Our book club: August 2013

It was our book club night last Thursday and as usual we had a really good time. The book on the table on this occasion was Sweet Tooth, by Ian McEwan and we really did talk about it this time, since it’s been doing the rounds for some time. Our eternal problem is that we never have enough copies and so it takes ages for a book to go round the group. Obviously, having a kindle would help with this but only 1 of our group does, at least so far. So some of us had read it ages ago, others just recently, but what helped enormously was the Guardian Podcast where Ian McEwan is interviewed on the subject of Sweet Tooth. It’s a really interesting interview and made us realise all sorts of things that we had missed. Ha! Which means, of course, that we are duty bound to re-read the book.

But let me start at the beginning. We met at S’s house in the middle of Cuernavaca and it was lovely to be back there after 4 years of S living in another house and renting her home of well over 20 years.  It’s like rediscovering her home again, the same but inevitably different. It is obvious that S is glad to be back and so we drank to her, her husband and her house, we love it there too. And then J, our one and only honorary member (who lives up north in Nayarit) was there, which was a lovely surprise and so we were only missing F (who was in San Diego) and L (who never got the email, we’re all very sorry L!). Needless to say the array of food was wonderful, everyone brought something and so that’s why the photo is of food and not of books!!!!!!

The other J, the founder of our book club, shared with us an article written by a friend in an English language online newspaper called the Huatulco Eye. The subject was book clubs and the author C, who we all know, had asked us for our opinions. She discussed a book club in Mexico City, ours in Cuernavaca, another in Chicago and one other. It was interesting because they are all completely different. The one in Mexico City has 26 members, of which our honorary member J is a founding member, they meet once a month and only permit 2 or 3 cakes plus tea and coffee, plus they all read the book, they discuss it after the tea and cake and I mean properly discuss it. They even have a mobile library of about 200 books! These are moved around the city from house to house every month so that the members can borrow them and return them a month later at the next meeting. How brilliant is that? Well, needless to say, ours is not like that. We drink alcohol (although much less than we used to), we bring tons of really delicious food (there’s no rule), we talk about books, yes, but we also talk about our children (L's eldest son just got married), politics, the weather, climate change, trips abroad, books we love, books we hate, gossip and pretty much anything you can think of. The thing is that we are only 9 people in the club, and we don’t really want anyone else to join. We find 9 or 10 to be the perfect number and we all know each other extremely well.  

So J, our founder, read the article out and we all interrupted a thousand times and eventually she got to the end. One thing about our group is that we are not shy to air our opinions. We congratulated ourselves on what a lovely group we are and how we won’t be changing a thing! However, J did say to me as we were leaving, if I – as the bossy one – could bring us to order a bit more next time and into the future, i.e. talk more about the book in question. Hmmmmm, well, yes, I can, so I will, and we’ll see what happens…..!

We also swopped a lot of titles of books we like, and J from Nayarit passed on some tips from her Mexico City book club and we passed on some of ours for her to share with her group. I recommended Robert Macpharlane whose books I love. I will write more about him on another occasion.

It was a great evening and Sweet Tooth did get our attention quite a lot actually and we talked about other McEwan books too. We are McEwan fans, that’s for sure. We loved the short stories contained in Sweet Tooth, they are fascinating. I particularly loved the one about the identical twins, one a priest, the other atheist. The priest is sick and so his brother takes over his role and gives the service in the church in front of the bishop no less, just for fun, and no one realises! Hilarious. Reminds me of my father, he would have loved that. He used to go down to Cornwall to see his aunt and on the train would often pretend to be a country vicar, usually as he knocked back the pints in the bar. He was a consummate actor.

Anyway, so thanks to S for welcoming us to her house and thanks to everyone for a wonderful evening. Next? Some time in September and the author will be Joyce Carol Oates and whichever book we want to read of hers.  Happy reading everyone.


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