In general we all agreed that the book club offers the opportunity to
read and discuss books that we may not normally choose for ourselves
and enjoy different types of writing. It can extend your reading list
and this we felt is one of the real benefits of the club.
The discussion about the book is a key part of our meetings and it is
important for all members to have equal opportunity to contribute.
We all enjoy the social aspect of the club and want the meals to
continue but feel that meals could be more modest.
In summary, we agreed that the book club should continue, but there
were some aspects that we should change or reaffirm.
The conclusions are as below.
1. Meetings will be chaired, Helen and Boo have agreed to do this but
any member is free to offer.
2. For Meetings with 10 or less members present, each person may speak
for 5 minutes without interruption. When more than 10 are present the
time will be reduced and agreed at the beginning of the meeting. Once
all members have spoken It will be opened to a general discussion.
3. Whenever possible all members will read the book and be in a
position to contribute to
4. Hosting will rotate.
5. The host will manage the menu asking for specific contributions of
food or wine.
6. Meeting reminder emails will be sent about 10 days before each
7. Members will reply to the host 1 week before the
8. The blog will continue. (Helen and Boo have agreed to do this)
Discussed and agreed 31 July 2016
Dr Thorne: Anthony Trollope.
When Dr Thorne was suggested to the book club, many members groaned
with the thought of another “English classic” or “old fashioned book”
but nevertheless once reading began, immediately drawn drawn into the
victorian life of 1858 when the book was first published. Everybody
seemed to conclude that they enjoyed the book and talked
enthusiastically at out meeting.
Several themes where drawn out during the discussion with most of book
club recognising that while the book was essentially a love story, it
is a social period piece analysing people and society, clearly
describing the aristocratic attitudes and behaviour of the day. In
particular we drew out the morality, the importance of status, birth
and manners and probably over and above all other things the need for
money to sustain the aristocratic pride and position in society.
We all felt that a strength of Trollope’s writing was his ability to
portray the characters with honesty and as well as describing their
strengths he also exposed their weaknesses, perhaps with the exception
of Mary, the main female character, who seemed almost saintly and for
some of us too good to be true.
We felt that some characters seemed more progressive for the period,
particularly Frank as he fought against the traditional view of his
aristocratic family. Frank was determined to marry Mary the woman he
loved, even with her low birth and assumed lack of money. He would not
be persuaded that he should “marry for money” to restore the family
estate and hence pride. He was willing to “work” rather than give way
to that pressure. However there was a feeling that Trollope avoided
exploring or developing the idea of the “work ethic” to any great
extent. Although in the case of Lord Scatcherd , it was clear that for
some hard work paid, and while Trollope showed the strength of his
character as he rose from a poor stone mason to a very rich business
man, he was then lost as the flaw or weakness in his character took
over as he drank himself to death. Thus proving that it was only the
aristocracy who have the moral fibre to hold such a position in
Many members commented that Trollope described the hypocrisy of the
aristocrats very well, particularly their ability to sweep aside a
troublesome problem when convenient, as Lady Arabella did on the
discovery that Mary had inherited a great deal of money and that by
marriage to Frank would save the face of the “Greshams of
Greshambury.” It mattered not that it was the “new money” of Lord
Scatherd or that Mary was of low birth.
For Trollope it seemed that writing came easily and the story flowed
with simple language, maybe sometimes over wordy but not convoluted
and perhaps with a hint of Dickens.
The author was ever present as the narrator of the book as he
interacted with the reader, almost as though he invited you to “open a
window and look into other lives” referencing what might come in the
future of this story or books to come, leaving the reader with the
impression they were somehow privy to some private information.
Trollope’s humour was evident through the names he gave his
characters, for example Dr Fillgrave, the lawyers Mr Slow and
Bideawhile, the scrutiniser of accounts Mr Gazebee and of course Lord
and Lady Scatcherd’s son Louis-Phillippe. Some thought that Dr
Thorne was possibly the “thorn in the side “ for many of the
characters as the principled, honest Doctor and confidante who maybe
on occasion was a bit above his station.
Towards the end of our discussion we had some debate about how, or if,
society has really changed and whether the same issues are pertinent
to modern day. We agreed that the gap between the rich and poor is
getting bigger and while the aristocratic class still exists the
social structure of today has changed with the emergence of the “new
rich” who sometimes have adopted aristocratic characteristics but that
they appear to display them differently.
In conclusion this was a book we all enjoyed which raised a number of
very topical issues.
Thank you to Janet and Elliot for hosting the meeting and to everyone
for their contributions.
The future meetings are agreed as:
Tuesday 20 September 7pm
Hosts Barbara and Steve.
Book; The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton proposed by Helen.
Wednesday 19 October 7pm
Book; Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. proposed by Steve.
Thursday 17 November 7pm
Book; Revolution Russell Brand proposed by Liz.
Friday 16 December 7pm
Book; Bird of Passage by Berenice Rubin proposed by Helen/Salene.