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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

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.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn