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For our December book, we have chosen a book from the current Booker Prize 2020 shortlist, "Shuggie Bain" by Douglas Stuart. A heartbreaking story of addiction, sexuality, and love, Shuggie Bain is an epic portrayal of a working-class family that is rarely seen in fiction. Recalling the work of Edouard Louis, Alan Hollinghurst, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, it is a blistering debut by a brilliant novelist who has a powerful and important story to tell. Shuggie Bain is the unforgettable story of young Hugh "Shuggie" Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher's policies have put husbands and sons out of work, and the city's notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings. Shuggie's mother Agnes walks a wayward path: she is Shuggie's guiding light but a burden for him and his siblings. Under the surface, Agnes finds increasing solace in drink, and she drains away the lion's share of all the family has to live on, buying cans of extra-strong lager which are hidden in handbags and poured into tea mugs. Shuggie is meanwhile struggling to somehow become the normal boy he desperately longs to be, but everyone has realized that he is "no right," a boy with a secret that all but him can see. Agnes is supportive of her son, but her addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her, even her beloved Shuggie. If you are coming to the Meet Up, we welcome recommendations for our next book. In December, we'll be choosing the book for March and we've decided to pick a non-fiction book. Be prepared to "promote" your choice against other offerings as we vote on which we will read.
2020 has been an "unusual" year so we are going to make 2021 unusual in a good way for the Book Club. We have decided to have a meeting in January. This will be an informal get together for a general discussion about our love of books. We have not set a book to be read but instead, we will have a general chat about such things as; - My favourite book of all time - too difficult? Okay - favourite three - Media - E-books versus audible versus the real thing - How I got into reading - The book you just could not finish and why - Self publishing - does it deteriorate the standard of literature? - Books made into films, the good, the bad and the ugly And anything else we decide to talk about… Slight caveat - Circa Theatre have not yet published their Jan 2021 programme. We'll confirm in due course.
For our February book, we have chosen "The Beekeeper of Aleppo" by Christy Lefteri. Brought up in London, the author is the child of Cypriot refugees. The Beekeeper of Aleppo was born out of her time working as a volunteer at a UNICEF-supported refugee centre in Athens. The unforgettable love story of a mother blinded by loss and her husband who insists on their survival as they undertake the Syrian refugee trail to Europe. Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo--until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees. As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all, they must journey to find each other again. Moving, powerful, compassionate, and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. It is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling. If you are coming to the Meet Up, we welcome recommendations for our next book. Be prepared to "promote" your choice against other offerings as we vote on which we will read. We also ask for a gold coin donation to our running costs.