Congratulations to 2020 Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart and his novel, Shuggie Bain! A book one our Pageturners mentioned last week!!!! Too spooky!
Actor Stuart Campbell performs a reading from Booker Prize shortlisted author Douglas Stuart’s book, Shuggie Bain, streamed during the 2020 Booker Prize winner ceremony.
About the book
It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest.
Shuggie is different. Fastidious and fussy, he shares his mother’s sense of snobbish propriety. The miners’ children pick on him and adults condemn him as no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.
Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain lays bare the ruthlessness of poverty, the limits of love, and the hollowness of pride. A counterpart to the privileged Thatcher-era London of Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty, it also recalls the work of Édouard Louis, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, it is a blistering debut by a brilliant novelist with a powerful and important story to tell.
About the author
Douglas Stuart was born and raised in Glasgow. After graduating from the Royal College of Art in London, he moved to New York City, where he began a career in fashion design. Shuggie Bain is his first novel.
Join us for an online Zoom Webinar Tuesday 8th December at 6.30pm with author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz Heather Morris. Heather now shares her own story and explores the art of listening in her first non-fiction book Stories of Hope.
Active listening is a skill Heather has developed through a lifetime of experience; from childhood encounters with her great-grandfather in rural New Zealand through her career in a hospital where she dealt with many people going through tragedy and loss. As Heather lovingly recounts her many meetings with Lale it becomes clear that her skill as an active listener gave Lale Sokolov space and confidence to tell his story.
Reading this book is to walk with Heather as she listens to Lale over years as he told her his incredible story for The Tattooist of Auschwitz, publishes her novels, undertakes promotional tours and travels the world. Her courage and curiosity lead her on a remarkable journey where she meets an array of exceptional people.
Especially in this uncertain time, Stories of Hope provides inspiration and tools for anyone who is keen to deepen their connections to others by enhancing their listening skills.
Book your place for this Zoom Webinar on Tuesday 8 December at 6.30pm. You will be able to ask Heather questions using the Chat feature.
Pageturners enjoyed their discussion of Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin at the November evening meeting.
It describes the course of the 14th birthday of John Grimes in Harlem, 1935. Baldwin also uses extended flashback episodes to recount the lives of John’s parents and aunt and to link this urban boy in the north to his slave grandmother in an earlier South.
The Pageturners comments included: “far too much religion, it lost me, religion was a huge part of their lives, hypocrisy of religion, intense characters, it made an impression, very intense, symbolic power, felt for the wives and the children, it is about power and control, corruption, highlights the reality for women, shows the huge hold religion can have on people, amazing it all happens in the space of one day, loved how the story was told by weaving back through the lives of characters, loved Aunt Florence, nothing has changed, there needed to be less hollering and more telling of the story, religion gave them hope.
And as usual our discussion digressed and it didn’t take long before we were talking about Trump and US elections, a recent ABC 4 Corners episode about women in politics, morals, behaviour, Bill Clinton, Hollywood and more.
Pageturners enjoyed an interesting lunchtime discussion about All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton. A story about gifts that fall from the sky, curses we dig from the earth and the secrets we bury inside ourselves. All Our Shimmering Skies is an odyssey of true love and grave danger, of darkness and light, of bones and blue skies.
Comments from the discussion included: “enjoyed it, semi-magical quests, fairytale, beautiful, loved the setting, bleak beginning, appreciated historical and fantasy element, didn’t expect it to be so uplifting, really was a pageturner, so poetic, appreciative of the bush, you notice the writing, a bit far-fetched with things dropping out of the sky, loved it, the travelling companions have gifts like any quest, you can compare it with the Wizard of Oz, a lot of themes, it is almost a Young Adult book, the war bits on Darwin were well written, the mother was inspirational – she was so peaceful and clam, the curse made it a little mysterious, it was about the glowing lust for gold or capitalism and taking responsibility.”
Join us for this classic read. Born in 1924 in New York City, James Baldwin published the 1953 novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, going on to garner acclaim for his insights on race, spirituality and humanity.
Baldwin said, “is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else.” Go Tell It On The Mountain, is Baldwin’s first major work, a novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935.
Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.
Join in the discussion on Wednesday 11 November from 5.30pm – 7pm at Orange City Library. Bookings via eventbrite required. Please note due to COVID-19 NSW Health Regulations the group will be limited to 10 and refreshments will not be served. Please bring your own beverages and snacks to enjoy. See you then.
Join us for a discussion about the new book All Our Shimmering Skies by Australian author Trent Dalton. All Our Shimmering Skies is set in Darwin in 1942. As Japanese bombs rain down, motherless Molly Hook, the gravedigger’s daughter, turns to the sky for guidance. She carries a stone heart inside a duffel bag, next to a map that leads to Longcoat Bob, the deep-country sorcerer who put a curse on her family. By her side are the most unlikely travelling companions: Greta, a razor-tongued actress, and Yukio, a fallen Japanese fighter pilot. Beyond the bush lies the treasure. Close behind them trails the dark. And above them, always, are the skies.
All Our Shimmering Skies is a story about gifts that fall from the sky, curses we dig from the earth and the secrets we bury inside ourselves. This book comes two years after the release of his phenomenal bestseller, Boy Swallows Universe – a book which took home a record-breaking five Australian Book Industry Awards and was longlisted for the 2019 Miles Franklin Literary Award.
Pageturners Lunchtime Meeting will be held on Wednesday 11 November at 12.30pm. Bookings via Eventbrite required. Please note due to COVID-19 NSW Health Regulations the group will be limited to 10 people and refreshments will not be served but you are welcome to bring your own lunch and beverage to enjoy in the Library. See you then.
‘Two years before leaving home my father said to my mother that I was very ugly. The sentence was uttered under his breath, in the apartment that my parents, newly married, had bought in Rione Alto, at the top of Via San Giacomo dei Capri. Everything – the spaces of Naples, the blue light of a very cold February, those words – remained fixed. But I slipped away, and am still slipping away, within these lines that are intended to give me a story, while in fact I am nothing, nothing of my own, nothing that has really begun or really been brought to completion: only a tangled knot, and nobody, not even the one who at this moment is writing, knows if it contains the right thread for a story or is merely a snarled confusion of suffering, without redemption.’
From Elena Ferrante’s The Lying Life of Adults
Giovanna’s pretty face has changed: it’s turning into the face of an ugly, spiteful adolescent. But is she seeing things as they really are? Into which mirror must she look to find herself and save herself?
She is searching for a new face in two kindred cities that fear and detest one another: the Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and the Naples of the depths, which professes to be a place of excess and vulgarity. She moves between these two cities, disoriented by the fact that, whether high or low, the city seems to offer no answer and no escape.
To discover more about this book here’s a review from The Guardian.
Netflix have announced it will be on the small screen.
Described as a powerful new novel set in a divided Naples by Elena Ferrante, the beloved best-selling author of My Brilliant Friend, Pageturners had plenty to talk about with The Lying Life of Adults.
The Lunchtime Pageturners Group had mixed feeling about the book. Comments inlcuded: “Don’t know why it is getting rave reviews, what is there to like?Author very clever – the girl was anxious, annoying – I kept saying stop it, it was unexpected but I persevered, had an impact on me mentally and emotionally, out of my comfort zone, Ferrante very clever to put us in the mind of a girl, her mood was up and down, huge drama, everything was a drama, very skillful, the language was a theme about the different dialects, the picture she painted of Naples, tension between classes, really enjoyed it, the bracelet was a bad luck charm – bad for whoever had it – it symbolised the Lying Life of Adults – you were a prisoner if you owned it, you didn’t really know the truth of the bracelet, the voice best captures teenage girls, she was obsessed with her parents,
don’t like the book, the girls actions were selfish, obsessive, self-serving. it was an uncomfortable book, everything unraveled, she put Roberto on a pedestal, it was a pageturner, didn’t like the style of writing – too disjointed, long sentences, she was overthinking everything in her head, unrealistic storyline, here is truth in the title.”
The average rating was 3 out of five.
November Lunchtime Read
The next book for discussion will be the newly released book by internationally bestselling Australian author Trent Dalton titled All Our Shimmering Skies on Wednesday 11 November 12.30pm – 1.30pm. Book your place here or call Jasmine at Orange City Library on 6393 8125.
So the Evening Pageturners Discussion Group also had mixed feelings on The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante. They praised the writing but said they felt little connection with the dislikable characters.
Comments included: “How? Why? is this book a bestseller and so popular? I did not enjoy it, I didn’t hate it, I was conscious it was a translation, it made me feel uncomfortable, adults do lie and she could lie with the best of them, it just went on and on, you never find out if Vittoria is really ugly or is it her character that’s ugly, there were some good parts, it has glowing reviews, everyone was ugly and self-indulgent and self-absorbed, not likeable at all, detested this book, the language didn’t match a young teenage girl, captured the insecurities of a teenager, there are other ways to write about these themes of teenage angst that are not so tedious, the bracelet was a symbol of things being impermanent, you could read into it a lot of things, it was so detailed, well I loved it, it was so passionate, every character was so complicated, there was layer upon layer of complications in all the relationships, I really was caught up in the story and her feelings about everything that happened to her and that she instigated, that ugly comment was shattering to her, Roberto was perfect, it was more of a ladies book, I didn’t like one single character, it was toxic and negative.”
And the ratings were a fairly low average of 2 out of five.
November Evening Read
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 11 November at 5.30pm – 7pm to discuss James Baldwin’s American classic novel Go Tell It on the Mountain. It is Baldwin’s first major work, published in 1953 and recently re-published. Book your place for the meeting here or call Jasmine at Orange City Library on 6393 8125.
Pageturners enjoyed a wonderful chat about the Pip Williams debut novel The Dictionary of Lost Words on Wednesday evening.
There was high praise for this book and its characters. The story centres around Esme who spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the first Oxford English Dictionary. Over time Esme creates her own dictionary of words meaningful to women. It becomes an emotional story with other historical figures and interweaves the themes of women’s equality, the suffrage movement, class, motherhood and more.
Pageturner comments included “an intelligent and rewarding book, really liked it, thought how she recorded women’s meanings of words absolutely wonderful, enjoyed second half more than the first, it took a while to get into, it made me cry, lyrical and thought–provoking, beautiful insight, reminder of how life was once quite slow, loved the character Lizzie, all the characters are believable, I liked that it jumped ahead, loved the language in Ditte’s letters, the wordslip definitions were one of my favourite aspects, distressed about the ending, if you are into words – it is a great book to read.”
Ratings out of 5 were given: 4.5, 4, 4, 4, 126.96.36.199.
Pip Williams Video Chat showing her treasure trove of items related to the book.
Next Read – October
The October read for Pageturners is Elena Ferrante’s The Lying Life of Adults. It will be the book for discussion on Wednesday October 14 at the new daytime session 12.30pm – 1.30pm or evening session 5.30pm – 7pm at Orange City Library. Please book your place via Eventbrite for either of these sessions.
Named one of 2016’s most influential people by TIME Magazine and frequently touted as a future Nobel Prize-winner, Elena Ferrante has become one of the world’s most read and beloved writers. The Lying Life of Adults is her first standalone (and first work of published fiction) since her mega-hit Neapolitan Quartet. See you in October.