I've finally (only taken 10 months!) found a reading group to join. I've been on the waiting list for the one at the library for ages but never moved any further up, finally someone at the local bookshop put me in touch with a group that meets in a village about 5 miles away. Only problem is that I can't get to a meeting until July because of work!
Their May book was "Little Children" by Tom Perotta.
An enjoyable read. The novel follows a variety of characters, who act like small children in their selfish behaviour. It follows the thoughts and actions of a small group of parents and a sex offender living nearby who is living with his mother. Supposedly the novel is a cross between "Madame Bovary" and "Desperate Housewives", but as I've only read half of "Madame Bovary" and have never seen "Desperate Housewives", I wouldn't know! The characters are mainly in their thirties, and have discovered that life isn't quite all they thought it was going to be - there are frustrations with their work, their love lives, that they haven't quite got all that they thought they would - even the "perfect Mum" is revealed at the end to have enormous cracks in her relationship. All of the characters make bad decisions, the danger appears to come from the sex offender, but in reality comes from each one of them. I found some parts hard to understand - some of the characters play American Football and there are great long descriptions of matches (games?) which I couldn't make any sense of at all! The reading group gave it four out of five stars, which I think I'd agree with!
I've also just finished "On Chesil Beach" by Ian McEwan. An excellent novel. And short enough to read in one sitting (176 pages). The novel follows Edward and Florence on their wedding day and to their wedding night when they fail to consummate the marriage. The reader gets drawn into what is going on in both Edward's and Florence's heads, and how they appear to each other, plus explaining the background to their inability to talk to each other and express their needs and desires, and how that fits in with the atmosphere of late 50s and early 60s Britain. It's an incredibly sad novel, if the characters had been born slightly later (or, indeed, slightly earlier?) they would probably have been fine, but the novel portrays how they both become victims of their age. And, as usual, I love the way McEwan uses words, the book just flew by!
And "Practically Perfect" by Katie Fforde. Which was enjoyable, but typical chicklit really - woman buys house, does it up, find best friend living next door (nope, that doesn't happen in real life), ends up with a greyhound by accident, gets yelled at by Greyhound Trust man (who has "twinkly" eyes, so you know she's going to end up with him), gets yelled at by Listed Buildings man (who is also the Greyhound man), a couple of people end up in hospital to facilitate woman and Greyhound/Listed Buildings/Twinkly eyes getting together. And that's about it really. Why doesn't somebody write chicklit that has some grounds in reality?! Although at least this heroine isn't as idiotic as some of the others out there...
And, finally, "The Wonder Spot" by Melissa Banks. Sophie (the main character) just floats aimlessly through life - the book is divided into sections, but none of them seem particularly linked together. Sophie doesn't seem to get anywhere or do anything, I felt like wanting to throttle her by the end. I wish I hadn't bothered to finish it, it was a waste of time