Chipping Norton Book Club

We have a thriving book club here at Jaffé & Neale, which meets at 6.30pm on the first Wednesday of every month in Chipping Norton. There’s no membership, no charge, and no obligation to come every month, so if you like the sound of a particular book, and would like to informally discuss it over a glass of wine, we’d love to see you. Check this page for our current book titles. We also offer 10% off our book club choice in store.

We all have our own particular reading tastes, be it classical fiction, historical literature or gripping thrillers, but being a part of a book club allows us to step outside our reading comfort zone and explore other genres. Love it or hate it, there is always a discussion to be had. You never know, there may be a new favourite read among the chosen books….

 

Wednesday September 2nd 2020 

War and Peace

by Leo Tolstoy

 

From sophisticated Moscow soirees to breathless troika rides through the snow, from the bloody front line at Austerlitz to a wife’s death in childbirth, Tolstoy conjures a broad panorama of rich, messy, beautiful and debased human life. We follow the fates of open-hearted, impulsive Pierre Bezukhov, his melancholy friend Prince Andrei and the enchanting Natasha Rostov, as history and fiction are combined in one of the wisest and most enthralling novels ever written.

 

Wednesday July 1st 2020 

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

by Ocean Vuong

 

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born – a history whose epicentre is rooted in Vietnam – and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation.

At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to the American moment, immersed as it is in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard. With stunning urgency and grace, Ocean Vuong writes of people caught between disparate worlds, and asks how we heal and rescue one another without forsaking who we are.

 

Wednesday June 3rd 2020 

What a Carve Up!

by Jonathan Coe

 

What a Carve Up! – a hilarious 1980s political satire by Jonathan CoeIt is the 1980s and the Winshaw family are getting richer and crueller by the year: Newspaper-columnist Hilary gets thousands for telling it like it isn’t; Henry’s turning hospitals into car parks; Roddy’s selling art in return for sex; down on the farm Dorothy’s squeezing every last pound from her livestock; Thomas is making a killing on the stock exchange; and Mark is selling arms to dictators. But once their hapless biographer Michael Owen starts investigating the family’s trail of greed, corruption and immoral doings, the time growing ripe for the Winshaws to receive their comeuppance. 

 

Wednesday May 6th 2020 

Findings

by Kathleen Jamie

 

It’s surprising what you can find by simply stepping out to look. Award-winning poet Kathleen Jamie has an eye and an ease with the nature and landscapes of Scotland as well as an incisive sense of our domestic realities. In Findings she draws together these themes to describe travels like no other contemporary writer.

Whether she is following the call of a peregrine in the hills above her home in Fife, sailing into a dark winter solstice on the Orkney islands, or pacing around the carcass of a whale on a rain-swept Hebridean beach, she creates a subtle and modern narrative, peculiarly alive to her connections and surroundings.

 

Wednesday April 8th 2020 

Sarah Jane

by James Sallis

 

Sarah Jane Pullman is a good cop with a complicated past. From her small-town chicken-farming roots through her runaway adolescence, court-ordered Army stint, ill-advised marriage and years slinging scrambled eggs over greasy spoon griddles, Sarah Jane unfolds her life story, a parable about memory, atonement, and finding shape in chaos. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she finds herself named the de facto sheriff of a rural town, investigating the mysterious disappearance of the sheriff whose shoes she’s filling–and the even more mysterious realities of the life he was hiding from his own colleagues and closest friends.

 

Wednesday March 4th 2020 

The Long Take

by Robin Robertson

 

Wednesday February 5th 2020

On A Winter’s Night A Traveller

by Italo Calvino

 

Walker is a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder; he can’t return home to rural Nova Scotia, and looks instead to the city for freedom, anonymity and repair. As he moves from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco we witness a crucial period of fracture in American history, one that also allowed film noir to flourish.

The Dream had gone sour but – as those dark, classic movies made clear – the country needed outsiders to study and dramatise its new anxieties. While Walker tries to piece his life together, America is beginning to come apart: deeply paranoid, doubting its own certainties, riven by social and racial division, spiralling corruption and the collapse of the inner cities. The Long Take is about a good man, brutalised by war, haunted by violence and apparently doomed to return to it – yet resolved to find kindness again, in the world and in himself.

Robin Robertson’s The Long Take is a work of thrilling originality.

 

 

You go into a bookshop and buy If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino. You like it. But alas there is a printer’s error in your copy.

You take it back to the shop and get a replacement. But the replacement seems to be a totally different story. You try to track down the original book you were reading but end up with a different narrative again.

This remarkable novel leads you through many different books including a detective adventure, a romance, a satire, an erotic story, a diary and a quest. But the real hero is you, the reader.

 

Wednesday January 8th 2020 

Bring along your favourite read of 2019 to discuss with the group

 

 

Everyone is welcome to bring along their book of the year to discuss (with a five minute limit!). Share your literary love with the group, and perhaps you’ll discover a recommendation?

Wednesday December 4th 2019 

The Bridge

by Iain Banks

 

 

The man who wakes up in the extraordinary world of a bridge has amnesia, and his doctor doesn’t seem to want to cure him. Does it matter? Exploring the bridge occupies most of his days. But at night there are his dreams.

Dreams in which desperate men drive sealed carriages across barren mountains to a bizarre rendezvous; an illiterate barbarian storms an enchanted tower under a stream of verbal abuse; and broken men walk forever over bridges without end, taunted by visions of a doomed sexuality. Lying in bed unconscious after an accident wouldn’t be much fun, you’d think. Oh yes? It depends who and what you’ve left behind.

Which is the stranger reality, day or night? Frequently hilarious and consistently disturbing, THE BRIDGE is a novel of outrageous contrasts, constructed chaos and elegant absurdities.

 

Wednesday November 6th 2019 

Travels with Herodotus

by Ryszard Kapuscinski

 

Travels with Herodotus records how Kapuscinski set out on his first forays – to India, China and Africa – with the great Greek historian constantly in his pocket. He sees Louis Armstrong in Khartoum, visits Dar-es-Salaam, arrives in Algiers in time for a coup when nothing seems to happen (but he sees the Mediterranean for the first time). At every encounter with a new culture, Kapuscinski plunges in, curious and observant, thirsting to understand its history, its thought, its people.

And he reads Herodotus so much that he often feels he is embarking on two journeys – the first his assignment as a reporter, the second following Herodotus’ expeditions.

 

 

Wednesday October 2nd 2019 

All Among the Barley

by Melissa Harrison

 

The fields were eternal, our life the only way of things, and I would do whatever was required of me to protect it. The autumn of 1933 is the most beautiful Edie Mather can remember, though the Great War still casts a shadow over the cornfields of her beloved home, Wych Farm. When charismatic, outspoken Constance FitzAllen arrives from London to write about fading rural traditions, she takes an interest in fourteen-year-old Edie, showing her a kindness she has never known before.

But the older woman isn’t quite what she seems. As harvest time approaches and pressures mount on the whole community, Edie must find a way to trust her instincts and save herself from disaster.

 

Wednesday September 4th 2019 

The Overstory

by Richard Powers

An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. An Air Force crewmember in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. This is the story of these and five other strangers, each summoned in different ways by the natural world, who are brought together in a last stand to save it from catastrophe. 

 

Wednesday July 3rd 2019 

The Silence of the Girls

by Pat Barker

Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Costa Novel Award, Booker-winning novelist Pat Barker imagines the untold story of the women at the heart of history’s greatest epic.

There was a woman at the heart of the Trojan war whose voice has been silent – till now. Briseis was a queen until her city was destroyed. Now she is slave to Achilles, the man who butchered her husband and brothers. Trapped in a world defined by men, can she survive to become the author of her own story? Discover the greatest Greek myth of all – retold by the witness history forgot.

 

Wednesday June 5th 2019 

Educated

by Tara Westover

Tara Westover and her family grew up preparing for the End of Days but, according to the government, she didn’t exist. She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in hospitals. As she grew older, her father became more radical and her brother more violent. At sixteen, Tara knew she had to leave home. In doing so she discovered both the transformative power of education, and the price she had to pay for it.

 

Wednesday May 1st 2019 

Norwegian by Night

by Derek B. Miller

He will not admit it to Rhea and Lars – never, of course not – but Sheldon can’t help but wonder what it is he’s doing here… Eighty-two years old, and recently widowed, Sheldon Horowitz has grudgingly moved to Oslo, with his grand-daughter and her Norwegian husband. An ex-Marine, he talks often to the ghosts of his past – the friends he lost in the Pacific and the son who followed him into the US Army, and to his death in Vietnam.

When Sheldon witnesses the murder of a woman in his apartment complex, he rescues her six-year-old son and decides to run. Pursued by both the Balkan gang responsible for the murder, and the Norwegian police, he has to rely on training from over half a century before to try and keep the boy safe. Against a strange and foreign landscape, this unlikely couple, who can’t speak the same language, start to form a bond that may just save them both.

 

Wednesday April 3rd 2019 

Everything Under

by Daisy Johnson

It’s been sixteen years since Gretel last saw her mother, half a lifetime to forget her childhood on the canals. But a phone call will soon reunite them, and bring those wild years flooding back: the secret language that Gretel and her mother invented; the strange boy, Marcus, living on the boat that final winter; the creature said to be underwater, swimming ever closer.

In the end there will be nothing for Gretel to do but to wade deeper into their past, where family secrets and aged prophesies will all come tragically alive again. 

 

Wednesday March 6th 2019 

Conversations with Friends

by Sally Rooney

Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed and observant. A student in Dublin and an aspiring writer, at night she performs spoken word with her best friend Bobbi, who used to be her girlfriend. When they are interviewed and then befriended by Melissa, a well-known journalist who is married to Nick, an actor, they enter a world of beautiful houses, raucous dinner parties and holidays in Provence, beginning a complex menage-a-quatre.

But when Frances and Nick get unexpectedly closer, the sharply witty and emotion-averse Frances is forced to honestly confront her own vulnerabilities for the first time.

 

Wednesday February 6th 2019 

The Diary of a Nobody

by George Grossmith

Mr Charles Pooter is a respectable man. He has just moved into a very desirable home in Holloway with his dear wife Carrie, from where he commutes to his job of valued clerk at a reputable bank in the City. Unfortunately neither his dear friends Mr Cummings and Mr Gowing, nor the butcher, the greengrocer’s boy and the Lord Mayor seem to recognise Mr Pooter’s innate gentility, and his disappointing son Lupin has gone and got himself involved with a most unsuitable fiancee…

George and Weedon Grossmith’s comic novel, perfectly illustrated by Weedon, is a glorious, affectionate caricature of the English middle-class at the end of nineteenth century.

 

*Tuesday* January 8th 2019

Memento Mori

by Muriel Spark 

*Please note that the date for the January book club has changed to Tuesday 8th*

Remember you must die. Dame Lettie Colston is the first of her circle to receive insinuating anonymous phone calls. Neither she, nor her friends, wish to be reminded of their mortality, and their geriatric feathers are thoroughly ruffled.

As the caller’s activities become more widespread, old secrets are dusted off, exposing post and present duplicities, self-deception and blackmail. Nobody is above suspicion. Witty, poignant and wickedly hilarious, Memento Mori may ostensibly concern death, but it is a book which leaves one relishing life all the more.

Wednesday December 5th 2018

Sing, Unburied, Sing

by Jesmyn Ward

 

“Sing, Unburied, Sing” examines the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power – and limitations – of family bonds. Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. His mother, Leonie, is in constant conflict with herself and those around her.

She is black and her children’s father is white. Embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances, she wants to be a better mother, but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary.

At Parchman, there is another boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first century America.

 

Wednesday November 7th 2018

Devil’s Day

by Andrew Michael Hurley

 

After the blizzard of a century ago, it was weeks before anyone got in or out. By that time, what had happened there, what the Devil had done, was already fable. Devil’s Day is a day for children now, of course.

A tradition it’s easy to mock, from the outside. But it’s important to remember why we do what we do. It’s important to know what our grandfathers have passed down to us.

Because it’s hard to understand, if you’re not from the valley, how this place is in your blood. That’s why I came back, with Kat; it wasn’t just because the Gaffer was dead. Though that year we may have let the Devil in after all .

Wednesday October 3rd 2018

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman,

by Denis Theriault

 

Secretly steaming open envelopes and reading the letters inside, Bilodo has found an escape from his lonely and routine life as a postman. When one day he comes across a mysterious letter containing a single haiku, he finds himself avidly caught up in the relationship between a long-distance couple who write to each other using only beautiful poetry. He feasts on their words, vicariously living a life for which he longs.

But it will only be a matter of time before his world comes crashing down around him.

 

 

Wednesday September 12th 2018

Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind,

by Yuval Noah Harari

 

Planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old. In just a fraction of that time, one species among countless others has conquered it. Us.

We are the most advanced and most destructive animals ever to have lived. What makes us brilliant? What makes us deadly? What makes us Sapiens? In this bold and provocative book, Yuval Noah Harari explores who we are, how we got here and where we’re going. Sapiens is a thrilling account of humankind’s extraordinary history – from the Stone Age to the Silicon Age – and our journey from insignificant apes to rulers of the world ‘It tackles the biggest questions of history and of the modern world, and it is written in unforgettably vivid language.

 

 

No Book Club August 2018

Wednesday July 4th 2018

Hag-Seed, by Margaret Atwood

 

LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2017
 

Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other.

It will boost his reputation. It will heal emotional wounds. Or that was the plan.

Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. Also brewing revenge. After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison.

Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?

 

 

Wednesday June 6th 2018

Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid

 

SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017

ONE OF BARACK OBAMA’s TOP TEN BOOKS OF 2017

This is Nadia. She is fiercely independent with an excellent sense of humour and a love of smoking alone on her balcony late at night.

This is Saeed. He is sweet and shy and kind to strangers. He also has a balcony but he uses his for star-gazing.

This is their story: a love story, but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow. Saeed and Nadia are falling in love, and their city is falling apart. Here is a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it.

Exit West is a heartfelt and radical act of hope – a novel to restore your faith in humanity and in the power of imagination.

 

Wednesday May 2nd 2018

Reservoir 13, by Jon McGregor

 

 

WINNER OF THE 2017 COSTA NOVEL AWARD

A GUARDIAN BOOK OF THE YEAR

AN FT BOOK OF THE YEAR

A TELEGRAPH BOOK OF THE YEAR

From the award-winning author of “If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things”, “Reservoir 13” tells the story of many lives haunted by one family’s loss. Midwinter in the early years of this century.

A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home. Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed.

The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. As it must. An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside.

 

We do hope that you can join us; for more information you can call us on 01608 641033 or email us at info@jaffeandneale.co.uk for our Chipping Norton branch.
Or you can call 01451 83200 or email stow@jaffeandneale.co.uk for our Stow-on-the-wold branch.
 
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