Saturday, April 25, 2009 7:01 PM
Well, we had quite a small turnout on Thursday but still a good meeting!
Just to sum up our thoughts on the book: we were pretty much all in agreement that the book was darker, more bizarre and more complexly structured than we thought it would be going in -- and that it could have done with being less so. Not all of us were sure that we would have persevered with it had it not been for a group read, but nonetheless felt we got something out of the reading experience.
The parts we enjoyed most were the letters from Catullus to his brother and we felt we would have liked to have more of that period. We also enjoyed reading about the advent of printing and its arrival in Venice. We enjoyed the fact that the book's setting, fifteenth century Venice, is not one we've typically come across in historical novels before, so it was worthwhile because of that.
On the whole, however, we found the book somewhat hard-going in places given that so few of the characters were remotely sympathetic. We also felt it could have benefited from having fewer characters and strands to the plot. Some of us enjoyed the poetic language, but felt it tapered off after the beginning.
Those of you who read the book but weren't able to make it, please feel free to send us all a message with your views on the book.
By the way, if you want to read another novel on the history of printing, I recommend "The Justification of Johan Gutenberg" by Blake Morrison. It's not currently in print, but it was published not so long ago and is easily available in the usual places.
For our next meetup, we decided to hold it mid-June - so I will set up a poll over the next couple of days with some suggested dates.
We also decided that we would definitely have a LIGHT read for our next book!! So please send me your suggestions for historical novels that should be easier (even fluffier) reads. Once I have a few good candidates, I'll set up a poll for that.
As regards the venue, the Barbican Centre, we all felt it was suitable and we should stick with it, at least for the next meeting. The first floor, where we met, is quite quiet and we were able to sit in a nice sofa area. But there are plenty of other areas within the centre where we could relocate to, even outside by the water when the weather is warm.
Please vote in the polls when they're set up and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible next time. In the meantime, happy reading - and feel free to let us know what you're currently reading or recommending!