I’ve always enjoyed fiction recommended via friends’ book clubs, yet have never belonged to one, even though I’ve always been both slightly envious and very curious as to what kind of discussions take place. On Tuesday I was able to find out when I was invited to talk to a group who had read my novel Out of Sight.
Twelve women of a certain age gathered around a log fire in Dorset, and I waited to discover what questions I’d be asked. Their main focus was character – were my characters based on people I knew, why had I chosen to write about such people, what did I think of my characters? Soon the talk widened out to be about guilt and cowardice and forgiveness, particularly on whether it is selfish NOT to forgive oneself. Several people shared intimate information – a brother who’d drowned as a child, a mother-in-law who never spoke of a dead child – and I felt very privileged to be included.
My experience of a book club has been what every author must wish for their fiction – that, through a novel, people came together to feel, share and question things about their lives.
And I got flowers.