Would My Book Club Like This? October Edition

A recurring feature showcasing recently released books that book clubs may find interesting.

A recurring feature showcasing recently released books that book clubs may find interesting. Links go to the Independent’s original reviews.

By Becky Meloan


When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (look for the Independent’s review on Tuesday, November 1)

Algonquin Books, 352pp

Hannah Payne is a criminal. As punishment for her crime, her body is turned stop sign red. America in the not-too-distant future has erased the line between church and state. Incarceration has been replaced by “chroming,” where criminals bodies are genetically altered to turn a color that represents their crime. Hannah’s crime is murder, and the victim is her unborn child, the product of forbidden love. As she struggles to survive in a dangerous new world, Hannah is forced to question her own beliefs and how they relate to the society in which she now lives.

Bottom Line: Abortion, religious extremism, crime and consequences, sexuality, When She Woke is filled with hot-button issues. If your book club can politely discuss politics and religion, there will be a lot of deep conversation. I’ll get you started: what if Margaret Atwood had written The Scarlet Letter? Discuss.

The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad

Riverhead Books, 256pp

At eighty years old, author Jamil Ahmad wrote The Wandering Falcon, his first novel. His quiet voice of old age can be seen in his patient storytelling. We follow the journey of Tor Baz, son of both chiefs and outlaws. Years pass quickly, characters come and go, and choices made by one person or tribe sometimes affect many others. Ahmad’s storytelling, described in The Independent’s review as “sympathetic but not sentimental,” is reminiscent of the pattern of a bird’s flight: dropping in on characters in different stages of their lives; coming and going as is pleasing. Ahmad’s experience living and working within the tribes of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India give us a rare glimpse of what it is like to live in this important yet mysterious part of our world.

Bottom Line: A good choice for book clubs that like to read about different cultures and values. The author’s age and experience give readers an appealing perspective.

The Lady of the Rivers: A Novel (The Cousins’ War) by Philippa Gregory

Touchstone, 464pp

Philippa Gregory writes historical fiction about women in history, their place in society, and their struggle for power. Her latest subject is Jaquetta of Luxembourg, Duchess of Beford, first woman of English-ruled France. Jacquetta married her second husband for love and paid a price for breaking society’s rules for royal kinswomen. She later became one of Margaret of Anjou’s most favored ladies-in-waiting. She saw her family’s fortunes rise and fall during the Wars of the Roses – then known as the Cousins’ Wars.  She secretly married her eldest of sixteen children, Elizabeth Woodville, to King Edward IV and thus became mother to The White Queen. This sweeping historical saga details a fascinating life.

Bottom Line: Philippa Gregory fans that enjoy her combination of real and imagined history will be pleased. Those with a historical interest might want to delve further into the characters by reading The Women of the Cousins’ War: The Duchess, the Queen and the King’s Mother, a non-fiction account of these women’s lives by Philippa Gregory and her fellow historians David Baldwin and Michael Jones.

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