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.

Drop us a line on the Contact Us form and we'll add you to our mailing list and send you invitations to our online meetings. We always reply, so if you don't hear from us please check your spam folder.

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, 24 June 2021

Without Prejudice — Nicola Williams

Book cover for Without Prejudice by Nicola Williams Without Prejudice in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group Lee Mitchell is a thirty-year-old barrister from a working-class Caribbean background: in the cut-throat environment of the courtroom, everything is stacked against her.

After she takes on the high-profile case of notorious millionaire playboy Clive Omartian — arrested along with his father and stepbrother for eye-wateringly exorbitant fraud — the line between her personal and professional life becomes dangerously blurred. Spiralling further into Clive's trail of debauchery and corruption, she finds herself in alarmingly deep waters.

Can she survive her case, let alone win it ?

This week's book is Without Prejudice by Nicola 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, 10 June 2021

The Midnight Library — Matt Haig

Book cover for The Midnight Library by Matt Haig The Midnight Library in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself.

But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren't always what she imagined they'd be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger. Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live ?

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

As we're coming to the end of our reading list, we'll be choosing books at the meeting. You may like to consider the unread books list and the unreadable books list.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

The Thursday Murder Club — Richard Osman

Book cover for The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman The Thursday Murder Club in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved killings.

But when a local property developer shows up dead, The Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

The four friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron, might be octogenarians, but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it's too late ?

This week's book is The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman 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, 13 May 2021

Minty Alley — C L R James

Book cover for Minty Alley by C L R James Minty Alley in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group “As he walked home he looked up at the myriads of stars, shining in the moonlight. Did people live there ? And if they did, what sort of life did they live ?”

Port-of-Spain in the 1920s, and Haynes' world has been upended. His mother has died, and his carefully mapped-out future of gleaming opportunity has disappeared with her.

Unable to afford his former life, he finds himself moving into Minty Alley — a bustling barrack yard teeming with energy and a spectacular cast of characters. In this sliver of West Indian working-class society, outrageous love affairs and passionate arguments are a daily fixture, and Haynes begins to slip from curious observer to the heart of the action.

This week's book is Minty Alley by C L R James 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, 29 April 2021

The Lost Man — Jane Harper

Book cover for The Lost Man by Jane Harper The Lost Man in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group Two brothers meet at the remote border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of the outback. In an isolated part of Australia, they are each other's nearest neighbour, their homes hours apart.

They are at the stockman's grave, a landmark so old that no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family's quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.

Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he choose to walk to his death ? Because if he didn't, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects ...

This week's book is The Lost Man by Jane Harper 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 April 2021

Frankenstein in Baghdad — Ahmed Saadawi

Book cover for Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi Frankenstein in Baghdad in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group In the rubble-strewn streets of occupied Baghdad, wanders Hadi, the junk peddler.

Hadi is used to picking up stray objects. One day he starts to bring home the body parts left in the streets from the day’s explosions. He feels they deserve a proper burial and he begins to stitch them together, in the hope that if he can create a whole corpse someone will bury it.

But then the corpse goes missing, and a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city ...

This week's book is Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi 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 April 2021

Norwegian Wood — Haruki Murakami

Book cover for Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami Norwegian Wood in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group When he hears her favourite Beatles song, Toru Watanabe recalls his first love Naoko, the girlfriend of his best friend Kizuki.

Immediately he is transported back almost twenty years to his student days in Tokyo, adrift in a world of uneasy friendships, casual sex, passion, loss and desire — to a time when an impetuous young woman called Midori marches into his life and he has to choose between the future and the past.

This week's book is Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami 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, 18 March 2021

Persepolis — Marjane Satrapi

Book cover for Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi Persepolis in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group “I realized then that I didn't understand anything. I read all the books I could.”

The story of Marjane Satrapi's life in Tehran from the ages of six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken child of radical Marxists, and the great-granddaughter of Iran's last emperor, Satrapi bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

This week's book is Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi 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, 4 March 2021

One By One — Ruth Ware

Book cover for One By One by Ruth Ware One By One in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group Snow is falling in the exclusive alpine ski resort of Saint Antoine, as the shareholders and directors of Snoop, the hottest new music app, gather for a make or break corporate retreat to decide the future of the company. At stake is a billion-dollar dot com buyout that could make them all millionaires, or leave some of them out in the cold.

The clock is ticking on the offer, and with the group irrevocably split, tensions are running high. When an avalanche cuts the chalet off from help, and one board member goes missing in the snow, the group is forced to ask — would someone resort to murder, to get what they want ?

This week's book is One By One by Ruth Ware 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, 18 February 2021

Stasiland — Anna Funder

Book cover for Stasiland by Anna Funder Stasiland in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist.

Stasiland is the extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany, a country where the headquarters of the secret police can become a museum literally overnight, and one in fifty East Germans were informing on their countrymen and women.

In it, we meet Miriam, who as a sixteen-year-old might have started the Third World War, visits the man who painted the line which became the Berlin Wall and gets drunk with the legendary ‘Mik Jegger’ of the East, who the authorities once declared — to his face — to ‘no longer exist’.

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

As we're coming to the end of our reading list, we'll be choosing books at the meeting. You may like to consider the unread books list and the unreadable books list.

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Piranesi — Susanna Clarke

Book cover for Piranesi by Susanna Clarke Piranesi in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has. In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides which thunder up staircases, the clouds which move in slow procession through the upper halls.

On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times he brings tributes of food and waterlilies to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone. Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they and what do they want? Are they a friend or do they bring destruction and madness as the Other claims ?

Lost texts must be found; secrets must be uncovered. The world that Piranesi thought he knew is becoming strange and dangerous. The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.

This week's book is Piranesi by Susanna Clarke 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, 21 January 2021

Before the Coffee Gets Cold — Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Book cover for Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi Before the Coffee Gets Cold in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group In a small back alley in Tokyo, a café serves carefully brewed coffee, something it has been doing for more than one hundred years.

It also offers its customers the chance to travel back in time ...

This week's book is Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi 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, 7 January 2021

The Blind Assassin — Margaret Atwood

Book cover for The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood The Blind Assassin in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group Laura Chase's older sister Iris, married at eighteen to a politically prominent industrialist but now poor and eighty-two, is living in Port Ticonderoga, a town dominated by their once-prosperous family before the First World War.

Iris reflects on her far from exemplary life, in particular the events surrounding her sister's tragic death. Chief among these was the publication of The Blind Assassin, a novel which earned the dead Laura Chase not only notoriety but also a devoted cult following. Sexually explicit for its time, The Blind Assassin describes a risky affair in the turbulent thirties between a wealthy young woman and a man on the run.

During their secret meetings in rented rooms, the lovers concoct a pulp fantasy set on Planet Zycron. As the invented story twists through love and sacrifice and betrayal, so does the real one; whilst events in both move closer to war and catastrophe.

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

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

The Signalman — Charles Dickens

Book cover for The Signalman by Charles Dickens The Signalman in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group ‘“What is its warning against ?” he said, ruminating, with his eyes on the fire, and only by times turning them on me. “What is the danger ? Where is the danger ? There is danger overhanging somewhere on the Line. Some dreadful calamity will happen. It is not to be doubted this third time, after what has gone before. But surely this is a cruel haunting of me. What can I do ?”’

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

We'll also be adding some other short stories to this meeting.

This is our last book this year, and we meet next on 7 January 2021 for The Blind Assassin.

The meeting is on Tuesday.

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Jamaica Inn — Daphne du Maurier

Book cover for Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier Jamaica Inn in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group “I never thought I’d struggle with telling good from evil. But there was once a time when I lost that certainty and everything I thought I knew was just a lie.”

This week's book is Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier 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, 26 November 2020

Wide Sargasso Sea — Jean Rhys

Book cover for Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys Wide Sargasso Sea in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group “There is always another side, always.”

Born into the oppressive, colonialist society of 1830s Jamaica, Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman, drawn to her innocent beauty and sensuality, Mr Rochester ...

This week's book is Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys 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, 12 November 2020

Jane Eyre — Charlotte Brontë

Book cover for Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.”

Orphaned, Jane Eyre, grows up in the home of her heartless aunt, enduring loneliness and cruelty. Her troubled childhood strengthens her natural independence and spirit — which prove necessary when she finds employment as governess to the young ward of Mr Rochester. As her feelings for Rochester develop, Jane gradually uncovers Thornfield Hall's terrible secret, forcing her to make a choice.

Should she stay with Rochester and live with the consequences, or follow her convictions — even if it means leaving the man she loves ?

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

Currer, Acton, and Ellis ... which Bell Brontë is which ? If you're confused our Brontësaurus will offer unquantifiable amounts of help.

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.