Tag Archives: Spanish Civil War

Celebrating ‘The Muse’ by Jessie Burton

Last month, as part of the Cityread London celebrations Church Street Library had an amazing day full of events. Over to the staff there to tell us more –

Friday 18 May 2018 saw the three Church Street Library book groups come together to discuss this year’s Cityread London book ‘The Muse’, set against the theme of art and Spain and London.

The ESOL group, bibliotherapy and monthly book groups plus other customers took part in a lively discussion on the book and its themes. The book is set in 1936 Spain and 1967 London and follows the story of Odelle Bastein from the Caribbean trying to solve the mystery of the painting that her boyfriend Scott has inherited from his late mother. The story reverts to 1936 and covers how the painting came to be – and follows the story of Olive Schloss in pre-civil war Spain. The story follows one of the rebels Isaac Robles and his sister Terese, and how their lives are entwined with Olive and her family. All is not as it seems in the household.

The readers taken on a journey of many twists in the story until it concludes with Odelle never really knowing the whole truth. The story reflects on how women were suppressed by the age. Olive wanted to go to art school but at this time, women were still much the second-class person.

For many of the group, English was not their first language and they rose admirably to the challenge of reading the book. Everybody took part in the discussion and everybody’s point was valid. The consensus was that the book was very enjoyable. For those who had read Jessie Burton’s previous book,
‘The Miniaturist’ this was a different style but equally as good.

After the discussion, the ‘Showroom Gallery’ courtesy of Terese and Anna held a fantastical collage montage around the themes in the book. The group developed their own style of art – some using the characters/themes in the book, others using their imagination. Everybody had great ideas and it was fantastic to see all the groups working together producing some great images.

From  midday, the groups were treated to an infusion of Spanish guitar music from the members of the London Guitar Orchestra and their conductor Tom Kerstens. The library was enchanted with the sound of guitar strings humming the air transforming the audience to a warm sunny Spain. The orchestra played six pieces, which showed their skills and took your breath away, and it was with great sadness when they finished after 30 minutes. The amateur group meet once a week to play, in Central London.

Overall it was a great morning of discussion, art and music that was enjoyed by all and we would love to see happen again. Roll on next year!

We must offer a big thank you to Joy Fromings, and her orchestra for giving their time free to perform and to Theresa and Anna from the gallery, without them the event could not have taken place.

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Pimlico Reading Group – The Return

Pimlico Library Reading Group met this week to discuss The Return, by Victoria Hislop.

The Return, by Victoria HislopThe romantic cover showing the silhouette of a couple dancing in a Mediterranean-looking square did not give away the underlying history that weaves the story together: the Spanish Civil War that divided families and devastated the country from 1936-1939.

Among our group there was general consent that the descriptions of the shattered relationships and destroyed land were very vivid and that the book was a page turner, even if a few pages too many.

Our discussion kept going back to the Spanish Civil War. We could understand how difficult it must be to come to terms after such vicious fighting took place relatively recently, and wondered how the Spanish Civil War was taught in Spanish schools. One young member from Spain could confirm that she did not study the Spanish Civil War in school, but was aware that it had affected her grandparents’ generation. Another member had a personal connection to the poet Charles Donnelly, the Irish poet who died fighting in the Civil War, and was therefore well informed about it.

Some members had read The Island by the same author and thought it was also well written. We had told the author that we were going to be discussing her book, and received a message from her thanking us for reading it, which was great!

Gentlemen and players, by Joanne HarrisPimlico Reading Group’s next meeting is on 26 June, 6.00 – 7.00pm. The book we’ll be discussing is Gentlemen and Players, by Joanne Harris – reserve your copy now and come and join us!

[Ivana]