South Manchester Book Group

If you enjoy talking about books over a quiet drink, then please join us — new members are very welcome. We normally meet at the Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury around 8 pm but whilst the contagion lasts and we REMAIN INDOORS we'll become a virtual  bookgroup and meet online.

Please use the Contact Us form [on the web version of the site] to be added to our mailing list and receive the online meeting invitations.

There's a meeting every fortnight, but you don't have to come to them all. It's dead simple; choose a book you like the sound of, read it (or even part of it) beforehand and turn up* with a few ideas and money for beer / wine / flirtinis. It's all very informal, and we're quite a friendly bunch. We can usually be found on the table with the books and flirtinis.

Our reading list, past, present, and future, appears here and there's a shorter version of upcoming books here.

* Do not turn up — REMAIN INDOORS !

Thursday, 29 October 2020

A Murder Is Announced — Agatha Christie

Book cover for A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie A Murder Is Announced in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group “A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, 29 October, at Little Paddocks, at 6.30 pm. Friends accept this, the only intimation.”

What is this advertisement ? A childish practical joke ? Or a hoax intended to scare Letitia Blacklock ? Unable to resist the mysterious invitation, a crowd begins to gather at Little Paddocks at the appointed time when, without warning, the lights go out …

This week's book is A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Shadow of the Wind — Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Book cover for Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón Shadow of the Wind in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the Cemetery of Lost Books, a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles long since out of print.

To the library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945 to choose a book from the shelves. But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find, including one who reminds Daniel of a character from the book ...

This week's book is Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

A Thousand Ships — Natalie Haynes

Book cover for A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes A Thousand Ships in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group In the middle of the night, Creusa wakes to find her beloved Troy engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of brutal conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over, and the Greeks are victorious. Over the next few hours, the only life she has ever known will turn to ash.

This is the women’s war, just as much as it is the men’s, and the poet will look upon their pain — the pain of the women who have always been relegated to the edges of the story, victims of men, survivors of men, slaves of men — and he will tell it, or he will tell nothing at all. They have waited long enough for their turn ...

This week's book is A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Kill Your Friends — John Niven

Book cover for Kill Your Friends by John Niven Kill Your Friends in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book groupLondon 1997. New Labour is sweeping into power and Britpop is at its zenith. Twenty-seven year old A&R man Stelfox is slashing and burning his way through the music industry, a world where ‘no one knows anything’ and where careers are made and broken by chance and the fickle tastes of the general public — ‘Yeah, those animals’.

But as the hits dry up and the industry begins to change, Stelfox must take the notion of cutthroat business practices to murderous new levels in a desperate attempt to salvage his career ...

This week's book is Kill Your Friends by John Niven and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Trumpet — Jackie Kay

Book cover for Trumpet by Jackie Kay Trumpet in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group “When the love of your life dies, the problem is not that some part of you dies too, which it does, but that some part of you is still alive.”

The death of legendary jazz trumpeter Joss Moody exposes an extraordinary secret.

The discovery is most devastating for their adopted son, Colman, whose bewildered fury brings the press to the doorstep and sends his grieving mother to the sanctuary of a remote Scottish village.

This week's book is Trumpet by Jackie Kay and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis — Giorgio Bassani

Book cover for The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani The Garden of the Finzi-Continis in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group “Even in a city as small as Ferrara, you can manage, if you like, to disappear for years and years, one from another, living side by side like the dead.”

The haunting, elegiac story of an aristocratic Jewish family moving imperceptibly towards its doom in the last summers of the thirties as Mussolini comes to power.

This week's book is The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Cold Comfort Farm — Stella Gibbons

Book cover for Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons Cold Comfort Farm in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group“Nay ... I saw something nasty in the woodshed,” said Aunt Ada Doom, fretfully moving her great head from side to side. “’Twas a burnin’ noonday ... sixty-nine years ago. And me no bigger than a titty-wren. And I saw something na—”

When the sukebind was in bud the orphaned Flora Poste, expensively, athletically and lengthily educated, descended on her relatives at Cold Comfort Farm. There were plenty of them – Judith, alone in her grief; Amos, called by God; Seth, smouldering with sex; Elfine, who needed a little polish; Urk; Rennet; Harkaway; Caraway etc; and, of course, Great Aunt Ada Doom ...

And Flora felt it incumbent upon her to bring order into chaos.

This week's book is Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Queenie — Candice Carty-Williams

Book cover for Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams Queenie in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book groupQueenie Jenkins can't cut a break. Well, apart from one from her long term boyfriend, Tom. That's definitely just a break though. Definitely not a break up. Stuck between a boss who doesn't seem to see her, her Jamaican-British family who don't seem to listen (if it's not Jesus or water rates, they're not interested), and trying to fit in two worlds that don't really understand her, it's no wonder she's struggling.

She was named to be queen of everything. So why is she finding it so hard to rule her own life ?

This week's book is Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Rites of Passage — William Golding

Book cover for Rites of Passage by William Golding Rites of Passage in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group Sailing to Australia in the early years of the nineteenth century, Edmund Talbot keeps a journal to amuse his godfather back in England. Full of wit and disdain, he records the mounting tensions on the ancient, sinking warship where officers, sailors, soldiers and emigrants jostle in the cramped spaces below decks.

Then a single passenger, the obsequious Reverend Colley, attracts the animosity of the sailors, and in the seclusion of the fo'c'sle something happens to bring him into a ‘hell of degradation’, where shame is a force deadlier than the sea itself.

This week's book is Rites of Passage by William Golding and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

The Old Man and the Sea — Ernest Hemingway

Book cover for The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway The Old Man and the Sea in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book groupHe no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife.

He only dreamed of places now and the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy.

He never dreamed about the boy. He simply woke, looked out the open door at the moon and unrolled his trousers and put them on.

This week's book is The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

The Hunting Party — Lucy Foley

Book cover for The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley The Hunting Party in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year.

Everyone's invited. Everyone's a suspect.

The beautiful one
The golden couple
The volatile one
The new parents
The quiet one
The city boy
The outsider

The victim.

Not an accident — a murder amongst friends.

This week's book is The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Dead Lions — Mick Herron

Book cover for Dead Lions by Mick Herron Dead Lions in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton, Northenden, and Didsbury book group “Dead lions,” Molly said.

“What about them ?”

“It’s a kids’ party game. You have to pretend to be dead. Lie still. Do nothing.”

“What happens when the game’s over ?” Lamb asked.

“Oh,” she said. “I expect all hell breaks loose.”

This week's book is Dead Lions by Mick Herron and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Three Men on a Boat — Jerome K Jerome

Book cover for Jerome K Jerome's Three Men in a Boat in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book groupMartyrs to hypochondria and general seediness, J and his friends George and Harris decide that a jaunt up the Thames would suit them to a ‘T’. But when they set off, they can hardly predict the troubles that lie ahead with tow-ropes, unreliable weather forecasts and tins of pineapple chunks ― not to mention the devastation left in the wake of J's small fox-terrier Montmorency.

This week's book is Jerome K Jerome's Three Men on a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

REMAIN INDOORS

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Station Eleven — Emily St. John Mandel

Book cover for Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group A flu pandemic wipes out 99% of humanity.

One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whilst performing the role of a lifetime. That same evening a deadly virus touches down in North America. The world will never be the same again. Twenty years later Kirsten, an actress in the Travelling Symphony, performs Shakespeare in the settlements that have grown up since the collapse. But then her newly hopeful world is threatened.

What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty.

This week's book is Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

REMAIN INDOORS

Thursday, 16 April 2020

The English Patient — Michael Ondaatje

Book cover for Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group The final curtain is closing on the Second World War and in an abandoned Italian village. Hana, a nurse, tends to her sole remaining patient. Rescued from a burning plane, the anonymous Englishman is damaged beyond recognition and haunted by painful memories.

The only clue Hana has to unlocking his past is the one thing he clung on to through the fire — a copy of The Histories by Herodotus, covered with hand-written notes detailing a tragic love affair.

This week's book is Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

REMAIN INDOORS

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Ascent — Jed Mercurio

Book cover for Jed Mercurio's Ascent in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book groupYefgenii Yeremin is a flyer and he is a phantom. In the Korean War, he is the legendary ace dubbed ‘Ivan the Terrible’, shooting down more American jets than any other pilot in history.  But the Soviet Union's involvement in Korea must be kept secret, so Yefgenii is exiled to a remote Arctic base, his name unknown, his victories uncelebrated.  But in 1964, a man arrives from Moscow, from the Space Committee, in search of a volunteer prepared to sacrifice everything for his country.

This week's book is Jed Mercurio's Ascent and we'll not be meeting in The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

REMAIN INDOORS

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Cancelled due to Plague

Book cover for the cancelled Jed Mercurio's Ascent in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book groupThis meeting is cancelled due to Didsbury's Dreadful Visitation and the Shutting-up of the Fletcher Moss.

We'll be discussing the book, Jed Mercurio's Ascent, online on 02.04.20.

As always, the unread books list and the unreadable books list will provide jaw-dropping levels of insight, pleasure, and solace.

REMAIN INDOORS

Thursday, 5 March 2020

The Siege of Krishnapur — J G Farrell

Book cover for J G Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group In the Spring of 1857, with India on the brink of a violent and bloody mutiny, Krishnapur is a remote town on the vast North Indian plain. For the British there, life is orderly and genteel. Then the sepoys at the nearest military cantonment rise in revolt and the British community retreats with shock into the Residency. They prepare to fight for their lives with what weapons they can muster. As food and ammunition grow short, the Residency, its defences battered by shot and shell and eroded by the rains, becomes ever more vulnerable.

This week's book is J G Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

The Song of Achilles — Madeline Miller

Book cover for Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

This week's book is Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

The Tent, the Bucket, and Me — Emma Kennedy

Book cover for Emma Kennedy's The Tent, the Bucket, and Me in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group For the 70s child, summer holidays didn't mean the joy of CentreParcs or the sophistication of a Tuscan villa. They meant being crammed into a car with Grandma and heading to the coast. With just a tent for a home and a bucket for the necessities, we would set off on new adventures each year stoically resolving to enjoy ourselves.

For Emma Kennedy, and her mum and dad, disaster always came along for the ride no matter where they went. Whether it was being swept away by a force ten gale on the Welsh coast or suffering copious amounts of food poisoning on a brave trip to the south of France, family holidays always left them battered and bruised.


For this week's meeting, the author has promised to answer any questions on the book via twitter.

This week's book is Emma Kennedy's The Tent, the Bucket, and Me and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.