Fact or Fiction-Litery Circles

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), January 5, 2004 | Go to article overview

Fact or Fiction-Litery Circles


THE READING GROUP by Elizabeth Noble (Coronet, [pounds sterling]6.99) The ideal novel for social book babes like us, as it follows the turbulent lives of a women's reading group. There's beautiful Nicole, whose perfect home is ruined by her husband's serial infidelities, and Harriet, who has the perfect husband - if only she could fall back in love with him. Then there's Clare, a midwife whose once happy marriage is haunted by miscarriages, and Cressida, afraid that her rosy future will be ruined by an unwanted pregnancy. Finally, there's Susan, who is forced to watch her beloved mother's decline, and Polly, a single mum unexpectedly engaged. Between them, these very different women learn to read between the lines of life and fiction.

THE CONCISE OXFORD COMPANION TO ENGLISH LITERATURE edited by Margaret Drabble and Jenny Stringer (Oxford University Press, [pounds sterling]9.99) We don't want our ignorance to let us down at our own reading group soirees, do we? This new paperback edition of an essential literary companion will ensure that we won't end up blushing like a Jane Austen heroine when someone mentions Mansfield Park over the second bottle of sauvignon blanc. Consisting of more than 5,000 entries on the lives and works of authors, poets and playwrights, it also includes plot summaries and pen portraits of fictional characters.

Coedited by the novelist Margaret Drabble, it's accessible, readable, and won't make us sound like we've just swallowed a high-school essay.

THE UNFORTUNATES by Laurie Graham (Fourth Estate, [pounds sterling]6.99) What hope is there for poor Poppy Minkel, with her crinkle-cut hair and sticky-out ears? Despite being the heir to a mustard fortune, her prospects of finding a husband don't look good. But Poppy is determined to live up to her life-affirming philosophy - 'I'm modern and fun-loving and rich' - and cuts a swathe through 20th-century society from New York to the English shires in a series of adventures, which include the acquisition of two husbands. …

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