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, 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.

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.

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.