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UVI book group

UVI book group

15th January, 2016

AcademicSixth Form

On Thursday, the Upper Sixth Book Group met to discuss its holiday reads. The books on offer were either The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, or How to be both by Ali Smith.

Here are some of the participants’ thoughts about The Narrow Road to the Deep North…

This is a most draining story of human misery, the horrors of the past and confronting the reality of human nature.

I am not a fan of depressing novels, so I would not say that I enjoyed it, though it is a novel carrying a message and it is a very cathartic read.

This is a deeply moving and depressing novel that one doesn’t enjoy but instead experiences. Not for the faint of heart!

As dark and depressing as it was, it was certainly worth reading this novel. Flanagan really goes into detail about the horrors of the POW camps. Even though most of these details only describe one day in the camp, it is striking and hard to forget. The additional stories about Dorrigo’s life before and after really drive home the effect being a prisoner had.

‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’ is not a novel you will enjoy but one you should read anyway. Some stories have to be told and I feel that this is one of these. The impact of culture, comradeship, and desperation is conveyed in such a way that it is captivating. The idea of ‘the line’ as a constant ‘monster in the dark’, always present is truly dramatic, especially when placed alongside the theme of eternity.

Book Group thoughts about How to be both…

I thoroughly enjoyed one half of this book, George’s story, but was frustrated by the other. Its narrative was definitely very unique and intriguing, and complemented its characters extremely well.

The novel shows a very innovative and forward thinking technique and style of writing by Smith, despite being a publisher’s nightmare. Francesco Del Cossa’s thought style was a bit more convoluted and flowed less well than George’s style, which was really enjoyable to read and empathise with. The novel is conceptually impressive but not easy to dip into and should be read in long sessions.

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