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Book Club review: A Long Petal of the Sea

Tilburg International Club Expat Book ClubWe had a nice group of 8 members for our virtual Book Club for a lively discussion of A Long Pedal of the Sea by Isabel Allende.

This book followed 2 main characters from the Spanish civil war to the end of the military rule in Chile. In the late 1930s, civil war grips Spain.

When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love.

In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them desires. Together with two thousand other refugees, Roser and Victor embark for Chile on the SS Winnipeg, a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda: “the long petal of sea and wine and snow.” As unlikely partners, the couple embraces exile as the rest of Europe erupts in world war.

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#FBF: Book Club Review of We All Begin As Strangers

Next week we’ll meet up for another Book Club.  For #FlashbackFriday, here’s a look back at We All Begin As Strangers.

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12 November 2018. by Melissa Donders. After reading the book, We All Begin As Strangers by Harriet Cummings, an interesting discussion was had at tíc’s Book Club.

The book was set in a small village in England where the inhabitants were frightened when small items in their homes would be moved around, or things went missing. Slightly based on a true story, the book followed the lives of different characters and how the intruder, whom they dubbed ‘The Fox’, impacted their life.

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#FBF: Book Club review “The Coffee Trader”

Next week we’ll meet up for another Book Club.  For #FlashbackFriday, here’s a look back at The Coffee Trader.

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Expat Book Clubby Sondra Grace

14 May 2016. It may have been Venetians who introduced coffee to Europe, but it was Dutch merchant Pieter van den Broecke who smuggled coffee bushes out of Mocha (Yemen), and the Dutch East India Company that cornered the coffee market and supplied it from plantations in Java and Suriname. David Liss sets his historic novel The Coffee Trader in the rough and tumble commodities market of seventeenth century Amsterdam.

One would have thought that (more…)

Book Club review: Before the Coffee Gets Cold

by Anne van Oorschot

23 Jun 2020. Since our last book discussions had been virtual ones, it was a special treat to be able to actually get together this past June.

Tilburg International Club Expat Book ClubThere was still a virtual flavor to things as Katie, an active past TIC member who relocated to LA, California 7 years ago, had heard about our Book Discussion evening, read the book, and joined us as well. So the laptop was open on one end of the table which was very fun!!  The weather was beautiful so we sat outside in our back garden and enjoyed the scenery as well. Since the weather was warm, we skipped the hot tea and opted for ice cream…always a good choice!

The book had been suggested by Kelly who was unfortunately unable to attend, but she sent discussion questions and admitted she hadn’t liked the book. Actually, she thought it was terrible! (more…)

Book Club review: Flight Behavior

by Anne van Oorschot.

08 October 2020. With the Netherlands adopting stricter Corona rules – 3 guests per household – having our regular book discussion gathering was impossible.

Tilburg expat Book ClubFortunately, there are numerous online meeting platforms that make holding a virtual meeting easy to arrange and attend and I was happy to have a total of 9 attend our evening on October 8th. Two of those who attended were new to our small group and, while they hadn’t read the book, they wanted to get a feel for how our discussion evenings go.

While everyone was positive about the book, the intricacies of Kingsolver’s language, while nice once you got used to it, were initially challenging for those who were non-native English speakers. We saw similarities between the butterflies and Dellarobia, the main character, with her flame colored hair and her sense of being lost in her own life. It was interesting to see her change throughout the book: no more vanity so the needed glasses were always on, stop smoking, venturing out of her comfort zone to work with the scientists and finally taking charge of her life by setting a new course closer to her true desires for herself. We reflected on the pre-conceived notions both the area residents and the scientists had of each other. People the world over do the same thing, making it hard for differing groups to really see and understand each other. (more…)

Book review: Not Before Sundown (Do trolls really exist?)

Tilburg Expat Book Club

by Essi Koskela

27 Aug 2020. tíc book club’s summer reading Not before Sundown by Johanna Sinisalo is a reimagined story from a classic Finnish song, The Goblin and the Ray of Light.

We started our discussion session by listening to this sweet and melodic piece, before we immersed ourselves into the darker themes portrayed in the book. is a dark satire of Mikael, or Angel, a freelance photographer working in advertising, who adopts a young, abandoned troll from the streets of Tampere city. It turns out that trolls do not make good pets. Pessi, the troll, secretes intoxicating pheromones which produce an insidious effect on Mikael and everyone around him. The symbolism behind the power-battle of Pessi‘s influence and the civilized world around Mikael made an excellent discussion point, as Mikael starts to struggle with the beast within. With the words of the author herself: ‘the book deals with themes bigger than life: the relationship between man and nature; the problems of different kinds of otherness; and how our biological ancestry as hierarchical pack animals still affects us.’

Although the book is classified into science fiction or fantasy, only the existence of the endangered and rarely seen Tilburg Expat Book Clubtrolls separates the world in the story from reality. In fact, the writer has constructed such convincing pseudo-scientific biological origin for the troll species accompanied with numerous (real) references to Finnish literature and folklore about the trolls that it was easy to believe in the existence of trolls. Arguably trolls have been very much real in the Finnish way of life before modern civilisation finally reached all the far corners of wilderness in the country, and remnants of those beliefs are still reflected in the language and children’s imagination. One of Sinisalo’s reference books, “Memories from Lapland” by Samuli Paulaharju, from 1922, which I happened to have by chance, dedicates a whole chapter to trolls. From this book, I shared the divine origin story of trolls, fabricated in the typical half-pagan way of the Finns. As it turns out, trolls are the secret children of Adam and Eve, which God condemned to live underground after Eve wrongfully hid them.

The creation aside, religion is another prominent topic in the book, already given away by the heavenly name of Angel. I dare to say, the writer creates a juxtaposition between chaste protestant tradition and the biological beastly nature of human beings. We were not sure what to make out of this, as the story does not seem to resolve in favor of the other. Although in the case of Mikael, nature takes over.

Those of us who had completed the book agreed that it was an odd but delightful reading experience. Deceptively short with only 214 pages, Sinisalo’s story seemed to contain yet another layer in chapters unwritten. What happened to Mikael in the end? Why did the trolls take him among them? Was Palomita (the human-trafficked mail-order wife of Mikael’s neighbor) rescued? And most importantly, are trolls real and where can we find them?

#FBF: Book Club review of The Last Kingdom

Next week we will be meeting for our next book club; a gathering that sometimes has intense debates, but is always a lot of fun. For #FlashBackFriday, here’s a review from 2015!

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by Leni Hurley. 15 Mar 2020. The tíc Book Club met in Cafe Restaurant No Sikiriki, and the atmosphere was great. The book under discussion was The Last Kingdom, first volume in a series written by Bernard Cornwell. We all loved the book.

This may seem odd, given that we were all women and that this historical novel describes a pretty brutal man’s world. In the book we followed a young warrior’s epic adventure of courage, devotion, treachery, duty, battle and love. The time is the middle of the ninth century AD; the place – the British Isles. (more…)

Tour of LocHal and WWII Expo review

by Mala Raman

07 Mar 2020. Right behind the Tilburg Central Station in the Spoorzone, is an old industrial locomotive hall that has been transformed into a cutting edge library, The LocHal. The repair center from the 1930s has been converted into a modernist design filled with glass, stunning wooden staircases and light-filled, open-plan spaces all housed within the steel beams of the original locomotive center.

Our group of tíc members met here to explore this innovative building. The World Architecture Festival named the LocHal “2019 World Building of the Year”.
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Book Club review: Dark Matter

by Anne van Oorschot

28.05.2020. Our second Virtual Book Club gathering had members joined in by Zoom. I found it an interesting and different read and was curious to see what others thought of it.

‘Are you happy in your life?’ Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he wakes to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

While not everyone liked the book – it gave ample opportunity for discussion. (more…)

Join Book Club!

Are you up for a good discussion with a group of friendly book-lovers? Would you like to expand your reading horizons by reading a book you may not have chosen yourself? Do you want to spend a relaxed evening chatting about a book, and often many other life topics, with a cup of tea, coffee or perhaps glass of wine in your hand? Join tíc’s Book Club where we meet up approximately once every 6 weeks to discuss the latest book pick by the group. (more…)

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