The ESC Book Club started life nearly 8 years ago and has been meeting on a monthly basis-except for summer breaks- ever since. During this period we have read and discussed a wide variety of books, mainly 20th century or contemporary and written in English by authors from a range of anglophone countries.
Members take turns both to host the meetings and to select the books we are to read. There is always a lively discussion about the writing,the characters,the story and the issues that are raised. The conversations are non-academic, wide ranging and usually wildly subjective!
The Club is open to all members of the ESC and you don’t have to commit to regular attendance – you can just come along to discuss a book you particularly enjoyed (or despised). Meetings are normally held on the evening of the second Monday of the month, starting at 18h30.
Book club’s next monthly reading will be: “Old Filth” by Jane Garden
Old Filth by Jane Gardam had been recommended to me by my Dutch friend, also member of a bookclub in the Netherlands. I loved it.
The first chapter is surprising. Straight away we dive into The Inner Circle, a London club restricted to lawyers. Gossiping judges comment upon the lives of two old colleagues , Sir Edward Feathers, nicknamed Old Filth, and Sir Terence Veneering. The club, the old gentlemen… So very British!
In fact, as she humorously states in her introduction of the book, Jane Gardam was inspired by the brief encounter she had with a real senior judge, and gives away the meaning of the nickname- “Failed In London Try Hong Kong”.
Did Old Filth fail or succeed? Was he capable of love, but also of cruelty? Where was his home?
Reading the chapters titles gives one a hint… one travels a lot! all over the ex- British Empire, from Home to distant places such as Kotakinakulu… But which is the real home for this Raj orphan? Even for his nearest circle, Eddie remains a mystery.
At a time when colonies have disappeared, in her well documented story, Jane Gardam shows how identity problems derive from the uprooting of families and the estrangement between parents and children. This theme appeals to us today when migration has become an important social and political issue.
As Jane Gardam recommends, if you wish to know more, go on reading the other two books part of the trilogy: “The Man In The Wooden Hat” but also “Last Friends”.
Claudine Marbach, Jan. 20 2019
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