Last night was our monthly book group meeting. It was so warm we sat in my friends house with the patio doors wide open, listening to the sounds from the garden and enjoying the evening breeze with a glass of wine. Debora, our hostess, had baked a lemon and ricotta tart. As it grew dark she lit lots of candles. Book group is not usually a candlelit affair, but the summer evening seemed to call for it.
We started our group almost four years ago and found that "I'm going to book group" sounds a lot better than "I'm going to the pub" when trying to organise a night off, babysitters, that sort of thing. The book part is incidental, it just gives us a valid reason to meet up. Last night we read The Restaurant of Love Regained by Ito Ogawa. We all agreed that it is a very odd little book, but no less enjoyable for that. A young woman is left suddenly by her boyfriend, who takes all her possessions and money with him. Broke and desperate, she returns to the mountain village she grew up in and opens a tiny restaurant on her Mother's land. It is full of lengthy, vivid descriptions of food - from the killing of the animal to the serving of the meal - and these are wonderful. But I felt vaguely dissatisfied when I'd finished it by too characters and situations that weren't fully explored or resolved.
Next month's book is F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and I am really looking forward to this one. I read it about twelve years ago as a student but after hearing a brilliant adaptation of it on Radio 4 a few weeks ago, I am dying to re-read it. What are you reading at the moment? Can you give me any recommendations for future book group meetings?