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The Wartime Book Club by Kate Thompson #Review

  The Wartime Book Club is a marvellous historical novel set on Jersey in World War Two. Written by Kate Thompson , it was published by Hodder $ Stoughton on February 13th. Jersey, 1943. Once a warm and neighbourly community, now German soldiers patrol the cobbled streets, imposing a harsh rule on the people of the island. Grace La Mottée, the island's only librarian, is ordered to destroy books which threaten the new regime. Instead, she hides the stories away in secret. Along with her headstrong best friend, postwoman Bea Rose, she wants to fight back. So she forms the wartime book club: a lifeline, offering fearful islanders the joy and escapism of reading. But as the occupation drags on, the women's quiet acts of bravery become more perilous - and more important - than ever before. And, when tensions turn to violence, they are forced to face the true, terrible cost of resistance . . . Based on astonishing real events, The Wartime Book Club is a love letter

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller


Published in 2012, The Song of Achilles won the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction. Based on Homer’s Iliad and the siege of Troy, it reimagines the story through the eyes of Patroclus. As a boy prince, he was exiled to Peleus’ kingdom following his disgrace after the killing of a nobleman’s son. I read this book for my Book Club and I found myself hooked quite early on and enjoyed seeing life from Patroclus’ perspective. It did not worry me that Achilles’ thoughts were largely a mystery as that seemed appropriate for someone with his parentage. The son of Peleus and the goddess, Thetis, Achilles grew up to be the supreme warrior but was shown to have human faults. The story centres around the growing friendship and love between Patroclus and Achilles. 

Dealing as it does in the land of Myths and Legends, it would have been easy for the book to become two dimensional. Miller merges the world of man and the gods seamlessly and within the context of the story, I was able to believe in the events which could have seemed like fantasy. As young adolescents, Achilles, with Patroclus goes to be tutored by Chiron, a centaur, as preparation for his destiny as one of the greatest Greek warriors. This section seemed logical within the story and never absurd. The descriptions of the caves and the mountains are detailed and believable.

I personally found the depiction of Thetis, the sea nymph to be the most moving part of the book. Her rape by Peleus at the behest of the gods had produced Achilles. It had been prophesied that her child would be greater than his father. The gods feared this and made sure that his father was mortal and no threat to them. Her whole existence after this seems to be to try to protect him so that he can fulfil his destiny through her strength and power. As a goddess, she does not understand love and particularly disapproves of Achilles relationship with Patroclus.

If the book has a true hero, it has to be Patroclus with all his human faults and frailties. He is shown to have compassion and courage. He shows us Achilles’ human side and enables us to care what happens to him. 

In short: a page turner which keeps you engaged to the final word.

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