THE INDEPENDENT BOOK GROUP: A love story, for crying out loud

A science-fiction novel reduced our book group members to tears. CHRISTINA PATTERSON reports on an emotional month

"Sometimes" as the poet Sheena Pugh said, in one of the most popular Poems on the Underground, "things don't go, after all,/ from bad to worse. Some years muscadel/ faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail". And sometimes, she might have added, contributions to the Independent book group are universally upbeat - glorious harbingers of sweetness and light.

Well, this month, at any rate, it was something like that. Da Vinci-induced vitriol vanished in favour of a marvellous new commodity: enthusiasm. mrsboggart, opening the proceedings, set the tone. "I read this book about eight months ago" she announced. "After a slow start I remember being really gripped by it". She was"looking forward to reading it again". Mo245 was "just over half way through, and loving it." She was finding it "incredibly readable" and "fascinating" and thought the characterisations were "remarkably good". Confusingly for a book about time travel, she had a copy that jumped straight from page 186 to 235. Was this deliberate or an error?

An error, thought mrsboggart, who helpfully filled in the missing scene. She felt excited, she confided, just "remembering how beautiful and clever it is. The time travel device is just so well executed". Mo245 decided that she could "read around" the error for now and posted a message telling everyone that this was "an amazing book, in that rare category of books which are so well written that other books are shown up to be simply a flickering shadow". It had also, she said, made her cry - the "first time from a book". Jerry Springer, eat your heart out. Our book group is a much better place for embarrassing confessions.

Even Shirley from Sussex, a book group stalwart who has struggled to find the finer points in some of our choices, appeared to be hooked. "I don't know what it is about this book that's gripping me" she declared "but something is!" Although "nothing particularly remarkable" was happening, she thought it was "really good. Audrey" she added chummily "has a very good imagination".

Netty121 was also "thoroughly enjoying it", but had, at last, identified a jarring note. Unfortunately, it was just the cover. She "found the image of the small girl, alongside a grown man's shoes a little disturbing", conjuring up ideas that "do not at all reflect the beauty of the prose". Mo245 didn't like the cover either, but jellyfeeble hadn't noticed it. She'd just "picked up the book and started to read". She, too, was enjoying it so far, but she was also a bit worried about Henry's employment record. "When does Henry have time to work" she wondered "if all he seems to be doing is time travelling?" That's the spirit, jellyfeeble. Come and work here! The management would love you. More importantly, perhaps, she was worried that Henry had beaten up another character with "apparent enjoyment". mrsboggart leapt to his defence. "I think if I was Henry" she declared "I would have done the same thing".

Mehari was "only slightly alarmed by Henry's other skills in criminal directions". He was "fascinated" by the novel's "gentle humour and invention", but annoyed to find that Julian Clary had given away the plot on Richard & Judy. Luckily, he'd only videoed it, but his partner had watched and "come away fuming".

PhilDeans, a relative newcomer to the group, joined the swelling fan club. He'd picked the book up at an airport before Christmas, thought it looked "a bit Chick lit" and put it back down. "Just shows how wrong you can be" he added darkly. "The last chapters were so emotional" he confided "that when I had finished I just had to play a Nick Cave CD to capture the mood completely. The new one" he continued helpfully "is perfect". He was, however, a bit worried about the author's attitude to men. All the male characters, he thought "were slightly or completely disfunctional in some way: alcoholic, violent, cheating on their partner, leaving without reason then coming back without explanation". A searingly accurate portrayal of the sex, then. He was particularly worried about "the habit of running around naked which let's be honest most guys have a tendency to do".

Shirley didn't comment on naked guys, but she was ready to pronounce. "An excellent read" she declared - the Shirley equivalent, perhaps, of a Nobel Prize. LJ2026, a new participant and a self-confessed online forum virgin, was equally enthusiastic. It was, he said, "one of the most compelling books" he had read in a long time, one which had him "blubbering" into his tea. Mo245 was too busy worrying about free will to weep. "If past events could not be changed, then do we have free will?" she asked. Mind you, "delving too deeply would probably have ruined an excellent story".

And then, at long last, a dissenting voice appeared. "Found it a bit `chick lit' and lightweight" said the pithily named zig. "Sorry". He had liked Henry's character, and his choice of music, but found Clare "too good to be true". It got, he thought, "very `mills and boon' at the end." OliviaDW profoundly disagreed. The book, she said, "was a first for me - first to make me cry, first to make we want to go and hear the author speak about her book, and first to spur me to write my comments on an internet book club!" Three confessions of tears in one month! In journalistic terms, that's a trend.

Meanwhile, 2wabbits had finally broken his silence. He was "fascinated" and "moved" by the book. He wrote this in the book group, but he also told me when I met him at Niffenegger's reading at Waterstone's last week. A burly man who works for London Underground, he was amused by my attempts, in these round-ups, to turn him into a woman. He said his mates at work were tickled, but they were starting to read the books, too. Actually, I think soon everyone will be reading The Time Traveler's Wife. It's already sold nearly two million copies. Move over, Dan Brown.

To join the debate over each month's book, go to http://enjoyment. independent.co.uk/books

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
Crime watch: Cara Delevingne and Daniel Brühl in ‘The Face of an Angel’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
music Malik left the Asian leg of the band's world tour after being signed off with stress last week
News
Author J.K. Rowling attends photocall ahead of her reading from 'The Casual Vacancy' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on September 27, 2012 in London, England.
peopleNot the first time the author has defended Dumbledore's sexuality
News
‘The Late Late Show’ presenter James Corden is joined by Mila Kunis and Tom Hanks for his first night as host
news
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss