Camposol Reading Group managed to meet in early January to discuss the two books we read during December. Both novels prompted interesting debate as usual!
All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle is a pleasant, easy read, telling the tale of Hubert, from when he arrived in England from Jamaica in the early 1960s to the present day living as an elderly widower in Bromley. This novel was largely enjoyed by everyone, with strong characterisation and interesting storytelling, alternating chapters on Hubert’s life when he first came to London with his rather lonely life now.
We discussed prejudices that people experienced in the mid-20th Century, and the battles faced by many. Hubert had overcome many early difficulties and found happiness with his wife and two children in a mixed race marriage. The part of the book we least enjoyed was the fact that Rose, his daughter, was supposedly coming to visit from Australia, but then it was revealed that she had been dead five years and although imaginary phone calls with her each week were credible given Hubert’s loneliness, the impending arrival of Rose was not. We felt the themes of depression, loyalty and loneliness were explored well in the novel and it was uplifting despite the death of his wife and daughter and no reconciliation with his addict son David. The positive aspect of the book came from Hubert meeting many people on his quest to ‘end loneliness in Bromley’.
The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman was also well received by the group as a whole. This book was set in a café in South London, where several customers were held hostage by a crazy man with a gun, who had just shot the café owner dead. It was a clever novel that brought about a change of attitude in the reader. The person you saw just as a murderer initially won much sympathy as the pages were turned and the victim became more disliked as each chapter unfolded. Other characters were gradually revealed and explored as the story was told. We particularly liked Mutesi, the grandmother and nurse from Rwanda. Although we were shocked and saddened by the end of the book, we felt the final chapter closed the story appropriately.
Our books for February are:
The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud
If you would like any further details about Camposol Reading Group, please contact Angela Jones on 626 736 874