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Guildford Spike WI Book Club 2018 - Reading List


A Boy Made of Blocks : Keith Stuat




The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds: Selina Siak Chin Yoke 


387 pages - Recommended by Sharon


Since having their now eight-year-old son Sam, life for Alex and Jody has revolved around making sure Sam is okay. His diagnosis as autistic has given them a name for his behaviour, but it doesn’t help them get through the daily meltdowns and struggles or excuse the distance growing between them. For Alex, spending time with Sam is filled with anxiety and Jody has grown tired of his reluctance to engage with their son. Now crashing on his old friend’s airbed, Alex must find a way to connect with Sam and learn to cope with their situation in order to keep their family together.


476 Pages - Recommended by Sallie


Facing challenges in an increasingly colonial world, Chye Hoon, a rebellious young girl, must learn to embrace her mixed Malayan-Chinese identity as a Nyonya—and her destiny as a cook, rather than following her first dream of attending school like her brother.


Amidst the smells of chillies and garlic frying, Chye Hoon begins to appreciate the richness of her traditions, eventually marrying Wong Peng Choon, a Chinese man. Together, they have ten children. At last, she can pass on the stories she has heard—magical tales of men from the sea—and her warrior’s courage, along with her wonderful kueh (cakes).


But the cultural shift towards the West has begun. Chye Hoon finds herself afraid of losing the heritage she so prizes as her children move more and more into the modernising Western world.


The Buried Giant: Kazuo Ishiguro  


402 pages - Recommended by Wendy


In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.


Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind.


But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.


And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool .




354 pages - Recommended by Amanda


'You've long set your heart against it, Axl, I know. But it's time now to think on it anew. There's a journey we must go on, and no more delay...'


The Buried Giant begins as a couple set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen in years.


Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel in a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.

Into the Water : Paula Hawkins

Swimming Lessons: Claire Fuller


304 pages - Recommended by Helen M


'Gil Coleman looked down from the window and saw his dead wife standing on the pavement below.'


Gil's wife, Ingrid has been missing, presumed drowned, for twelve years.


A possible sighting brings their children, Nan and Flora, home. Together they begin to confront the mystery of their mother. Is Ingrid dead? Or did she leave? And do the letters hidden within Gil's books hold the answer to the truth behind his marriage, a truth hidden from everyone including his own children?


The Power: Naomi Alderman  


339 pages - Recommended by Helen S


All over the world women are discovering they have the power.


With a flick of the fingers they can inflict terrible pain - even death.

Suddenly, every man on the planet finds they've lost control.

The Day of the Girls has arrived - but where will it end?



I Capture the Castle: Dodie Smith (Read for 2018-02-19)  


418 pages - Recommended by Becky


'I write this sitting in the kitchen sink' is the first line of this timeless, witty and enchanting novel about growing up. Cassandra Mortmain lives with her bohemian and impoverished family in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Her journal records her life with her beautiful, bored sister, Rose, her fadingly glamorous stepmother, Topaz, her little brother Thomas and her eccentric novelist father who suffers from a financially crippling writer's block. However, all their lives are turned upside down when the American heirs to the castle arrive and Cassandra finds herself falling in love for the first time.




Behind her Eyes: Sarah Pinborough


Recommended by Muriel


Don’t Trust This Book

Don’t Trust These People

Don’t Trust Yourself

And whatever you do, DON’T give away that ending



Since her husband walked out, Louise has made her son her world, supporting them both with her part-time job. But all that changes when she meets



Young, successful and charming – Louise cannot believe a man like him would look at her twice let alone be attracted to her. But that all comes to a grinding halt when she meets his wife



Beautiful, elegant and sweet – Louise's new friend seems perfect in every way. As she becomes obsessed by this flawless couple, entangled in the intricate web of their marriage, they each, in turn, reach out to her.

But only when she gets to know them both does she begin to see the cracks Is David really the man she thought she knew and is Adele as vulnerable as she appears?

Just what terrible secrets are they both hiding and how far will they go to keep them?





The Signature of all Things: Elizabeth Gilbert


513 Pages - Recommended by Helen R


From the moment Alma Whittaker steps into the world, everything about life intrigues her. Instilled with an unquenchable sense of wonder by her father, a botanical explorer and the richest man in the New World, Alma is raised in a house of luxury and curiosity. It is not long before she becomes a gifted botanist in her own right. But as she flourishes and her research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she comes to love draws her in the opposite direction – into the realm of the spiritual, the divine and the magical.


The Signature of All Things soars across the globe of the nineteenth century, from London and Peru, to Philadelphia, Tahiti and beyond. Peopled with extraordinary characters along the way, most of all it has an unforgettable heroine in Alma Whittaker.






The Essex Serpent: Sarah Perry


433 pages - Recommended by Liz


London, 1893. When Cora Seaborne's controlling husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness. Along with her son Francis - a curious, obsessive boy - she leaves town for Essex, in the hope that fresh air and open space will provide refuge.


On arrival, rumours reach them that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for superstition, is enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a yet-undiscovered species. As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter's vicar, who is also deeply suspicious of the rumours, but thinks they are a distraction from true faith.

As he tries to calm his parishioners, Will and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves at once drawn together and torn apart, affecting each other in ways that surprise them both.


The Essex Serpent is a celebration of love, and the many different shapes it can take.