Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2015

GW was selected as one of the 12 book clubs who will shadow the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2015. Our book is The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

We met last week to discuss the book so far. Some members had finished the book and others were still reading it. 

Greenacre Writers Book Club Ruth Cohen
I've read nearlĂ˝ all Sarah's books, except Affinity, and really liked her as a writer. The complexity of relationships, good plotting and excellent research into historical detail and sense of place. But this particular book seems very one dimensional and although she gets the 1920s to some extent, I am getting a bit bored with this concentration on one relationship. The good point I can see is the way she looms at the role of women and sniggering men.
Hasnt really gripped me though it's an easy read.

Greenacre Writers Book Club Katie Alford
This book intrigued me owing to its period setting but unfortunately, for me, it seemed to come apart at the seams in this regard. The setting, with regards to technology, description of the environment and lifestyle all fitted the period well. However, the human element felt a few decades further on. The main character particularly felt too modern, her voice and attitudes felt more like a women of a period a few decades later. While she is meant to be modern for her age, I just feel this was taken too far and stretched beyond what even a modern woman of that period would have been. The characters and the environment just seemed at loggerheads with each other and failed to fuse into one single coherent element, which resulted in a jarring feel throughout.
I was disappointed that more wasn’t made of the association with the suffragettes, this would have been a great aspect to explore and would have given a greater understanding of the main character’s past and personality. I also feel that the main character lacked emotion with regards to her brothers lost in the war. I feel that a person in that situation who has been robbed of two members of her family and left with no income would be angry either at the government in whose service they had died and yet have clearly just left any dependants in poverty or anger at the those who had initiated the war. While she clearly showed regret in their passing, the emotions felt muted in the terms of what a person would feel should war rob them of relatives and their livelihood in one strike.
I found the start of the novel unnecessarily slow and didn’t really find it that absorbing. If not for the fact I had agreed to read it as part of the book club I would not have read past page 30.

Greenacre Writers Book Club Meral Mehmet
I agree with Katie about the incongruity, I love the introduction because it sets a scene, paints a picture, outside privvi, but should there also be an inside loo?
Terms of setting the scene, thought the layout would be fundamental, mega meaning to the plot but it doesn't. Loved the historical she seemed more a woman of the 50s - Brighton Rock, it reminded me of that.
Interesting bit with Frances as a sufferagette, could have made more of that.
When the relationship developed, it was tedious, it lacked passion, excitement, I didn't believe in the characters.
Having finished the book, Fingersmith was full of twists and turns, this one I was just relieved to finish. Redeemed itself, with the court scene, the little vignette, and I liked Lillian's family. But essentialy, didn't find realistic the two main characters feelings about what had happened. 
Not suffient twists and turns.

Greenacre Writers Book Club Rosie Canning
This is the first Sarah Waters novel that I've read. I enjoyed being taken back in time and had no problem with the intensity of the relationship. I found the descriptions of paying guests arriving and living in the house and all that brings with it, like the loss of privacy very lifelike. It is almost as if Waters takes the traditional Lady and Servant roles and turns them up-side down. Lillian is the more bohemian, Frances scrubs floors without shame. I didn't enjoy the suspense of the murder trial, though I enjoyed the plot (if that makes sense). I did feel the author rather let the reader down by the ending, I really wanted to know what would have happened had the outcome been different. This could possibly have been a book for which there were two endings.

Greenacre Writers Book Club Mumpuni Murniati - Murni

Is the novel is about a lesbian relationship goes wrong or a crime of passion?
London in 1922 seems to be an intriguing setting; high unemployment and shortages of supply. And yet, does it justify the circumstances in which Frances Gray and Lilian Barber meet? My knowledge about 1920’s is limited, for little do I know the significance of the period towards their blooming relationship; of course apart from the fact that women lovers is a taboo, albeit not illegal like homosexuals. And therefore what happens between them can occur in any period of time, although the humiliation and the discrimination they’d have gone through had they been found out would be much greater than a century later.
Towards the end I realise the more I know about Frances and Lilian the more the contrast shown in their behaviour in Part I compared to Part III. As I finish the last paragraph I still cannot make up my mind who Lilian and Frances actually are.
In conclusion, the novel appeals little to me with its attempt to surpass crime/romance/gender role genre at the same time.

The Prize has published The Brilliant Woman’s Guide To A Very Modern Book Club to help you make the most of your book club and celebrate all the ways that novels can bring people together. With features from brilliant women writers including Kate Mosse, Grace Dent, Joanna Trollope and Helen Dunmore, and reading notes to the 2015 Baileys Prize shortlisted books this guide is for anyone who loves a good book. You can download it here free.

Which is your favourite book on the shortlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2015? The poll closes on 1 June and the reading group winner will be announced here and on social media. Please vote.

Join in with the conversation on Twitter with #ThisBookClub and #3WordReview of your favourite book written by a woman.

Twitter: @greenacrewriter

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