Yes, I'm in a book club. You mean you're not? Then pop along to your library or bookshop and find one immediately; grovel on your hands and knees when you ask to be let in or, failing that, get a few friends together and start your own. Mine is in its tenth year and going from strength to strength. I'm still not sure who is going to like what and I am often surprised by people's choices but the fact that I have now read umpteen books that otherwise I wouldn't have even registered, let alone read, has been...well, darlings, I have to say, it's been marvellous.
This weekend I read one of Patrick O'Brian's sea faring tales. I only knew of his existence because of the movie, Master and Commander, I hadn't realised that the movie was based on a compilation of several of the twenty books O'Brian wrote starring Jack Aubrey and his doctor pal, Maturin.
Now, there's only so many technical terms for bits of sailing ship that I can take. Minus a map and with my woeful knowledge of C19th history I nearly baled out several times, but the knowledge that I would be attending the group without having read it kept me going. And guess what? On P113, I suddenly started to like it. By the end, I was quite taken. It was a very odd read though. During discussion I realised that reading the previous eighteen books might have helped understand the big story, but it didn't matter really. It didn't matter that I had to re-read bits owing to their obscurity, that I didn't understand half the plot or most of the minutiae concerning the navy and sailing ships either. What I did like was the oddity of the construction and the focus on the humdrum lives, their clothes, food, manners and the description of natural history and scientific discovery.
Riveting, I can hear you thinking. No, it isn't exactly that, but it does cast a spell and an unexpected one. I might read another, and I suspect that's how a little obsession starts. Patrick O'Brian was completely obsessed, no question. All that research, twenty books (written in longhand) with the same two characters? Perhaps that's why I like it, because from in between the lines shines forth a lifelong passion for his subject. A dull glow to begin with, by the end, I felt positively illuminated. I was very surprised.
Good old book group. Thanks, Penny, good choice. I'll add it to the list right away and if I work out how to copy it here, I will.