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Discussion 'The other Hoffmann sister by Ben Fergu Staps Language Lab le 25/05/2018 à 12:15

The Other Hoffmann Sister
by Ben Fergusson
Shortlisted for The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year 2015, Ben Fergusson's critically acclaimed debut, The Spring of Kasper Meier, was the winner of the Betty Trask Prize 2015 and the HWA 2015 Debut Crown Award. The Other Hoffmann Sister is a gripping, evocative read about two sisters set in pre-WW1 Germany which will appeal to fans of The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry.

For Ingrid Hoffmann the story of her sister's disappearance began in their first weeks in Southwest Africa...

Ingrid Hoffmann has always felt responsible for her sister Margarete and when their family moves to German Southwest Africa in 1902, her anxieties only increase. The casual racism that pervades the German community, the strange relationship between her parents and Baron von Ketz, from whom they bought their land, and the tension with the local tribes all culminate in tragedy when Baron von Ketz is savagely murdered. Baroness von Ketz and their son, Emil, flee with the Hoffmanns as the Baron's attackers burn down the family's farm.

Both families return to Berlin and Ingrid's concerns about Margarete are assuaged when she and Emil von Ketz become engaged on the eve of the First World War. But Margarete disappears on her wedding night at the von Ketz's country house. The mystery of what happened to her sister haunts Ingrid, but as Europe descends into chaos, her hope of discovering the truth becomes ever more distant.

After the war, in the midst of the revolution that brings down the Kaiser and wipes out the aristocracy that her family married into, Ingrid returns to the von Ketzes' crumbling estate determined to find out what really happened to her sister.

Bookclub

The Past by Tessa Hadley Staps Language Lab le 16/03/2018 à 12:15

"In her patient, unobtrusive, almost self-effacing way, Tessa Hadley has become one of this country’s great contemporary novelists. She is equipped with an armoury of techniques and skills that may yet secure her a position as the greatest of them. Consider all the things she can do. She writes brilliantly about families and their capacity for splintering. She is a remarkable and sensuous noticer of the natural world. She handles the passing of time with a magician’s finesse. She is possessed of a psychological subtlety reminiscent of Henry James, and an ironic beadiness worthy of Jane Austen. To cap it all, she is dryly, deftly humorous. Is that enough to be going on with?

The Past by Tessa Hadley
It is the story of a family and a three-week summer holiday in the house they have inherited, beneath whose affable surface run deep currents of tension. Hadley specialises in bright, brittle, defensive women with unsatisfactory love lives and a knack for self?sabotage, most notably Kate in The Master Bedroom and Stella in Clever Girl. Here she has created a Chekhovian trio of sisters who love and resent one another. Alice, the middle one, is 46, flighty, forgetful and romantic; Fran, a teacher, is practical and decisive and a mother of two young children, Ivy and Arthur; Harriet, the eldest, is independent-minded and shy, a former revolutionary in retreat from the fray. They are later joined by their brother, Roland, a pop philosopher on his third marriage, in a new white suit. Pilar, the latest wife, is one of two family outsiders, the other being Kasim, moody son of Alice’s ex-boyfriend, who takes an instant shine to Molly, Roland’s teenage daughter.

Bookclub

Never let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro Staps Language Lab le 19/01/2018 à 12:15

Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro

A tale of deceptive simplicity that slowly reveals an extraordinary emotional depth and resonance – and takes its place among Kazuo Ishiguro's finest work.

From the acclaimed author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, a moving new novel that subtly re-imagines our world and time in a haunting story of friendship and love.

As a child, Kathy–now thirty-one years old–lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed–even comforted–by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham's nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now.

A tale of deceptive simplicity, Never Let Me Go slowly reveals an extraordinary emotional depth and resonance–and takes its place among Kazuo Ishiguro's finest work. (less)

Bookclub

'Abide with Me' by Elizabeth Strout Staps Language Lab le 13/10/2017 à 12:15

"In her luminous and long-awaited second novel, bestselling author Elizabeth Strout welcomes readers back to northern New England in the late 1950's.

Tyler Caskey has come to love West Annett. The short, brilliant summers and the sharp, piercing winters fill him with awe–as does his congregation, full of good people who seek his guidance and listen earnestly as he preaches. But after suffering a terrible loss, Tyler finds it hard to return to himself as he once was and his congregation begins to question his leadership and propriety.

In prose clear and saturated with feeling, Elizabeth Strout draws readers into the details of ordinary life in a way that makes it extraordinary. All is considered–life, love, God, and community — and all is made new by this writer's boundless compassion and graceful prose."

Bookclub

The Truth According to Us Staps Language Lab le 16/06/2017 à 12:15

The Truth According to Us by Annie barrows

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society comes a wise, witty, and exuberant novel, perfect for fans of Lee Smith, that illuminates the power of loyalty and forgiveness, memory and truth, and the courage it takes to do what’s right.

Annie Barrows once again evokes the charm and eccentricity of a small town filled with extraordinary characters. Her new novel, The Truth According to Us, brings to life an inquisitive young girl, her beloved aunt, and the alluring visitor who changes the course of their destiny forever.

In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. But once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.

At the Romeyn house, twelve-year-old Willa is desperate to learn everything in her quest to acquire her favorite virtues of ferocity and devotion—a search that leads her into a thicket of mysteries, including the questionable business that occupies her charismatic father and the reason her adored aunt Jottie remains unmarried. Layla’s arrival strikes a match to the family veneer, bringing to light buried secrets that will tell a new tale about the Romeyns. As Willa peels back the layers of her family’s past, and Layla delves deeper into town legend, everyone involved is transformed—and their personal histories completely rewritten.

Bookclub

The Heart Goes Last Margaret Atwood Staps Language Lab le 31/03/2017 à 12:15

The Heart Goes Last (Positron 0.5)
by Margaret Atwood (Goodreads Author)
3.37 · Rating Details · 26,208 Ratings · 3,762 Reviews
Living in their car, surviving on tips, Charmaine and Stan are in a desperate state. So, when they see an advertisement for Consilience, a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own, they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month – swapping their home for a prison cell. At first, all is well. But then, unknown to each other, Stan and Charmaine develop passionate obsessions with their ‘Alternates,’ the couple that occupy their house when they are in prison. Soon the pressures of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire begin to take over.

Bookclub

Discussion Staps Language Lab le 27/01/2017 à 12:15

About Sweet Caress/les Vies Multiples d'Amory Clay
If you read on kindle,you can have an English version with synonyms for difficult word. Choose the option wordwise.

THE TOP TEN SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

Amory's first memory is of her father doing a handstand. She has memories of him returning on leave during the First World War. But his absences, both actual and emotional, are what she chiefly remembers. It is her photographer uncle Greville who supplies the emotional bond she needs, and, when he gives her a camera and some rudimentary lessons in photography, unleashes a passion that will irrevocably shape her future.

A spell at boarding school ends abruptly and Amory begins an apprenticeship with Greville in London, living in his flat in Kensington, earning two pounds a week photographing socialites for fashionable magazines. But Amory is hungry for more and her search for life, love and artistic expression will take her to the demi monde of Berlin of the late 1920s, to New York of the 1930s, to the Blackshirt riots in London and to France in the Second World War where she becomes one of the first women war photographers. Her desire for experience will lead Amory to further wars, to lovers, husbands and children as she continues to pursue her dreams and battle her demons.

In this enthralling story of a life fully lived, William Boyd has created a sweeping panorama of some of the most defining moments of modern history, told through the camera lens of one unforgettable woman, Amory Clay. It is his greatest achievement to date.
- See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/sweet-caress-9781408867976/#sthash.Thrl9YOp.dpuf

Bookclub

Discussion Staps Language Lab le 21/10/2016 à 12:15

Where my heart used to beat by Sebastien Faulks

On a small island off the south coast of France,Robert Hendricks, an English doctor who has seen the best and the worst the twentieth century had to offer, is forced to confront the events that made up his life.

His host, and antagonist, is Alexander Pereira,a man whose time is running out, but who seems to know more about his guest than Hendricks himself does.

The search for sanity takes us through the war in Italy in 1944, a passionate love that seems to hold out hope, the great days of idealistic work in the 1960s and finally – unforgettably – back into the trenches of the Western Front.

The recurring themes of Sebastian Faulks’s fiction are here brought together with a new stylistic brilliance as the novel casts a long,baleful light over the century we have left behind but may never fully understand. Daring, ambitious and in the end profoundly moving, this is Faulks’s most remarkable book yet.

Bookclub

Discussion Staps Language Lab le 01/04/2016 à 12:15

The Light years by James Salter.
"This exquisite, resonant novel by PEN/Faulkner winner James Salter is a brilliant portrait of a marriage by a contemporary American master. It is the story of Nedra and Viri, whose favored life is centered around dinners, ingenious games with their children, enviable friends, and near-perfect days passed skating on a frozen river or sunning on the beach. But even as he lingers over the surface of their marriage, Salter lets us see the fine cracks that are spreading through it, flaws that will eventually mar the lovely picture beyond repair. Seductive, witty, and elegantly nuanced, Light Years is a classic novel of an entire generation that discovered the limits of its own happiness—and then felt compelled to destroy it."

Book discussion

The Restoration of Otto Laird by Nigel packer Staps language laboratory le 29/01/2016 à 12:15

Elderly architect Otto Laird lives a peaceful existence in Switzerland. Once renowned for his radical and controversial designs he now spends his days communing with nature and writing eccentric (and unposted) letters to old friends. But his charmed life is rudely interrupted when he learns that one of his most significant buildings, Marlowe House, a 1960s tower block in south London is to be demolished.

Otto is outraged and wants to do everything in his power to save the building. So, he reluctantly agrees to take part in a television documentary that will mean returning to London for the first time in twenty-five years to live for a week in Marlowe House. As he becomes reacquainted with the city he called home for most of his life, his memories start to come alive. And as he explores his past, ponders his present and considers the future -- for himself and his building -- he embarks on a most remarkable journey.