Why a book is on the menu.

Let me introduce you to a group of ladies who’ve replaced school dinners with very specially-themed evening meals.

All seven of them have retired from positions at Kingswood Prep School in Bath and – determined not to lose touch – formed a book club that celebrates its sixth anniversary this month.

Helen Stansfield writes:

“There are numerous book clubs running in the city, through book shops, churches, clubs and informal friendship groups. Many are vast in the range of their choices, others focus in on a particular genre such as Crime of Historical fiction etc.

Our choices are based on books set in a particular country and giving a strong sense of place, so we have read many genres too.

We started in February 2016 with our first book – set in South Africa- ‘The Power of One’ by Bryce Courtney. Since then we have read books from 58 more countries and our 60th book – set in Finland – will be discussed and celebrated this month. It’s ‘Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida.

This next gathering will be a special one as we decided it is a good idea to each choose and rank our favourite six books so far. Let’s hope we don’t get 42 different choices!

Several of our members regularly visit Bath’s wonderful independent bookshop Mr B’s Emporium Bookshop for suggestions and recommendations to read before nominating books to the group. What a treasure this place is and the staff are very knowledgeable and helpful!

Stars and Stripes cake!

We try to create an immersive experience of the particular country, and have had food and drink from several countries including Malaysia, Ethiopia, Denmark, Cuba….  and the list goes on. We have had occasional themed decorations, music and film clips and keep a folder of maps that we colour once a book from that country has been read. We also have a bookmark designed for each book with a flag, book details and a country fact file.”

If anyone has a strong recommendation for the club, they can email Helen – helen.m.stanfield@gmail.com– and find out which countries we have already ‘visited’. ‘

The group meet in various homes, usually hosted by the member who has recommended the current book.

Helen continued: “Over the past six years, we have had themed evenings with food, drinks, nibbles. music and video clips to reflect the country and some entertaining decorations too. We even held a book club meeting at IKEA where we decorated a table in the cafe with Swedish flags and ate some Scandinavian goodies! 

We are approaching our 60th meeting and are planning to have a vote on our six top titles so far, to see if any one book is a stand-out favourite.”

Helen tells me they are not looking for new members as seven is a manageable number – plus everyone shares their former employment at Kingswood Prep so tend to talk school!