On Friday morning my Book Club discussed Marina Lewycka's Two Caravans. There were some mixed opinions, particularly over the last few pages as to exactly what happened to Vulk and Lena. on the whole most of us found it an interesting read. I did wonder where it was heading at the description of Emmanuel's birthday feast - the details of the food that was prepared, the festive atmosphere that the workers managed to create despite their dire living conditions, all seemed to be saying that all was well with their little world. However that illusion soon disappeared and was replaced by a much more frightening reality, which continued throughout the rest if the novel. The set pieces based on the different locations, from the strawberry fields, a chicken shed, a restaurant, Dover, and an old peoples hope , reached by way of a hippy-type protest camp, that the various characters found themselves in seemed a good way of moving the story forward. The writing is neither tragic nor particularly serious; there are lots of lighter moments, sometimes at the expense of the characters when they misunderstand what is happening, because they don't speak English adequately or because they are too trusting of others motives. I loved this book, despite it's tragedies and uncertainties, because it seemed to me to be describing life as it is lived by some people.
Wendy Cope was at Southampton Art Gallery last night, giving a reading of her poems. She was excellent entertainment and the audience was very appreciative. Full marks to staff at Southampton's Central Library for organising it.