Leaving the World by Douglas Kennedy

 

About the Book

On the night of her thirteenth birthday, Jane Howard made a vow to her warring parents – she would never get married and she would never have children.

But life, as Jane discovers, is a profoundly random business. Many years and many lives later, she is a professor in Boston, in love with a brilliant, erratic man named Theo. And then she falls pregnant. Motherhood turns out to be a great welcome surprise – but when a devastating turn of events tears her existence apart she has no choice but to flee all she knows and leave the world.

Just when Jane has renounced life itself, the disappearance of a young girl pulls her back from the edge and into an obsessive search for personal redemption. Convinced that she knows more about the case than the police do, she is forced to make a decision – stay hidden or bring to light a shattering truth.

Like Kennedy’s previous highly acclaimed novels, Leaving the World, speaks volumes about the dilemmas we face in trying to navigate our way through all that fate throws in our path.

 

Reviewed by Chorus

A novel ripe for discussion: an entertaining but floored plot. Gave us a very good lively discussion comprising very different opinions

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We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

About the book

Who is to blame for teenage atrocity? Narrator Eva Khatchadourian’s son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and the much-loved teacher who tried to befriend him. This novel is an examination of the effect tragedy has on a town, a marriage and a family.

Review By WEA Afternoon

This book prompted the longest discussion we have ever had. In general it was well received but a small minority found the characters and plot of no interest. The ending came as a huge surprise to most people.

Star rating ***

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The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell

About the book

When the sophisticated Innes Kent turns up on her doorstep, Lexie Sinclair realises she cannot wait any longer for her life to begin, and leaves for London. There, at the heart of the 1950s Soho art scene, she carves out a new life. In the present day, Elina and Ted are reeling from the difficult birth of their first child. Elina struggles to reconcile the demands of motherhood with sense of herself as an artist, and Ted is disturbed by memories of his own childhood that don’t tally with his parents’ version of events. As Ted begins to search for answers, an extraordinary portrait of two women is revealed, separated by fifty years, but connected in ways that neither could ever have expected.

Reviewed by Andover Library Reading Group:

Despite a slow start we were drawn into the story. Several twists held our interest. Needing to know the connections between families and individuals kept us reading. Good story.

Star rating: ***

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The Story of You by Julie Myerson

About the book

This book begins with snow, the story of you. It is a freezing room in a student house, a sagging mattress on the floor, and two people, one nineteen, the other twenty, kissing passionately, all night. It is to this scene that, twenty years later, Rosy, the narrator of Julie Myerson’s astonishing new novel, returns obsessively. She has just lost a child in a terrible, careless accident, and Tom, her partner, has taken her to Paris to forget about things, to start again. It has snowed in the night and, waking at dawn, Rosy decides to go for a walk. At the hotel desk there’s a note for her: ‘I’m waiting for you X.’ And he is, sitting in the corner of a cafe as she enters almost at random. They talk. He touches her. She turns away and when she looks again he is gone. Was he there? Had she dreamed him? And why, when he e-mails her out of the blue two days later, does he write as though they haven’t met for twenty years? The Story of You is an account of a woman trying to get by as a mother, a wife, while falling in love with a man from a memory.

Reviewed by Abbotts Ann WI Reading Group:

At first, most readers thought this would be a difficult book to finish but, after a few chapters, although not always clear as to what was actually happening – concluded that it was an interesting concept and thought provoking.

Star rating: **

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