Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Marvellous Monday Book Group: 14th March

The weather on
Monday evening
was disappointingly
benign. No rain
lashed against the
(single glazed)
window panes
of Mr B's,the wind
was absent and the
temperature almost
balmy. We were
gathered to discuss
Charlie Connelly's Attention All Shipping - a travelogue charting the mystical, poetic and remote place names of the Radio 4 institution that is The Shipping Forecast. The book is divided into segments, almost as though Charlie was having to complete his odyssey on his odd weekends off - however - everyone agreed that this meant the book could be dipped into and out of very easily and that the bite size anecdotes were perfect for reading aloud. We felt that we probably learnt more about Charlie himself than the places that he visited (and the fantastical back story of his great grandfather's relationship with the sea is really not to be missed), but as he was such a witty and amiable guide, it didn't seem to matter. There were some genuinely curious historical facts and stories thrown up by his travels, but perhaps the most absorbing bits were the people and communities that he encountered, from the hardy Norwegians on the tiny, North Sea Utsira island to the canoodling mecca that is Plymouth Hoe. It was noted that the journalistic style was occasionally a little too... well, 'blustery' - but overall this is an engaging, informative and funny read. And has it lampooned our romantic ideas of the shipping forecast locations? Not a bit!

Next up, on Monday 18th April is George Rodenbach's Bruges La Morte, first published in 1892 and what looks like a deeply atmospheric study of loss set against the backdrop of a beautiful, decaying city. sweeten the mood, we are promised genuine Belgian chocolates whilst we discuss! Perfect. Copies are now available from the shop. [Lucinda]

1 comment:

Susanne said...

I really enjoyed Attention All Shipping. I first read it more than 4 years ago and was pleasantly surprised as to how well it stood up to re-reading for the book group. It is not a treatise on the shipping forecast which may disappoint some who want a more scholarly work but it is fun romp around bits of the UK and Europe - some of which you are unlikely to come across in any other context!