The novels selected for November both had a theme of human hardship and trying to overcome the past; however, they were very different books and prompted much discussion at our December meeting.

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry was the novel that prompted most debate. It described the lives of several people living in India starting in the early 1970s. The book was accurately described by someone as ‘harrowing’. The lives of the main characters moved forward, yet never upwards and the despair, hardship and horror of their daily existence was excellently written. Themes of caste, corruption, poverty, depression, honour and pride were dealt with and we enjoyed pursuing these aspects. Several key characters in the novel were also the subject of much discussion. One group member reminded us that all the incidences in the novel are true; makes us very grateful to live in Europe! A stunning novel and one that will stay with us a long time, although perhaps difficult to call it ‘enjoyable’.

Our second book for November was The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, which was a pleasant contrast to Mistry’s book. This novel was set in the Southern states of America, and related the story of a young teenager, Lily, who left home and her abusive father to try and discover more about her mother who was killed when Lily was five. She found refuge (and later, some answers), living with a family of black sisters, who earned their living from bee keeping. We discussed the significance of the bee theme and what they meant to Lily; also, what she gained the most by living with the sisters (love and a surrogate family). We felt that she had no prejudice because she had seen her own black housekeeper as a mother, so it was natural to live with the sisters who gave the love, space, calmness and support she needed. An enjoyable novel.

Our December books were The Secrets Of Strangers by Charity Norman and All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle.

If you would like any more information about the Camposol Reading Group, please call Angela Jones on 626 736 874

Happy New Year to everyone.