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Old 7th Feb 2005, 21:34   #1
Wavid
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Default BBC Book Group

From The Guardian

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The BBC today moved a step closer to the launch of its much-publicised book club with the announcement of the programme's shortlist of books.

Page Turners, which was conceived in the wake of the runaway success of Richard and Judy's book club, will form part of BBC1's spring daytime schedule and will be hosted by Jeremy Vine. Each programme will look at three of the chosen titles, and every book will be introduced by a celebrity advocate or author.

The shortlist of 24 books, designed to showcase the "best new books" on offer in the UK today, was whittled down from a longlist of over 300 by a panel of book-loving celebrities and literary experts that included Fay Weldon and Marian Keyes and was chaired by the Observer's literary editor, Robert McCrum. The final selection covers a wide range of fiction and non-fiction titles. Feted authors such as Haruki Murakami sit alongside newcomers such as Helen Oyeyemi, university student and author of The Icarus Girl; Simon Barnes' guide to ornithology, How To Be a Bad Birdwatcher, is joined by Feast, Nigella Lawson's latest cookery book.

The BBC appears to be taking its attempt to dethrone Richard and Judy's book club very seriously: from March, Page Turners will be augmented by tie-ins with book shops and libraries, who will be promoting the shortlisted books. The Page Turners website, which will offer background information on the featured titles and tips on running a book club, will also be live from the beginning of next month.

The shortlist in full

About Grace by Anthony Doerr
Becoming Strangers by Louise Dean
Chronicles Volume One by Bob Dylan
Fleshmarket Close by Ian Rankin
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
Fools Rush In by Bill Carter
How To Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
Not the End of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean
How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes
Feast: Food That Celebrates Life by Nigella Lawson
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Inside Hitler's Bunker by Joachim Fest
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Understudy by David Nicholls
The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
Light on Snow by Anita Shreve
Let Me Go by Helga Schneider
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe
Leonardo da Vinci: The Flights of the Mind by Charles Nicholl
Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen
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Old 8th Feb 2005, 11:41   #2
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A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
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Old 8th Feb 2005, 15:06   #3
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What a coincidence that they haven't chosen any of the books on Richard & Judy's list!

I can vouch for Never Let Me Go, and unvouch for Becoming Strangers. I think RC has read The Last Crossing - or am I mistaken? Wildsheep may be able to guide us too on About Grace and Kafka on the Shore. Who needs Jeremy Vine!
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Old 9th Feb 2005, 1:55   #4
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I read "The Last Crossing" Good Stuff!!
The story is set in the late 1800s. Two brothers are sent, by their father, in search of a third brother who went to northern America with a missionary and is now missing. One brother is a disillusioned artist and the other is a disgraced military captain. They assemble a rag tag group to help on their search. A half Blackfoot, half Scot guide leads a party that includes an American journalist, a Civil War veteran, a saloonkeeper and a woman in search of her sisters killer, through the American and Canadian west. The characters are wonderful.


Vanderhaeghe also wrote a book titled "The Englishman's Boy" which was equally as good.

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Old 9th Feb 2005, 15:35   #5
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I think RC has read The Last Crossing - or am I mistaken?
You are correct, but I didn't think much of it.
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Old 9th Feb 2005, 21:59   #6
Maggie
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RC

Did you read "The Englishman's Boy"?

Just wondering whether it was the author or the story that you didn't particularly like.


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Old 9th Feb 2005, 23:49   #7
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Yes, Maggie, I read The Englishman's Boy and I liked it. And the story of The Last Crossing is a good one, but in my opinion it was told in a ham-handed way, an omniscient narrator laying out the characters' thoughts and motives, poor transitions (actually, what transitions?), often unnatural dialogue, quantities of unjustified accessory information pasted in here there and anywhere. It has it's points, there's the odd bit of fairly respectable wordwork and I like the historical setting, but for me the amateurish writing overrides its good aspects. I've wondered how it is that Vanderhaeghe produced something so lardy, you'd think that those tendencies would have shown in The Englishman's Boy as well. Perhaps I missed it, I don't read particularly critically, if I like a book (or anything else) I'm inclined to accept it whole, as it stands. (Incidentally, that's why I don't do reviews - the prospect of it affects the reading, I can't block the wee critic in the back of my mind taking notes, and I don't want him there.)
Nevertheless I liked Last Crossing enough to finish it, so I'm not saying it's without merit. How it made the BBC list I don't know, seems kind of patronizing, like bringing Oronhyatekha to Oxford.
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