The Barga Book Club met on Wednesday in Albiano at the home of Anne and Rigo Capanni, still here processing their large olive harvest. The home reminded some of a welcoming gem like crofters dwelling or perhaps the gamekeepers cottage, from our recently reviewed selection Lady Chatterly’s Lover, equally hearth warmed, cozy and romantic and decidedly more finely furnished. It was the perfect setting for a rainy November evening.
After a delicious meal of savory and inventive dishes, and a taste test of the Capanni’s rich fresh olive oil processed in two different ways, we discussed The Red House by Mark Haddon. Following on his successful novels A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and A Spot of Bother, some readers were disappointed with this story of an extended family thrown together on holiday and its queer dysfunctionality. When mother dies the wealthy successful elder son invites his estranged sister and her family to join him and his family on holiday in Wales at his expense. Discomfort and irritability are the order of the days and personalities clash, hormones rage and the weather creates havoc. In other words, it ends up a disaster after several major life issues come to the fore and children and adults both have melt downs and serious relational problems surface.
Salene thoroughly enjoyed its readability and page-turner aspect, its believability and the fact that she could identify with the issues of the characters and saw it as an accurate statement on contemporary social issues. Krysia, although she had enjoyed his other titles found this to be confusing and difficult and she was frustrated with the lack of clarity in the writing itself, in the monologues and at times couldn’t tell who was speaking, all of which conspired to make it not a good reading experience. Others felt it was too much of a panoply of contemporary social ills and superficial solutions.
Whether we enjoyed it or not, as always, the book inspired lively discussion and had the knock on effect of eliciting references to other authors and titles, which is an objective benefit of the book club.
Thank you to everyone who participated and we look forward to seeing you at the next meeting.
January 22 at Palazzo Salvi, Spring Sonata by Bernice Rubens
February at Salene’s a selection by Doris Lessing
More from Barga Book Club can be read on their site here