Sunday, 20 July 2008

20th meeting of the book group

A week ago, my book group met in Wells. A long way to go for a book discussion? We are six in number, and one of us has defected from Gloucestershire to Somerset. So we were invited to catch up with him at his new house, near the centre of Wells.

I had been there on weekends when my parents came to visit me at All Hallows; so my last acquaintance with Wells was 52 years ago. I hardly remembered it at all. Simon led us around the Cathedral and precincts: a magical tour, ending in an old prebendary's house, called - why? - The Rib, with the most mysteriously beautiful mediaeval interior.

The book for discussion? Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian. The score? Two of us liked it, two didn't. I didn't (much). 300-odd pages with no dialogue: an impressive attempt at historical reconstruction, but a bit charmless I thought. More interesting as an insight into the author, than the subject.

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