met to discuss "Notes from an Exhibition" on 3rd March, 2008. Afterwards Mr B had a chat with Patrick by e-mail to get his thoughts on some of the questions that were raised that evening:

Mr B - Is Anthony intended to be an idealistic character to contrast with a family full of individuals who mostly seem to be flawed in one way or another?

Patrick Gale - Oh I’d be very wary of idealistic character portrayal because it wouldn’t rest easily in a realistic setting. However Anthony is an idealist and, as such, flawed as well though the flaws are harder to spot perhaps. As I see it his big weakness is Rachel. His mother died – the thickly veiled implication being that it was suicide brought on by depression – when he was still young and I imagined that the boy of such a woman would grow up needing to redeem his failure to save her by striving to save women like her. In short, he’d have a weakness for damaged femininity. But he ends by putting his wife before his children, which I think is a pretty big flaw, and he should feel very guilty indeed for the way in which he has failed Morwenna. It’s often the way, though, that people who are essentially kind and gentle appear relatively perfect alongside their noisier, more self-consciously flawed neighbours! Like Petroc’s, by the way, his Quakerism is instinctive whereas Garfield’s tends to be dutiful, which is why Anthony seems genuinely good whereas poor Garfield emerges as a bit of a prig and a hypocrite.

Mr B - Is the way that you build the story up in an abstract fashion (jumping in time and almost dipping into episodes in the characters’ lives) intended to reflect Rachel’s artwork? If that’s just us reading too much into it, then maybe the more open question is whether you had any particular reason or intention behind the choice of the book’s structure?

Patrick Gale - I knew from the start I wanted to structure it like this. My hope was to produce chapters that would be as self-contained as short stories but which would form a bigger image when placed alongside one another. I wasn’t so much aiming to echo Rachel’s art as to echo the way in which her art might be gathered together and displayed after her life, almost as pieces of brightly glowing evidence. (Funnily enough, though, the idea for the Notes tying it all together came very late and these were the last sections I wrote.) I’ve long believed that the best fiction tries to reveal an emotional truth and emotional truths are best arrived at from multiple “camera angles” or testimonies. I’ve done something similar, though with far less radical time schemes, in many of my earlier novels – something that reveals the heavy influence on me of the work of Iris Murdoch, especially when I was starting out. I like the idea that the reader alone is in a position to understand a situation fully, that the reader plays a sort of cross between god and a detective.

Mr B - Can you give us any insight into the symbolism of the stones and in particular the way they are thrown from the window? One stone is broken or damaged in some way….whose is that stone?

Patrick Gale - The stones start out as crudely representing the different family members for Petroc, with a hint that, with the sharp eye of childhood, he has seen truths about his family that might be uncomfortable. I wanted to imply that, following Petroc’s death, Rachel has instinctively gathered the stones about her as she has (usually) failed to gather her own loved ones. Her last painting sequence is a reflection of this; a final statement of deep knowledge and love. At the end, though, the stones become nothing more than weapons. I imagined in her final frenzy that her delusion that BGH was watching her or had come for her became unbearably frightening and that she had thrown the stones at “her” in self-defence – hence the broken window - and also thrown the bracelet-turned-hairclip in the hope that GBH would be appeased by it and leave her alone. As for who is the most damaged stone, that’s for the reader to decide!

Mr B - The book introduces us to lots of intriguing characters in some depth but leaves us to fill in the rest of their story from the views of others. Would you ever plan on revisiting any of the characters and developing them further?

Patrick Gale - Absolutely not! I left loads out on purpose because I thought that the more the reader had to join the dots, the more deeply they would find themselves involved or even implicated in the unfurling story. That said I’m finding them a very tough bunch of characters to leave behind me as I struggle to start another novel about completely different people. In the past I’ve often revisited characters but rarely to do more than grant a playful glimpse of their “lives” continuing in the background of someone else’s story. An amusing exception is Roly the sculptor who first appeared in my very first novel, The Aerodynamics of Pork. I’d always felt he was a wafer thin sex symbol and needed fleshing out. So I brought him back, older and wiser, in Rough Music, only to find he was still a wafer thin sex symbol. I fear this speaks volumes about the fragile relationship between sexiness and genuine knowledge of a person!

Mr B - There was much discussion about the ending and what made you end with Petroc. Given the great “jigsaw” structure you chose for the novel was it difficult to choose how to end it? Oh, and who killed Petroc? We had some conspiracy theories!

Patrick Gale - Funnily enough I wasn’t sure how I was going to “end” the novel – not least because I didn’t write the chapters in anything approaching either chronological order or the order in which they ultimately appeared – until I came to write the chapter in which the long lost sister comes to Penzance. Only then, having written what in effect is the book’s happy ending, did I sense that shouldn’t come at the end. On one level Petroc’s death is the novel’s dark heart, the event by which most of the other characters remain scarred for life. However I wanted to offer comfort and I wanted to show on a very basic level how Quakerism works. Petroc doesn’t know it’s the night of his death. For him, it’s the start of his adult life, and in the actually quite blissful and visionary minutes before his death, I wanted to show him achieving a vision of his family in which they were healed. As for how he died, he was struck by Spencer Young’s speeding car and flung against an old milk churn stand. I imagined that Spencer dropped Morwenna off at home in a hysterical state then speeded back to the party to find Troy and acquire an alibi but that Morwenna came clean and gave evidence against him for driving under the influence of drink and drugs and for doing a hit-and-run on her brother. Spencer did time in prison on the evidence which her testimony brought to light but she has continued to blame herself, and Rachel has blamed her too. I started to spell all this out then realized it was really quite dulll – at least, it belonged to a different sort of novel. What mattered to me was the damage, not how it was arrived at…

Mr B - Oh and one final one from me. Although the book is all about Rachel it struck me that it was really about parentage/inheritance (you seem to hint clearly which children have inherited what characteristics from whom and there are lots of “illegitimate” children around!). Was that a major aim or was the primary aim to explore this remarkable character and the more obvious themes of the Quaker religion and the impact of an illness like Rachel’s? (By the way my conspiracy theory is that by having Garfield and his wife finally conceive shortly after his trip away you’re hinting to us that this may be yet another illegitimate child on its way! Any comments?)

Patrick Gale - Oh yes. It’s very much about inheritance, with the considerable worth of Rachel’s unsold art balanced out by the heavy inheritance of guilt, mental illness and damage the children get from her. In a funny sort of way I didn’t intend the book to be just about Rachel. It was meant to be about the family as a whole and what makes a family and whether legitimacy matters more than parenting and so on. It was just that Rachel’s character was so vast and noisy that she sort of took over. I don’t tend to think in terms of themes when I’m writing, though. I just concentrate on character and story and themes seem to emerge from that. Nothing sinister about Garfield and Lizzy’s impending baby. I merely imagined that his night of, erm, instruction in Oxford greatly improved his sexual technique which in turn improved relations between him and Lizzy etc etc.

Let us know what you think of the book/Patrick's answers by adding a comment.
If you haven't read it yet, you can buy a copy of Patrick's book from Mr B's by clicking HERE

The World Really Doesn't Need Another Blog

I think I read somewhere that it's been estimated that if blogs keep appearing at current rates by 2014 the internet will be full and we'll all have to go back to talking to one another. Still, here's another one. We feel justified in creating it because it's the ideal forum for our new "Ask the Author" thingummy.

Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights has two book groups - the Marvellous Monday Book Group and the Tremendous Tuesday Book Group - which each meet every 5 or 6 weeks at the bookshop at 14/15 John St in Bath. The books that we read are chosen by the members and the membership is open. You can read all about the groups and join them by clicking here.

Where possible we've now started putting a few questions to the authors of the books that the Book Groups read. The questions are things that come up at the Book Group meetings. By posting the questions and author answers those in the Book Group, those who couldn't make the meeting, those who are waiting for an improvement in the housing market so they can move to Bath to be nearer Mr B's and its book groups and anyone else in the big wide world, can read what the author had to say and, if they wish, continue discussing the book too.

Hope you like the idea. The first "Ask the Author" post is on its way!