Article by Leni Hurley
On February 22nd, we gathered in my house in Oirschot to discuss our chosen book for the month, Reading in the Dark, written by the Irish writer Seamus Deane.
If you always wanted to know what it was like for a Roman Catholic to grow up in Northern Ireland in the years after the independence of the Republic of Ireland in the south, and before the outbrake of the infamous “Troubles” in the north, then this is the book for you. It is set in Londonderry, in a Catholic Irish community, in the years between 1920 and 1957, when British rule over the Catholic communities was oppressive and intimidating, belittling and condecensing. It was a time, also, of continued oppression and initmidation by the Catholic church over its own flock, but that is, or was, of all times and places. The ordinary Catholics, in other words, were second class citizens in every sense of the word. They were barred from all government jobs, including the police and the army, hence, the hostility and distrust between the two communities in, and especially between the local police force and the Catholic citizens. It is in this atmosphere, that the main character in the book grows up. He is an intelligent lad who, over the years, pieces together what took place in his family before he was born, and how it continues to poison and darken the atmosphere within his family and community into the present. It’s a book about the consequences of apartheid: it’s about brutality, betrayal and mistrust. But it is also about enduring love.
As Anne summed it up in the end: While not everyone had finished the book, those who did, enjoyed it, finding it’s writing poetic. The Ireland it describes…such a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!
Article by Jessica Lipe
With our book club members having come from a variety of countries, with varied interests and tastes in books, it is rare to find a book so widely enjoyed by everyone. As we gathered in Jessica’s living room on Tuesday evening, the sounds of the driving rain and wind were drowned out by the excited voices in discussion. Would you have opened the letter? What was up with the Berlin Wall references? Questions and insight flowed throughout the evening, because as it turns out, Liane Moriarty’s novel The Husband’s Secret isn’t quite as chic-lit as the title suggests. Amidst the failing marriages, Tupperware parties, and betraying friends (it is a book marketed for women, after all), Liane Moriarty poses questions regarding how much a person can be singularly defined by a past mistake, the experiences of guilt and grief, and how well we can truly know another person. Interwoven throughout it is nagging question which most of us can relate to—What if it had been different?
Calling into question the actions of characters in the book and their motivations, many of us made connections to similar themes in their own lives and shared them with the group. Some of us have been with TIC for years while others only just arrived in the Netherlands and joined the group. It was a gezellig evening of getting to know each other better by sharing our reflections on The Husband’s Secret.
Some from the group would also recommend other books by Liane Moriarty. A couple of us listened to audio versions of the book and highly recommend it. Moriarty and the narrator of her audiobook are Australian, and the accent and excellent narration add to the experience.
From Publisher’s Weekly:
“Simultaneously a page-turner and a book one has to put down occasionally to think about and absorb, Moriarty’s novel challenges the reader as well as her characters, but in the best possible way.”