Let’s hope it is worth the wait because I’m not exactly ecstatic about the book in question, which is fairly unusual for me; the other four in our group all loved it so I was a bit out on my own but fortunately that never matters in our discussions.
The last choice for our book club was Precious Bane, by Mary Webb. It was written in the 1920s, but set at the time of Waterloo, over one hundred years before. The positive aspects were the resilience of the heroine, Prue Sarn whose life threatens to be blighted by a hare lip which leads the locals to view her as a witch but who learns to read and write (taught by the local wizard) and eventually finds trues love with Kester the Weaver who sees beyond her disfigurement.
Most the other characters are less appealing, either ineffective, like her mother, or downright selfish and cruel like her brother Gideon. (If you’re wondering why we have a picture of the Deadly Nightshade here you’ll have to read the book.) Their life is hard and their surroundings largely bleak and inhospitable although the Shropshire countryside is beautifully, poetically, described and obviously deeply loved by Mary Webb herself.
I read the book twice which I often do as I race through so fast the first time I return to savour things more slowly. I loved the descriptions and appreciated Mary Webb’s use of words, but it was all a bit melodramatic and a bit too reminiscent of Thomas Hardy for my real enjoyment. I longed for a bit of humour, and kept thinking longingly of Cold Comfort Farm, which so brilliantly parodies this style of book (and which we read as a group many years ago).
So now the next book we are all reading (again, for us all) is Jane Eyre. This was my choice, largely because the latest film, due for release in this country in August, was filmed at Haddon Hall. It is fun to have recently read a book before seeing the film, and particularly a flim shot in familiar surroundings – one can ponder over the changes made and where or even how each incident was filmed.
But there will be much more than that to discuss!