Didsbury Book Group

We talk about them too ! If you like to talk about what you've read, then please join us — new members are very welcome. We meet at the Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury around 8 pm.

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.

We've found ourselves unexpectedly popular over recent months and so — regretfully — we're not accepting new members at the moment. This will change, so please do come back to this page periodically.

Thursday, 25 June 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 be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Behind the Scenes at the Museum — Kate Atkinson

Book cover for Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group Ruby Lennox was conceived grudgingly by Bunty and born while her father, George, was in the Dog and Hare in Doncaster telling a woman in an emerald dress and a D-cup that he wasn't married. Bunty had never wanted to marry George, but here she was, stuck in a flat above the pet shop in an ancient street beneath York Minster, with sensible and sardonic Patrica aged five, greedy cross-patch Gillian who refused to be ignored, and Ruby ...

... Ruby tells the story of The Family, from the day at the end of the nineteenth century when a travelling French photographer catches frail beautiful Alice and her children, like flowers in amber, to the startling, witty, and memorable events of Ruby's own life.

This week's book is Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

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, 28 May 2020

The Book Thief — Markus Zusak

Book cover for Markus Zusak's The Book Thief in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier. Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.

To-night's meeting is held in bitter memoriam and fathomless lamentation for Tom's library book.

This week's book is Markus Zusak's The Book Thief and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

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, 14 May 2020

Catch 22 — Joseph Heller

Book cover for Joseph Heller's Catch 22 in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

This week's book is Joseph Heller's Catch 22 and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

The Secret Scripture — Sebastian Barry

Book cover for Sebastian Barry's The Secret Scripture in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group Nearing her one-hundredth birthday, Roseanne McNulty faces an uncertain future, as the Roscommon Regional Mental hospital where she's spent the best part of her adult life prepares for closure. Over the weeks leading up to this upheaval, she talks often with her psychiatrist Dr Grene, and their relationship intensifies and complicates.

Told through their respective journals, the story that emerges is at once shocking and deeply beautiful. Refracted through the haze of memory and retelling, Roseanne's story becomes an alternative, secret history of Ireland's changing character and the story of a life blighted by terrible mistreatment and ignorance, and yet marked still by love and passion and hope.

This week's book is Sebastian Barry's The Secret Scripture and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Regeneration — Pat Barker

Book cover for Pat Barker's Regeneration in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group Craiglockhart War Hospital, Scotland, 1917, and army psychiatrist William Rivers is treating shell-shocked soldiers. Under his care are the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, as well as mute Billy Prior, who is only able to communicate by means of pencil and paper. Rivers's job is to make the men in his charge healthy enough to fight. Yet the closer he gets to mending his patients' minds the harder becomes every decision to send them back to the horrors of the front.

This week's book is Pat Barker's Regeneration and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

A Bend in the River — V S Naipaul

Book cover for V S Naipaul's A Bend in the River in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.

What is it to be nothing ? To feel that you have no power over your place in the world, and that that power is in the hands of others. Salim is an Indian Muslim in a newly independent African country. A merchant stranded up-country, he watches others twist to escape that fate and strives to avoid it himself.

Beautifully written and observed.

This week's book is V S Naipaul's A Bend in the River and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Ascent — Jed Mercurio

Book cover for Jed Mercurio's Ascent in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group Yefgenii 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 be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

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.

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.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Munich — Robert Harris

Book cover for Robert Harris's Munich in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group September 1938. Hitler is determined to start a war. Chamberlain is desperate to preserve the peace.

The issue is to be decided in a city that will forever afterwards be notorious for what takes place there.

Munich.

This week's book is Robert Harris's Munich and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Glittering Images — Susan Howatch

Book cover for Susan Howatch's Glittering Images in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group Beneath the smooth surface of an Episcopal palace lurks the salacious breath of scandal. Charles Ashworth is sent to untangle the web of self-delusion and corruption only to become embroiled in a strange ménage à trois that threatens to expose the secrets of his own past ...

This week's book is Susan Howatch's Glittering Images and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Nothing Lasts Forever — Roderick Thorpe

Book cover for Roderick Thorpe's Nothing Lasts Forever in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group The novel that became Die Hard !

Retired New York Police detective Joe Leland is visiting the 40-story office headquarters of the Klaxon Oil Corporation in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve, where his daughter Stephanie Leland Gennaro works. While he is waiting for his daughter's Christmas party to end, a group of German Autumn–era terrorists take over the skyscraper.

This week's book is Roderick Thorpe's Nothing Lasts Forever and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Milkman — Anna Burns

Book cover for Anna Burns's Milkman in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group A teenager — whose only means of escape is literature — is slowly ground down by the unwanted attentions and creeping psychopathy of a paramilitary many years her senior. This is the secret state, a place where gossip and hearsay are weaponised methods of control, contained in a novel written with both a sad humour and a certain kind of fury.

This week's book is Anna Burns's Milkman and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

The Amber Spyglass — Philip Pullman

Book cover for Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group Will and Lyra, whose fates are bound together by powers beyond their own worlds, have been violently separated. But they must find each other, for ahead of them lies the greatest war that has ever been — and a journey to a dark place from which no one has ever returned ...

This is the third and final part of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.
This week's book is Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

The Bloody Chamber — Angela Carter

Book cover for Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group Angela Carter's fairy tales: ‘The Bloody Chamber’, ‘The Courtship of Mr Lyon’, ‘The Tiger's Bride’, ‘Puss-in-Boots’, ‘The Erl-King’, ‘The Snow Child’, ‘The Lady of the House of Love’, ‘The Werewolf’, ‘The Company of Wolves’, and ‘Wolf-Alice’.

This week's book is Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

The Master and Margarita — Mikhail Bulgakov

Book cover for Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group In Soviet Moscow, God is dead, but the devil — to say nothing of his retinue of demons, from a loudmouthed, gun-toting tomcat, to the fanged fallen angel Koroviev — is very much alive. As death and destruction spread through the city like wildfire, condemning Moscow's cultural elite to prison cells and body bags, only a madman, the Master, and Margarita, his beautiful, courageous lover, can hope to end the chaos.

Written in secret during the darkest days of Stalin's reign and circulated in samizdat form for decades, when The Master and the Margarita was finally published it became an overnight literary phenomenon, signalling artistic freedom for Russians everywhere.

This week's book is Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Tangerine — Christine Mangan

Book cover for Christine Mangan's Tangerine in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the horrific accident at Bennington, the two friends — once inseparable roommates — haven't spoken in over a year. But Lucy is standing there, trying to make things right.

Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy, always fearless and independent, helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice — she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice's husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

This week's book is Christine Mangan's Tangerine and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Master and Commander — Patrick O'Brian

Book cover for Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander in the South Manchester, Chorlton, and Didsbury book group 1800s. Britain's Nelson leads Navy against Napoleon's France. Captain Jack Aubrey, newly promoted to old, slow HMS Sophie, is a brave and gifted seaman, his thirst for adventure and victory immense. Aided by friend and skilled ship surgeon Stephen Maturin, Aubrey and crew win clashes, finally hopelessly outmatched by a mighty Spanish frigate.

‘ ... the best historical novels ever written. On every page Mr. O'Brian reminds us with subtle artistry of the most important of all historical lessons: that times change but people don't, that the griefs and follies and victories of the men and women who were here before us are in fact the maps of our own lives.’

This week's book is Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander and we'll be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury.