It’s that time of year again when I begin to prepare for the Summer School that I run each August. As some of you may remember, this started because I wanted to attend a Summer School but simply couldn’t afford the prices that were being asked. Our variant, perhaps not as intensive or as academic as some, costs us each the princely sum of £1.50 plus whatever we have to pay for the three books that we study. A bargain at half the price, I think you’ll agree.
Every year I offer five sets of three novels, each set being loosely linked by a particular theme, and the people who have signed up vote for their favourite. We’ve only ever had one person pull out because their selection wasn’t chosen – we didn’t invite her back the following year! Books identified we then meet on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons of the August week that suits most people best. Each book is introduced by a different member of the group and each meeting takes place in a different person’s home. That way no one is put under too much pressure. This is the ninth year we’ve done this, so we must be getting something right. In fact last year, we came very close to having to run it twice because so many people wanted to come it was difficult to find living rooms big enough to take us all.
This year’s selection is as follows:
The Paris Wife ~ Paula McLain
Vanessa and her Sister ~ Priya Parmar
The American Wife ~ Curtis Sittenfeld
Waiting for Sunrise ~ William Boyd
The Third Man ~ Graham Greene
Mortal Mischief ~ Frank Tallis
Paying the Price
A Whispered Name ~ William Brodrick
The Reckoning ~ Rennie Airth
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky ~ Simon Mawer
Retelling the Tale
The Secret History ~ Donna Tartt
The Song of Achilles ~ Madeline Miller
The King Must Die ~ Mary Renault
The Thirteenth Tale ~ Diane Setterfield
Her Fearful Symmetry ~ Audrey Niffenegger
Sisterland ~ Curtis Sittenfeld
Obviously, as I’ve put together the sets of books, they are all ones that I wouldn’t mind re-reading but there are a couple that I really hope might come up this time. What, I wonder, would you opt for?