Sunday, 20 June 2010

Our reading group discussion of Gillian Slovo's The Ice Road was mixed. It was a worthwhile read, though not a perfect book. The first few pages were rather confusing, as the story seemed to hop about between a bewildering variety of characters, but as these became fixed, the story became clearer.However, we felt that most of the characters were not quite fully rounded, and some were simply stereotypes. The political intrigues of pre-war Russia, in her soviet days, were interesting .and well covered. The significance of the title to the whole story didn't really become apparent until almost the end, which we felt a pity. We compared this title to Helen Dunmore's The Siege, a previous group read, also set in the wartime siege of Leningrad, although the period covered is a much shorter time,However we felt the detail describing the ice road and its significance to the people of Leningard is that much greater in Dunmore's novel.

A different book club and a different read. Still Alice by Lisa Genova is the story of Alice Howland a fiftty year old professor of neurolinguistics at Harvard University, who begins to realise that she is having memory problems and is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers disease. Alice is very successful in her field, has three grown-up children and a husband who is also a successful academic. The story is told from Alice's point of view, as her condition gradually deteriorates, and makes for an emotionally compelling read. Several book club members said they read it a one sitting. I found this slightly dificult to get into, but once I devoted enough time to get into it, found it a fascinating but harrowing read. Alice seemed such a real person and her changing relationship with her husband and children as her disease progresses is sympathetically drawn.
I've recently read a couple of Henning Mankell's Wallender books, The faceless Killers and The Dgs of Riga. Having watched both the English and Swedish TV programmes, and preferring the Swedish, I found the books interesting. My husband also read them, unusual for him as he prefers reading history or technical books to much fiction, but we both been gripped by the TV series, which has been well-filmed, whichever version you watch.

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