The first thing that’s noticeable when sitting down with the Hope Book Club, is that not one person is alike.
Sure, they may all be book worms. The youngest of the group, teacher Kim Campbell, started reading the book Monday. By Tuesday night’s meeting at the Hope Library, she had read all 399 pages.
Well, almost all, she admits.
“I’ll have to go back for a second read,” she said.
The book on topic at this most recent meeting was The Bishop’s Man, a fiction novel by broadcast journalist Lynden MacIntyre. Written from the viewpoint of a Catholic priest entrenched in addictions and sexual scandal in Nova Scotia, the story is not a light read. Making the book, and the discussions surrounding it, more interesting is that the book was released at the same time a sex scandal surfaced in an Antigonish diocese.
Because of this, the discussion around the circle flows between the fictional story, and what the group knows to be true.
Many of the women had read MacIntyre’s before — some several times over — and agreed after an hour of discussion that maybe another read would be in order.
But there are just so many books, and such little time.
“I heard someone say ‘give a book 100 pages. If it doesn’t grab you, ditch it,'” Inge Wilson said. She’s been coming to the book club for as long as it’s been running, which is about eight years.
The Bishop’s Man is one that she “didn’t really want to read,” based in part on the subject matter.
“You know, I see the Giller Prize sticker and I think,” she said, taking a quick breath in, “okay, this is going to be good for me.”
She was pleasantly surprised to like the book, and during the meeting threw out questions to the 10 other women who showed up for this meeting. This is a larger sized group, which can range anywhere from three to a dozen.
Some, like Wilson, have been coming for years. Others were out for their first or second time. There is no requirement to join, no expectation that you will enjoy the book of the month.
But it is an opportunity to share thoughts and pose questions to others, after getting so deeply involved in a story. It’s also a chance to learn more about the authors, and many of the women have brought in other books to show the group, magazine cutouts, news items, and other literary tidbits to pass on.
And like Wilson, who would have never picked up The Bishop’s Man on her own, the club’s monthly meeting is a chance to learn about new writers, different genres and story lines not normally on your own bookshelf.
Next month’s book is Seven Sisters, by Margaret Drabble. To find out more about the Hope Book Club, phone Inge Wilson at 604-869-2021.