Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Review written by Yvonne member of the reading group.

The introduction to Gone girl starts by describing the need, a previously successful couple, have to move back to the husbands childhood home in a small town in Missouri.

The story then moves back to when successful girl meets successful boy who fall in love and marry and are just “so happy” in their New York home.

However girl loses her job soon to be followed by boy loses job.

The move to small town Missouri follows. Girl disappears, house looks ransacked, traces of blood found in the kitchen, conclusion, husband murdered her.

Don’t be fooled there’s a lot more story with so many twists and turns, it’ll keep you guessing and turning the pages right to the very last page.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Review written by one member of the reading group:

Last month’s book club choice, “The Storyteller” by Jodi Picoult, encompassed three main themes: trauma, justice and forgiveness.
Minka is a young Jew living in Poland before and during Nazi occupation. The book vividly contrasts her carefree life before, with the increasingly narrow existence forced upon the community followed by all the horrors of survival in a concentration camp where two German brothers were posted. The description of their upbringing, indoctrination into the Nazi party, prompted discussion about how individuals, as well as groups, can be drawn into committing increasingly horrible acts. Do individuals always ultimately have responsibility for their own actions and what part do social pressures play?

The second theme of justice is explored through the character of Sage, a young women driven by guilt following a car accident which killed her mother and left her facially scarred. She comes from a Jewish family but doesn’t consider herself a Jew. Her Grandmother is Minka, whose fairytale about two brothers, based on folklore about monsters, is started as a carefree young Polish girl before Nazi occupation and continues during the horrors of loss and deprivation in a concentration camp. This encompasses questions about what it means to be a survivor, a story teller, a human being. ” Not all Jews were victims and not all Germans were murderers”. Minka’s story really made us examine that statement.

Sage meets a well liked and respected elderly man through a grief counseling group they both attend.  They have a connection and a friendship develops until he confesses that he was a Nazi officer who committed atrocities.  He wishes Sage to help him die but also wants her forgiveness as a Jew.  Horrified, she reports the confession.  As she and Leo, from the dept of Human Rights and Special Prosecutions,  search to establish the truth of his story, Sage uncovers her Grandmother’s history.  The question this raised was, can murder ever be justice, or mercy?

Forgiveness is the third theme. The issue was debated as to whether, by subsequently turning their lives around and trying to do good in the community, people deserve to be forgiven or should such horrific acts be unforgivable?

The end of the book has a twist that some saw coming and there was discussion about whether the ending was true to Sage’s character as well as debating its moral aspect.

Salt on our skin by Benoite Groult

Here is a review of the above book by one of our members:

This novel was chosen as a way of introducing the group to a French author. This was a novel the chooser had first read in 2009 and had found it to be a story that resonated with her, and the general consensus was that this was an extremely well-written story, enjoyed by all. However, we all agreed that when we first read the dust jacket we were all concerned that this would be a rather ‘scandalous’ text in the ’50 Shades of Grey’ vein; but we were all wrong!

This was a very ‘real’ story of a love affair between two very different people that spans the years from their late teens up to their 50s. There is some quite detailed description of their sex lives but this is real sex not the idealised ‘swinging from the chandeliers’ sex that many novels seem to describe. The author manages to keep a sense of realism and humour (‘soggy chips’ spring to mind) throughout, which we all appreciated. We also felt that this sense of realism comes across so well because of the quasi-autobiographical nature of the novel.

A lively discussion followed about the importance of sex in the novel, and a consensus was reached that whilst it was an important factor in the lives of the two main protagonists, this was only because of the time that passes between their meetings; in the end it is only a part of what binds them together. We also discussed the elements that separate the pair: George (without an ‘s’) comes from a well-off family living in Paris, and becomes a highly-acclaimed academic; whilst Gavin remains a ‘simple’ Breton fisherman (albeit a successful one). Again, the author very cleverly manages the tensions that these differences bring about and this was very much evident in the approach each takes to the trip to Disney. For some of us, George’s reactions very much mirror our own!

The author has produced some well-rounded characters, and whilst we did not all like George, we appreciated her need for love, and we loved the way Gavin’s character developed through the novel.

There was some debate regarding the title, as in the original French, ‘Le Vaisseaux du Coeur’, there are many meanings and we wondered why the editors had felt it necessary not to offer a more literal translation. The same issue arose regarding the name of the male lead; all the other characters retained their original names whilst his was changed from Gauvain to Gavin. That said, this was a novel we could all engage with and one we enjoyed and would recommend.

Rugby Club

Strictly for watchers rather than players!

A group of members who enjoy Rugby get together to watch matches on TV. The plan is that, in the future,  they will even attend matches in France and maybe other countries too. Details can be found on the newsletters.

Calling all Singers!!

Do you enjoy singing? Do you want to sing but don’t want the commitment (or
seriousness) of joining a choir?
Would you be interested in getting together with a few others maybe once every month or
so, just to sing for fun? All voices welcome, no experience necessary, you don’t have to
be able to read music, just have an ability to sing and want to do so for fun.

Contact Karen – contact details can be found on the latest newsletter.

Supported Charity 2015

Each year the Anglophone Association supports a charity which is voted on at the AGM. Our chosen Charity for 2015-16 is  le Centre Francois Baclesse

It is a cancer treatment centre in Caen.  Its mission is to ensure care, research and teaching exclusively in the cancerology field benefiting all Lower Normandy.

If you would like to find out more about them, you can check out their Website:  http://www.baclesse.fr   Telephone: 02 31 45 50 50

Throughout the year we raise money at events through raffles and other fun fundraising games for our members and, at the end of the year, this money is donated to our supported charity.



Previous Charities we have supported:

2014-2015 –  Association Solidarité Coutances Rwanda  and  St Lo Memorial Hospital
Association Solidarité Coutances Rwanda
This charity is based in Coutances and supports deprived villages in Rwanda. The charity is run locally and the money they raise goes straight to the people who need it with no middle men. They raise money to supply schools, teachers and all the books and pens and other facilities needed to enable the schools to run.

St Lo Memorial Hospital
The Franco-American hospital has a new project to raise €2 million Euros by 2016 to modernise the hospital’s cardiological and neurological facilities.

2013-2014 –  Les Petits Freres des Pauvres
An International non profit organisation created in 1946 to aid people over 50 years of age. They provide practical and emotional support for those alone, handicapped or poor. Volunteers make home visits, meet with the elderly in nursing or retirement homes, and they staff telephone call-in lines to relieve loneliness.

2012-2013 Cancer Support France Basse Normandie is an association affiliated to Cancer Support France, a group of regional associations, created to help English speaking people, wherever their origin, who are affected by Cancer.
For further information about CSF you can visit their website: www.csfbassenormandie.com/