I never fail to be amazed by the capacity of our species to induce surprise.
Two things astounded me so much at this week’s brookgroup that for what seemed like an age when each was revealed I was actually lost for words.
The first related to something that happened last time out when a member of the group said that she had been reading a novel which sounded very interesting.
After her summary I mentioned that it sounded right up my street and made a point to note the author’s name and the title of the book.
So surprise number one occurred when, at this week’s meeting, she produced a copy of the book and gave it to me, saying I could borrow it for as long as I needed. From anyone else this would be generous enough but the person in question usually comes across as one who is slightly aloof, a tiny bit prickly and very formal.
It seemed such an unexpected gesture of… friendship?… that I was quite staggered.
To get to the second surprising thing I need to go further back than last time.
At a meeting a few months I mentioned one of the works I had just finished reading ‘off the reading list’, was a novel by Adam Hall.
The Lovely S later told me that I’d raved about this novel in a (for me) typically overenthusiastic manner.
I do like Adam Hall’s style. He wrote under two names -his real identity of Elleston Trevor and the pseydonym: Adam Hall. And he wrote completely differently in the guise of each author.
Adam Hall author wrote sharp, detailed, punchy espionage/thriller novels.
Elleston Trevor wrote slightly flowery, very literary, a little over-grammatical works.
Ironically one of Elleston Trevor’s novels was turned in to a hugely successful Hollywood film with an international cast that included Ernest Borgnine, James Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Peter Finch, Hardy KrÃ¼ger and George Kennedy. And how’s that for a top rate cast?
So imagine my surprise when another bookgroup member, one who I’d viewed as slightly prickly and a little aloof, told me that she had tracked down one of the out of print novels by Adam Hall from a supplier in London, had ordered it, received it and finished reading it and wished to thank me for introducing her to a work and a strand of genre that she wouldn’t normally have picked up.
And then she said that she enjoyed the author so much she would be ordering other copies of his work.
How cool is that?
How cool are both of these things?
And also, how cool are these people?
Anyway the bookgroup evening -with me sitting in for The Lovely S who was being all academic in Wales.
Went really well.
They indulged me and (figuratively) held my hand.
No-one walked out, no-one threw food at me or booed me.
So in terms of how it went I’d say it was a moderate success, except…
Black Swan Green -the book of the month.
It took a bit of a pounding from the group; I’m not going to do a full review.
I’ll just say that the consensus of opinion was that Black Swan Green was over-long, carried too many bookmarks and could have been written more sympathetically.