The Lunchtime Reading Group Have Read – Requiem for a Wren
In September the lunchtime reading group met to discuss Nevil Shute’s Requiem for a wren. This very sad story opens with the return of rich farmer’s son Alan Duncan to his now elderly parents’ sheep station in Western Victoria in 1953, after several years away studying in England. His home-coming is marred by the seemingly inexplicable suicide of a parlour-maid the night before his arrival. The maid, a well-educated English girl called Jessie Proctor, whom his mother has come to rely on, seems to have destroyed every document that could help trace her family or friends. Convinced that in fact she has hidden the papers somewhere in the house, Alan sets out to investigate in order to try to spare his parents some pain. The group felt that they have rarely read an author that can tell an emotional story without gratuitous sentimentality. It’s one of those books in which not an awful lot happens but you just can’t put it down as it keeps you totally enthralled. We all agreed that Nevil Shute’s gentle and very clever way of telling a story utterly really shines through here. The group felt that this one really sneaks up on you as we slowly find ourselves caught up in the emotions of the characters, all of whose lives have been forever shaped and scarred by their experiences in WWII. Masterfully told in partial flashback, the mystery of the suicide of a parlour maid at an Australian sheep station turns out to have profound implications for everyone involved in her life. All agreed that this was a deeply moving and haunting novel and one that we were very pleased to have read.
The Lunchtime reading group will meet in October to discuss Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
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