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The Gaddesden Society Book Club

Book Club                                                

Twenty years of the Book Club


Founding and current members of the Little Gaddesden Book Club gathered in early October to celebrate twenty years of reading together!


We enjoyed a fabulous day with glorious weather at The Althorp Literary Festival and were entertained, amused and educated by a variety of interesting authors including Dan Snow, Paddy Ashdown and Earl Spencer! The Festival is well worth a visit. It’s a lot smaller than Cheltenham and Hay-on-Wye but that’s not a bad thing and the setting is quite beautiful! We all went off to The

Saracens Head pub in Little Brington in the evening and enjoyed a great supper together, when we all took part in a vote for the top five books in twenty years of reading. Here are the results!


‘The Hare with the Amber Eyes’                        Edmund de Waal

‘The Kite Runner ‘                                               Khaled Hosseini

‘A Fine Balance’                                                  Rohinton Mistry

‘The Paris Wife’                                                   Paula McLain

‘Any Human Heart’                                            William Boyd


All wonderful reads and if you are wondering whether to start up another Book Group or just want a short list of terrific ‘reads’, we think you can do no better!

Louise Archer

Book Reviews


‘In The Name Of The Family’ by Sarah Dunant

The conclusion of the Borgia story, following ‘Blood and Beauty’ which we read back in 2014, was good but not as good perhaps as the first part of the story, which was very well received. Often it does feel as though authors are 'using up' their research (Philippa Gregory, Pat Barker) and this did not feel as fresh as part one. Maybe because the characters we had become fond of had aged or been written out; Rodrigo (Pope Alexander) is waning and Cesare (the Mad Dog) is completely off his leash. We empathised with the notorious Lucrezia, maybe history has done her wrong! A fascinating new character is Machiavelli and, again, not as we have seen him portrayed in the past. Chevalier is good at humanising her characters and the settings are vivid. Apparently her research is meticulous so, though maybe not her best written book, it offers new insights, completes the saga and is still worth the (not very long) time it took to read.

Fiona Masters


‘Hag-Seed’ by Margaret Atwood

One of a series of ‘Shakespeare retold’ books commissioned by the Hogarth Press, this made us want to try other titles in the series: ‘Macbeth’ by Jo Nesbo, ‘The Gap of Time’ (Winter's Tale) by Jeanette Winterson, ‘New Boy’ (Othello) by Tracy Chevalier and several other titles by well-known authors.


I really enjoyed this unusual book. It very well written and I learnt more about the play 'The Tempest' which was cleverly woven into the contemporary story, the protagonist's final play and his revenge. It was a real page turner and brought ‘The Tempest’ to life in a new form.


Atwood comments in the notes 'It has been a great pleasure to work on this book partly because of the opportunity to read so much about Shakespeare and ‘The Tempest’ and also about the value of literature and drama within prisons.'

The tragedy is that at the local Mount prison. people supporting literature and other educational programmes have not been able to attend for about a year because of lack of prison staffing!

Marguerite Craig

How to get in touch…

Gaddesden Society President
Trevor Fernandes 01442 843498

Gaddesden Society Honorary Secretary
Mandy Haynes 01442 842496

Gaddesden Society Treasurer
Phil Heaphy 01442 842283
[email protected]

Diary Editorial Team

Phil and Rachael Heaphy 01442 842 283 [email protected]

Matt Laver
[email protected]

Genny Snowdon 01442 843834

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