Book Club at the Bookshop

Aldeburgh Book Club at The Aldeburgh Bookshop

All are welcome: read the book, then come along at 6.00 pm once a month to the Bookshop.  We provide chairs, a glass of wine and a crisp or two, plus, I hope, some excellent discussion.  It's always interesting.

Monday 6th August

Rainsongs by Sue Hubbard

Landscape and seascape are central to poet Sue Hubbard’s elegiac story of loss and valediction. Newly widowed, Martha Cassidy returns to her husband’s writing retreat, a cottage on the Kerry coast, “the end of the world with nothing between her and America except the cold sea”.

Monday 3rd September 2018

Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale

Take Nothing With You is a compassionate, compelling new novel of boyhood, coming of age, and the confusions of desire and reality.

We have 12 advance copies of Patrick Gale's new novel, Take Nothing With You, available for our bookclub to read -- we will have to share these advance copies between us -- so we can read the book before Patrick's visit in September.  Email me to reserve a copy: they will be with us in a few days time.

Patrick Gale is coming to Aldeburgh for HighTide Festival.   He will be in conversation with Catherine Larner on Saturday 13th September.  Tickets are available now from the HighTide Box Office:

Patrick Gale’s sixteenth novel, A Place Called Winter was a Radio 2 Book Club selection, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Prize, the Walter Scott Prize and the Green Carnation Award and and is now being developed as a television serial. His two-part film, Man in an Orange Shirt formed the centrepiece of the BBC’s Gay Britannia season last summer.

Catherine Larner is a writer, editor and presenter. She contributes profiles and articles on literature, art and design for national magazines, hosts author talks for festivals and events, and co-presents a monthly on-air book club with Lesley Dolphin on BBC Radio Suffolk.


Monday 1st October 2018

Visit to the Peter Owen Publishers Archive in Saxmundham
and Presentation of Finding Nemon by Aurelia Young

Peter Owen (1927–2016) started his company aged twenty-four with a typewriter as his only equipment. As the company started to flourish– his first editor was Muriel Spark--he was able to bring some of the very best international literature to what was a very insular British market.

In the decades since then, Peter Owen Publishers continues the tradition of producing new and interesting writing. The company has published seven Nobel Prize winners, including Hermann Hesse, Octavio Paz and Isaac Bashevis Singer, and boasts a backlist that includes some of the most talented and important writers from all over the world.

Managing Director Nick Kent and Antonia Owen have recently moved the entire archive to Saxmundham and they have kindly invited us to visit.  We will also be introduced to Aurelia Young, whose book about her father the sculptor Oscar Nemon will be published by Peter Owen Books at the end of September.

There will be room for about 12 people on this visit, so could you sign up here if you are interested in coming.  We will meet at Saxmundham.

Click here to read more about Aurelia Young and her father.


July  Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

June  Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

May  Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

April  In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott

March: Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

February: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

January: The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter






August: Red Notice by Bill Browder

July: Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

June: Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika 

May: Morning Sea by Margaret Mazzantini.

April: The End of Eddy by Louis Edouard 

March: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

February: Golden Hill by Francis Spufford


December:  A Life Discarded by Alexander MastersThank you, Tom, we had an interesting discussion --much to talk about this surprising and unusual biography.

November: Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift.  Almost unanimous liking for this exquisite novella.  Thank you Lysie Kihl for introduction.

October: Submission by Michel Houellebecq.  Articulately introduced by Lily Todd, opinion was divided by this controversial dystopian satire.

September:   Cuckoo by Nick Davies

August  Sandlands by Rosy Thornton

July    Latecomers by Anita Brookner

June     The Siege by Helen Dunmore

May    What Maisie Knew by Henry James

April     M Train by Patti Smith 

March   Miss Emily by Nuala O'Connor

We thank Lesley Cassie for introducing us to Nuala O'Connor's haunting novel about Emily Dickinson and her maid.  Lesley taught early American literature at the University of Roehampton and at University College London.  She discussed the ideas of transcendentalism in Dickinson's life and thought, and the huge number of Irish immigrants in America at this time. At one point 70% of the servants in Boston were Irish and of these two thirds were women.  On the whole I got the impression that everyone enjoyed the book and there was consensus that the ending was disappointing. 

February   Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell

January    Air and Angels by Susan Hill.  One of Susan Hill's finest novels, set in Cambridge and India

Past Meetings 2015

December.  Nicola Barker's The Burley Cross Postbox Theft
November.  Barbara Pym's novel Excellent Women

October.  John Cheever, Collected Stories, and George Saunders, Tenth of December.   We have chosen two American short story writers, one classic, one contemporary.  It doesn't matter if we don't all read the same stories, but I would recommend The Swimmer and The Enormous Radio in the Cheever collection. 

September.  Never Mind by Edward St. Aubyn.  First of the five Patrick Melrose novels.

AugustThey Were Counted by Miklos Banffy.  Volume one in the magnificent Transylvanian Trilogy. 

June.  Do No Harm, Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh.  

May.  My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. 

April.  All That Is by James Salter.

MarchThe Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett

FebruarySuspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano.

JanuaryThe Circle by Dave Eggers provoked very mixed reactions.  Good for discussion!

Past Meetings 2014

December.  The Sailor in the Wardrobe by Hugo Hamilton.

November.  Flight Behaviour by Barbra Kingsolver.

October.  The Death of Lucy Kyte with the author, Nicola Upson.

September.  Levels of Life by Julian Barnes.

August.  Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig.

July.  The Dubliners by James Joyce.

May.  The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin.

April.   Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan.

March.  Conversation with Liz Calder, publisher and editor.

February.  Nobel-prize winning Alice Munro's short stories: Dear Life.

January.  Christopher Nicholson's new novel, Winter

Past Meetings 2013

December.  Iain Banks, Complicity.

November.  Booker-Short-listed novel, A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki.

October.  The work of Barbara Comyns.

September.  Author John Rogers talked about his book The Undelivered Mardle.

August.  The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald.

July. The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay.

June.  What Good are the Arts by John Carey.

May.  A Perfectly Good Family by Lionel Shriver.

April.  Pereira Maintains by Antonio Tabucchi.

March.  The ornithological classic The Peregrine by J. A. Baker.  Keen and informed birdwatcher Hilary Graham led the discussion.  Hilary introduced The Peregrine and discussed the context and history of nature writing, from such famous authors as Gilbert White of Selbourne to present day writers like Richard Mabey (Nature Cure) and Mark Cocker (Crow Country). 

February.   Lawson's invited us in to their kitchen to discuss Annie Bell's Soup Glorious Soup and The Soup Book, edited by Sophie Grigson.

January.  The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad.

Past Meetings 2012

December.  Conversations with Cavendish Morton by Bella Janson.

November.  Author Jon Canter joined us to discuss his novel Worth

OctoberThe Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje.



This is recommended by our November speaker Jon Canter.   First published in 1907, it is set in 1886: it deals with anarchism and terrorism.  It has inspired and disturbed its readers over the last century to produce films (by Hitchcock and others), plays, television versions, an opera, countless academic articles and even acts of violence (the Unibomber is thought to have been influenced by the novel).

One recent reviewer commented 'I’ve just re-read Conrad’s The Secret Agent and found it as fresh and relevant today as when I first read it about thirty years ago.  The Secret Agent reminds its readers that Victorian London was a place where terrorism and bombing were feared: the threat of anarchy and revolution was never too far from public consciousness. Despite its serious theme, the book is very funny with almost all the characters failing to cope successfully with the complex situations they have to deal with.'

© Aldeburgh Bookshop    T: +44 (0) 1728 452389    42 High Street, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, IP15 5AB, England    
Site Map