Our next Book Club is on 24 September

Join us from 7pm in the CUBE! 

The books for discussion this month were Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson & Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

A Brief Synopsis

In 1985 Jeanette Winterson’s first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, was published. It tells the story of a young girl adopted by Pentecostal parents. The girl is supposed to grow up and be a missionary. Instead she falls in love with a woman. Disaster.

Oranges was semi-autobiographical. Mrs Winterson, a thwarted giantess, loomed over that novel and its author’s life. When Jeanette finally left her home, at sixteen, because she was in love with a woman, Mrs Winterson asked her: why be happy when you could be normal?

This book is the story of a life’s work to find happiness. It is a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a tyrant in place of a mother, who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the duster drawer, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in an northern industrial town now changed beyond recognition, part of a community now vanished; about the Universe as a Cosmic Dustbin. It is the story of how the painful past Jeanette Winterson thought she had written over and repainted returned to haunt her later life, and sent her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her real mother. It is also a book about other people’s stories, showing how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life-raft which supports us when we are sinking.

Our CUBE Book Club Review:

The group had mixed feelings about this book, most agreed that the writing was chaotic and fragmented but came to the conclusion that this reflected her life and is why it is written in this style. The writing is very self-aware and quotes a lot of other books including her first novel Oranges are not the only fruit.

Lucy 4/10- Struggled with the chaotic structure of the book and the fragmented structure made it slow going for her

Stephen 4/10– Again struggled with this book saying it was hard to read and reflected the authors unstable nature.

Rachel 10/10 – In contrast to everyone else really enjoyed this book, enjoyed the stories and looking at a life different to her own

So on average we decided to score this book 7/10

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

A Brief Synopsise

In 1941, Irene Nemirovsky sat down to write a book that would convey the magnitude of what she was living through by evoking the domestic lives and personal trials of the ordinary citizens of France. Nemirovsky's death in Auschwitz in 1942 prevented her from seeing the day, sixty-five years later, that the existing two sections of her planned novel sequence, Suite Francaise, would be rediscovered and hailed as a masterpiece. Set during the year that France fell to the Nazis, Suite Francaise falls into two parts. The first is a brilliant depiction of a group of Parisians as they flee the Nazi invasion; the second follows the inhabitants of a small rural community under occupation. Suite Francaise is a novel that teems with wonderful characters struggling with the new regime. However, amidst the mess of defeat, and all the hypocrisy and compromise, there is hope. True nobility and love exist, but often in surprising places.

Our CUBE Book Club Review:

Sue – 8/10 Written with Janes Austin’s wit and insight into the society she is living in. The biting satire about middle class Paris makes this one of her favourite books.

Others in the group disagreed and said that they did not feel they got to know the characters so overall we gave this a book a score of 7/10

It did bring about a lively discussion about the 2nd world war and how people managed to keep alive their passions such as writing and music. Lucy and Sam shared their experience of visiting and working at The National Holocaust Centre and Museum in Newark and recommended that everyone should visit to gain more insight into the holocaust and also genocide is still happening today.

The website is also really interesting and worth looking at.


After discussing quite emotional subjects we discussed that we needed to select a happy and a sad book each month!

At our next meeting we will be deciding the books for the next few months. If you have any ideas & would like to join us please feel free to come along!  

See you next time


CUBE Café Manager



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