I must bring you news of the other 'School' themed reads from our last Endsleigh Salon evening, because I'd hate you to think we'd just languished around wishing we'd been at Malory Towers, or were thankful we'd missed out on the Abbey School and the Morris dancing.
The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury, very 1970's bohemian with every kind of 'ism' going on which as I recall, having lived through it, must have been at least feminism and pacifism and I'm sure you can think of a few more. The book seemed to be 75% dialogue, a series of impressions and from where I was sitting the print looked tiny, but Rebecca had read it and enjoyed as I recall, though wasn't quite head over heels about it.
Tom Brown's Schooldays by Thomas Hughes and published in 1857 proved very disappointing and perhaps offered a good example of a novel whose imagery is more often gathered from the watching of the film rather than the reading of the book.
Who can forget that little chap being roasted by nasty Flashman.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt might have been that old favourite, a room divider...
'Oh I loved that book.
'Oh God, the worst book I've ever read.'
But if there was any doubt about that one dividing the room you should have seen the ranks take up arms over Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
We do actually say far more than that and there was a great debate about why we'd hated it, loved it and all those other things about both books. Linda and I were sadly united in our dislike, for style, some irritating narrative devices and characters in Never Let Me Go, whilst the village contingent (there are so many of them they could do with a bus now) were unanimous in their admiration.
It's clearly a geographical thing but I have a reread scheduled just in case my current Kazuo Ishiguro revisit can shed new light, because I had read it in the midst of a Bookerthon, often not the most propitious way for a book to endear itself to me. It may sadly however be curtains for Linda with Kazuo though I was more than persuasive about A Pale View of Hills and said nice things about The Remains of the Day too, with tempting snippets about Dartmoor and Tavistock and Creber's all getting a mention therin.
Looking to Chillaton for some moral support...no, they hadn't been as impressed with The Remains of the Day.
Sorry Kazuo, I tried but you win some you lose some.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark was on the other hand unanimously received with praise on all sides of the salon.
The Dead School by Patrick McCabe had its reader very exercised in the describing of; bleak but very funny, sort of Father Ted meets Quentin Tarantino and set against a backdrop of the early 1970s, the troubles in N.Ireland and two parallel lives which cross.The final verdict was a great read.
The Piano Teacher by Janice YK Lee proved to be nothing to do with schools at all but had been a good read however Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi was added in by its reader as the most fantastic read. All added to by her visits to Tehran and the university in the past and how it really felt to wear a burkah and, as we never stop a discussion trail leading wherever it wants to, interesting debate followed about the life and the restrictions then and the current political climate.
Thinks by David Lodge sadly had its reader surrendering at page seventy something and moving swiftly on we all agreed that Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones, which was the fall back option, was a truly beautiful and clever book that could happily have lost its ending and were it possible, been even better.
Lastly The Finishing School by Muriel Spark... and we all thought oh great, what better way to end, that'll be two brilliant Muriels in one evening then, but sadly it was not to be. The Finishing School felt like a very insubstantial read to its reader, riven as it was with themes of jealousy, satire and middle-class values.
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