Join our Book Club in association with Waterstones.

Open to everyone.

Our book club is a warm and welcoming club hosted by Maureen Sangster. By having a host it allows all club member to feel relaxing in the knowledge that they do not need to contribute if they prefer to sit relax and listed they can do so.

Due to the immediate success of the BOOK CLUB unfortunately we will NOT be able to take in any new members. If you would like to register you interest please do so using the Contact Form and we will let anyone know if a space becomes available.

Maureen Sangster

Maureen writes in two different sounding streams of Scots and English about particular localities, extremes of emotions and social issues.

She loves to singing and tries to get a singing quality into her poetry. She is an artist as well as a writer and likes to make work that combines text and image.

1st Meeting – February 2nd 2017

Our very first meeting to discuss the book club in general.
We discussed in detail how everyone would like to see it work and we set out the Ground Rules.

  • The Club will gather on the 1st Thursday of each Month at 6pm ( 6pm – 7.30pm)
  • Three Books will be chosen to allow us to order the books in advance in association with Waterstones.
  • Book 1 – “The Ashes of London” Collect on the 2nd February
  • Book 2 – “Fallow” by Daniel Stand – collect on the 2nd March
  • Book 3 – “Gaudy Night” by Dorothy L Sayers – collect on 6th April
  • Book 4 – “Red Harvest” by Dashiell Hammett – Collect on the 4th May
  • Book can be Pre-Ordered the month before at a special rate provided by Waterstones. Each book should NOT be more than £5 each

Brief synopsis of the evening.

The Cupcake Coffee Box Crime Fiction Book Group had its first meeting on 2nd February. 17 people attended. It was a fun and lively evening. People spoke about why they read crime fiction – from wanting a comforting read to interest in characterisation and interest in the book’s setting. They mentioned who their favourite authors were such as Val McDermid, George Pelecanos, Kate Atkinson, Dick Francis, James Ellroy, Jo Nesbitt,  Robert Galbraith, Ian Rankin, Mankell, Sara Paretsky, John Connolly, Robert Galbraith, Louise Welch, Dorothy L. Sayers, John Dickson Carr, Linn Anderson, Erle Stanley Gardner and others.  Some liked working through a crime series such as Sue Grafton’s A- Z or visiting the places mentioned in a book such as Rebus’s Edinburgh.

There was a lot of discussion about types of crime fiction such as Scandinavian, American, Noir, Cosy Crime, and psychological thriller.

Books were chosen to read over the forthcoming months. March’s book will be historical crime fiction The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor. April’s book is Fallow by a Kirkcaldy author Daniel Shand. May’s choice will look at some classic crime Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers and there’ll be more classic crime for June – Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest.

The book group meets the 1st Thursday each month 6pm – 7.30pm.

Meeting Number 2

Our second meeting was the first meeting to discuss the very first book “Ashes of London” it was a great lively debate and the summary can be seen below:

It’s a Marmite book!
The Cupcake Coffee Box Crime Fiction Book Group had its 2nd meeting on 3rd March 2017. 19 people attended and discussed historical crime The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor set during the time of The Great Fire of London.
Discussion revealed polar opposite views. Some people found characters ‘wooden, and lacking in dimension’ while others found the same characters ‘sympathetic and interesting.’ Some people found certain incidents in the book implausible and contrived while others regarded these as necessary complexities in a many stranded narrative.
The question was raised – Was it crime fiction or not? Then we felt that it did not really matter. It was a book in which crimes occurred. People coming to the novel with certain expectations of what a crime novel would be found a reinterpretation of the notion of crime fiction.
Everyone enjoyed the picture painted of 17th C London and of an era post-Civil War and the murder of Charles 1. We learnt about political and historical intrigues and factions (such as the Fifth Monarchists) and their aftermath. The 2 main characters Cat Lovett and James Marwood suffer as a consequence of the political actions of their fathers. We also learnt social history, finding out how women were regarded as ‘disposable’, creatures to be raped or married off.
The image of London landmarks disappearing, such as St Paul’s, were enjoyed as were the descriptions of future plans to rebuild London by Wren.
April’s book is Fallow by a Kirkcaldy author Daniel Shand.

The book group meets the 1st Thursday each month 6pm – 7.30pm. Next meeting 6th April 2017.

Meeting 3

A Big Thank you to Daniel Shand

“Fabulous.” “Nice having Daniel here.” “Illuminating.” “A healthy discussion.” “Plenty to talk about.”

Some of the comments at the end of The CCB Crime Fiction Book Group on 6th April l 2017.   14 people attended, delighted that Daniel Shand the author of Fallow , his debut novel, was visiting the bookgroup.

Everyone felt Fallow was a well written but disturbing book, its strength being the shifting relationship between the main characters, brothers Paul and Mikey There was a lot of psychoanalysis of the brothers and the crimes they had committed either singly or together. There was discussion too about genres, some thinking Fallow was crime fiction, others not but all found it a ‘noir’ and bleak road trip (though Doris the dog didn’t die! and the book has its humorous sections).  The increased speed at the end of the book was felt to reflect Paul’s psychological disintegration.

Daniel answered questions on structure, character, and suspense and on whether he’d visited all the places in Scotland that the brothers travel to – “Not all but I have visited Arran and visited Faslane a long time ago.” He felt not knowing places in detail was creatively advantageous.

The genesis of the book, he said, was at first an image of the tent and the two brothers camping, followed by the questions “How and why had they come there?”

One member asked why the section set amongst the religious cult was there: Daniel said that he’d struggled with that section, rewriting it a number of times. Two members felt that section showed a mirroring of the Paul/Mikey relationship in the relationship between the cult leader and his father.

People liked the whole gallery of characters Daniel had created: there was specific mention of the vivid character of the butcher.

Asked about how an author created readability, Daniel said it was important to create a narrative that was ‘smooth’, which led one into the book. He also said, in answer to a question about how he responded to feedback, that he discovered more about the book from discussion with bookgroups, readers offering up their interpretations of his narrative.

May’s book is classic crime Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers.

At this meeting each member will put into a hat a suggestion for a crime fiction book to be discussed. One will be chosen to be discussed on the 6th July.

The book group meets the 1st Thursday each month 6pm – 7.30pm. Next meeting 4th May.

Meeting 4

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

‘It may be cosy crime but it didn’t feel cosy.’

Discussion topics were feminism, class and suicide, a tribute to the philosophical nature of Gaudy Night, written in 1935. Set in a fictional women’s college in Oxford, it features Harriet Vane, a writer of detective fiction, a gallery of women academics as well as the aristocratic sleuth Peter Wimsey.

Its pre-war setting was interesting – showing Wimsey being called abroad to engage in diplomacy as well as having a character proclaim her eugenics theories.

People felt that the book was about whether it was possible for a woman to have it all – career, marriage and family. For the perpetrator of the poison pen letters the issue is clear cut. Annie, a scout in the college seeks revenge against the scholar Miss de Vine who in her mind caused her disgraced scholar husband to commit suicide.  But as one club member noted, the fact it was a woman scholar who outed her husband’s academic cheating provides her with another motive. Annie does not believe in women’s education. Her attacks are attacks on the women’s college as well as Miss de Vine.

Members of the book club found the world depicted in the book very class ridden. It was noted how the servants were not seen as people in their own right.

The question of how you read a book written long ago with values abhorrent to now was discussed. Harriet’s snobbery for example made it difficult for some to like her as heroine. Someone found the language of the book ‘pompous’

However it was felt that the book had contemporary relevance. A comparison was made between being a recipient of poison pen letters and being hassled by social media. The question of academic cheating remains and that of producing work of integrity.  The theme of how friends can grow apart is eternal.

Club members enjoyed humorous characters such as the academic Miss Lydgate endlessly revising a her proofs, the sub plot in which a young male scholar falls in love with Harriet Vane and the way in which women students steal each other’s boyfriends. Also the fact there was purple nail varnish mentioned. Some regretted however that it needed ‘a man’ i.e. Peter Wimsey to be called in to solve the crime.

The humour offsets instances of real pain: the tragic tale of Annie’s husband and his suicide and a glimpse of how real life and financial struggle can impoverish intellectually as in the case of Catherine Bendick, now a farmer’s wife.  Set at a time when few women achieved university education, Catherine’s choice of marriage is presented as a waste of a good brain.

Gaudy Night is more than a detective story but a disturbing novel about life’s choices and their consequences.

June’s book is classic crime Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett

July’s book was chosen by pulling a book club member’s recommendation out of a box, it’s Coffin Road by Peter May.

The book group meets the 1st Thursday each month 6pm – 7.30pm. Next meeting 1st June.