Book Club 2

GROUP CONVENOR – Christine Wright

We meet on the first Wednesday of the month at 1.00 pm in the Assembly Room at St Austell Arts Centre. If you enjoy reading and discussing the book you have read, come along and join us.

NB This group is now at capacity. Please contact the Group Convenor via the below form if you would like to be added to a waiting list.

Below are details of our recently read books.

May 2024 The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice

This book was written by Tim Rice’s daughter, Eva Rice and is set in the post war era of the late fifties and early sixties accurately capturing the atmosphere of the swinging sixties and the enormous changes happening at that time. It is the story of Tara, a country vicar’s daughter from Cornwall, whose talented voice and song writing abilities lead to her rise to fame from 10 to 17 years of age as a successful singer/songwriter.

In the beginning, Tara struggles coping with the image she is encouraged to portray and the characters surrounding her when she goes to London and is surrounded by the “sex, drugs and rock,n,roll” scene. She experiences a gamut of emotions – envy, love, hope and despair, guilt and redemption – all are cleverly captured with unsentimental but sympathetic, detailed observation and humour.

We get a picture of the people who were around at that time (Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones is mentioned) and we see these characters through Tara’s eyes.

In addition to the music scene at that time, Eva Rice also details examples of the “out with the old, in with the new” culture, threading the mass destruction of Victorian architecture skilfully through the story as streets of majestic old houses were knocked down to create new roads and modern buildings.

Although it is a long book, it is an easy read and a satisfying “rags to riches” tale although not all members of the group were in agreement, with some feeling that the ending was predictable from the beginning and it took far too long to be proven right with some abandoning the book halfway through!

Some comments from members:

“easy read but far too long and rambling”

“honest believable characters and accurate description of the era. Feelgood descriptions of Cornwall and a novel change to have so many optimistic folk, no real nasties. But the overall story did not add up to very much and I lost interest before reaching the end.”

“I did not think I was going to enjoy this book when Tara met her fairytale prince in the first few pages. But I found Eva Rice such a good storyteller that she kept me turning the pages to the bitter end.”

“I thought all her characters were well portrayed and the plot had many twists and turns in the lives of most of the characters in the story.” 

“As the story progressed, it became a good read for me.”

“I found it joyous, glorious, outrageous, romantic, over the top 60’s London. There were laugh out loud moments. I was a teenager in 60’s London before moving to Cornwall”

“The somewhat over-used “rags to riches” phrase comes to mind as Tara’s innocent singing is teased out into a full-blown career. Some nostalgic, even hysterical or historical diversions – references to Nickolaus Pevsner, Mary Quant, Cheyne walk, the mini skirt, hippies, Chelsea etc………..”

April 2024 Fahreneit 451  by Ray Bradbury

This is a classic dystopian novel written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1953. It presents a disturbing possible future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any books that are found, as books are said to cause unhappiness and inequality. The houses of the book owners are also burnt to the ground. TV is the opiate of the masses. Streets are empty because the houses have “wall to wall” TVs that constantly churn out “happiness stories” which have no meaning. There is no need to go outside.

The story is based around Guy Montag, a fireman who begins to question the policy after a chance meeting with a young girl, Clarissa who talks of a different world in which books are an important component.

This questioning leads him to someone who gives him books and he begins to discover a different perspective on the life he is leading and the job he is doing. He is subsequently betrayed and becomes a fugitive finally finding refuge with a group of men who have memorised different books to keep the knowledge alive but who are outside society and constantly under threat of discovery.  

Many of our members remember reading this book in their teens along with Orwell’s “1984” and “Animal Farm” and Huxley’s “Brave New World”.  More than 50 years on the story has much more relevance in understanding the way current life is working out, how dictatorships emerge and the obsession with screens and modern -day reality TV. Subsequent world history has shown that the violence, fear, disregard of human life and oppressive regimes shown in this novel are even more evident now. It highlights the fear held by those in power that knowledge gained through books (and subsequently conversations about them) will lead to independent thought and challenge their authority. Keep the masses happy with distractions and they are easy to rule.

Some comments from the group:

“Sexism – Clarissa – a precursor of the manic pixie dream girl whose only purpose is to give the male protagonist important life lessons and who is then promptly killed off. Millicent and her friends – representation of all that is vacuous in society. All intellectuals are men – Faber, group in forest, Captain Beatty. All the books quoted are from classic tomes written by men – no Brontes, Austen, Woolf, Elliot, etc. Snobbery – Books are worthy. Other media are not. Implication that the people who prefer other media are also not as worthy. Presumably, Bradbury was uncomfortable with the expansion of TV in the 50s.”

“The only part of the book I found interesting was the Afterword section which told how he came to write the book especially his encounter with the policeman when he was on a walk.  (This surely could only happen in America ) – It almost made the book worth reading! “

“This novel acknowledges how important books are to ordinary people. The author accurately predicts the influence that technology and the media will have over us”

 “I’m still not sure how we should regard the book – a flight of fancy or a philosophical warning”

“This story has an interesting concept, especially being read in this day and age when “fake news” and “subtle propaganda” invade and control so much of our lives”

Previous Reviews can be seen HERE

We are happy for you to come to a Coffee Morning or one main Monthly Meeting and to attend one individual group (with the exception of groups that require pre-booking and ticket purchases) before deciding whether to join St Austell u3a.

Please always contact the Group Convenor to ensure the session is going ahead.