My book club normally meets on the first Tuesday of the month but for various reasons we found ourselves meeting on the second Tuesday this month.
A bit of an unusual meeting as as well as the usual discussion on the previous months book(s) we had the pleasure of attending a talk by two of the regions top crime writers - SHEILA QUIGLEY (who actually comes from the same town and well known to Husband dearest) and KEN MCCOY.
Anyway, after an interesting talk in which both writers questioned each other before questions from the floor, we had a quiz. Led to believe it was a crime novel quiz, we thought we had no chance as whilst I do read some crime fiction I'm very selective and it's not a genre Husband dearest reads also the group sitting next to us belonged to a crime readers book club. However, it in fact turned out to be a very short (10 questions) quiz on books in general which we won, our prize being a signed book from each of the authors.
And so onto my main post
The winner of the Orange Prize.
THE LACUNA - BARBARA KINGSOLVER
This was predicted by himself who wanted to bet the mortgage on it but has had no track record in predicting lottery numbers as yet.
Having obtained all 6 SHORT-LISTED BOOKS, between us we have managed to read 3. Look out for my reviews of Black Water Rising (Tomorrow), A Gate On The Stairs (Saturday) and HD's review of The Lacuna (Sunday).
But in the meantime read what 'expert' Catherine Taylor, a fiction reviewer and publisher, has to say about the announcement:-
"There is a sense of surprise and deflation around Barbara Kingsolver's win. Of course judges don't necessarily listen to critics, but her long-awaited The Lacuna was received with respectful disappointment by the majority of its reviewers and quite a few of its readers. Some of these pointed out that this bipartite novel, detailing the final days of Trotsky in the Mexico of Kahlo and Rivera, and the McCarthy witch-hunts in the US of the late 1940s, is actually two separate books – neither of which ultimately works. Added to this is the nagging fact that Kingsolver's 1999 Orange-shortlisted The Poisonwood Bible is, quite simply, a much better work, and whatever Kingsolver has written subsequently will inevitably be compared with that novel.
The Lacuna has sound merits – thorough research, edgy political embroilment, lush imagery – and the Mexican scenes and depictions of the imperious Kahlo, especially, are spot-on. Kingsolver is a gifted and accomplished writer. But in this instance she does not have the scope and sheer audacity of Mantel, where from the opening sentence of Wolf Hall, the reader is plunged into Thomas Cromwell's world in all its viciousness, pragmatism and snatched joy. Nor do we experience the delights of witnessing an interrogative sparkling intellect, as evidenced by my personal favourite on the Orange shortlist, Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs. Moore's trademark aphorisms and quirky observations meld unforgettably in a sweeping portrait of contemporary America."