Wednesday, December 10, 2008 7:27 PM
Thanks to everyone who came last night. Not a huge turnout: only five of us. But an improvement on last time and definitely a sizeable enough group for a lively and worthwhile discussion. Personally, I'm enjoying the opportunity to discuss a book that's really fresh in my mind with others who've also just read it, and I'm sure we'll keep on growing from here.
For those who couldn't make it, here's a brief summary of our discussions.
All of us liked, really liked or even loved the book. I think we all acknowledged that it had some flaws, such as the narrative structure (which some of us felt didn't quite work in parts, with a shifting point of view) and some of the anachronisms (most of us enjoyed some of the playfulness here, but most felt they were somewhat overdone). In terms of plot and character, we felt it was perhaps a little too partisan: Harold and the rest of the English were painted very positively, whilst Norman society was depicted much more negatively and William in particular was presented almost as a buffoon, whereas in reality he must have been a much more competent and charismatic leader. There were somewhat differing views on the success of the part of the book's plot that related to Walt's wanderings in Asia Minor; some of us enjoyed those parts, others felt they would have preferred the plot to have stuck with the story in England.
But, overall, we enjoyed the engaging and earthy depiction of the era and its key characters, which we felt generally rang true. For the one reader who was completely unfamiliar with this era of English history, the book was successful at sparking an interest in finding out more about the period -- which is, of course, what we would hope a historical novel to do.
So, overall, it seemed to have been a successful choice for a group read.
If anyone else who didn't come along managed to read the book, feel free to add your voice to the discussion!
Venue-wise, we were all happy sticking with it. The staff made us feel welcome. Whilst there were customers wandering around, it didn't get in the way of our discussions and the location remains suitable for everyone.
Date-wise, we all agreed to leave it now till the first half of February.
I will therefore soon set up a poll to choose a suitable date in February, and the next stage will then be to choose the book and I will again invite everyone to send direct to me their suggestions of books they've enjoyed and feel might be suitable. By the way, we all agreed that it would be OK to put forward books that are not currently in print provided they are easily and affordably available in the usual online stores.
Thanks again to everyone who came along.
Happy reading till we meet again - and do feel free to post comments on what you're reading (whether historical fiction or not) or start a discussion on anything reasonably topically related.
And season's greetings, of course.