Books & Meetings

For making contact, or for more information about the book club, meetings or meeting venue, please email the coordinator Tricia using  tricia@farnham.humanist.org.uk

Next book:
‘Piranesi’ by Susanna Clarke (2021)

This will be discussed on Monday January 31st 2021 at 12.30pm at a local pub. Please contact the coordinator Tricia by e-mail for more information tricia@farnham.humanist.org.uk

Tricia says: “If any one has already started Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky (book after Piranesi) you will have realised that this is really a trilogy and fairly lengthy. Shall we agree to at least read the first book The Midnight Bell..and more if we have time and inclination. Must say I love the writing and its a great piece of social history. The 30s were a very grim time indeed.”

Waterstones review
Weaving a rich gothic atmosphere, the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell mines a darkly fantastical vision with a tale of a very singular house and its mysterious inhabitants.

Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021
Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2020

Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has. In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides which thunder up staircases, the clouds which move in slow procession through the upper halls.

On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times he brings tributes of food and waterlilies to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone. Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they and what do they want? Are they a friend or do they bring destruction and madness as the Other claims?

Lost texts must be found; secrets must be uncovered. The world that Piranesi thought he knew is becoming strange and dangerous. The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.

MEDIA REVIEWS

‘Clarke’s fantastical parable of solitude, imagination, ambition and contentment is a spectacular piece of fiction, and the perfect reading accompaniment to a year like no other.’ – The Guardian, Best Fiction of 2020

‘A dazzling fable about loneliness, imagination and memory.’ – The Spectator

‘A novel to revisit – a house you can open again, with statues touched by quiet thoughts and strange tides … To read Piranesi is to be the labyrinth and the traveller in the labyrinth, which is poetry and prose.’ – The Observer

‘Piranesi astonished me. It is a miraculous and luminous feat of storytelling, at once a gripping mystery, an adventure through a brilliant new fantasy world, and a deep meditation on the human condition: feeling lost, and being found. I already want to be back in its haunting and beautiful halls!’ – Madeline Miller

‘What a world Susanna Clarke conjures into being, what a tick-tock-tick-tock of reveals, what a pure protagonist, what a morally squalid supporting cast, what beauty, tension and restraint, and what a pitch-perfect ending. Piranesi is an exquisite puzzle-box far, far bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.’ –  David Mitchell

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The book after that:

‘Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky’ (1935) by Patrick Hamilton

‘I recommend Hamilton at every opportunity, because he was such a wonderful writer and yet is rather under-read today. All his novels are terrific’ Sarah Waters

‘If you were looking to fly from Dickens to Martin Amis with just one overnight stop, then Hamilton is your man’ Nick Hornby

Patrick Hamilton’s novels were the inspiration for Matthew Bourne’s new dance theatre production, The Midnight Bell.

The Midnight Bell, a pub on the Euston Road, is the pulse of this brilliant and compassionate trilogy. It is here where the barman, Bob, falls in love with Jenny, a West End prostitute who comes in off the streets for a gin and pep. Around his obsessions, and Ella the barmaid’s secret love for him, swirls the sleazy life of London in the 1930s. This is a world where people emerge from cheap lodgings in Pimlico to pour out their passions, hopes and despair in pubs and bars – a world of twenty thousand streets full of cruelty and kindness, comedy and pathos, wasted dreams and lost desires.

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