Hello all. Time for another Reading group post (sorry it’s been a while to post!)
June’s book club choice was:
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ – Philip Pullman
I’ve never read any Pullman before, and my friend who picked this one said she didn’t go for any of the ‘His Dark Materials‘ trilogy, or other more obvious choices, but instead went for this novel as it is something very different to what most of us would probably pick, and because it was bound to have a lot to discuss.
Most of the group really enjoyed reading the novel. We felt that it was easy to read and not too long in length so none of us got bored. However, there were points where we got a little lost trying to understand what exactly was going on. It was interesting as we all have very different upbringings when it comes to religion, coming from Catholic, Protestant, Muslim and atheist backgrounds. Despite this, though, quite a few of us felt that we’d like to re-read The Bible at some point to refresh the original new testament story in our minds, and compare how Pullman’s retelling of it compares.
Though Philip Pullman perhaps isn’t Christianity’s biggest fan, I didin’t feel like this novel was completely destroying the whole concept of the Christian faith like some reviews claim. It certainly painted Christianity in a negative light at times, but I felt it was a really interesting retelling and wasn’t too preachy. It’s written in a similar way to the new testament, but with modern English language so it’s obviously a lot easier to understand.
I really loved the basic idea of the book- that Jesus had a twin called Christ, and this explains some of the ‘miracles’ in the Bible. I won’t give away anything else so as not to ruin enjoyment of the book, but it’s really interesting to read elements that most of us have probably learned about in school, if not more recently, and see how they’ve been altered to fit this new story.
One thing we did all highlight in the book group session, however, was that there were a few points where we all got quite lost and unsure of what was going on. This was despite some of us having a better recollection and understanding of the Bible than others. I certainly felt like sometimes the many character names were a little confusing, but others may not find that this is the case. It’s only a short novel but I did find I lost interest a bit in these confusing bits. I think if you really aren’t interested at all in Christian theology, even if just to see how Pullman has changed certain parts, then this may seem a little pointless and probably isn’t for you!
Overall I was really pleased that this was picked as the book group choice this month, as it wasn’t something I probably would have picked myself, and would recommend this to anyone interested in reading classic tales, re-told.
Orange is the New Black: My Time in a Women’s Prison – Piper Kerman
With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system.
From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance.
Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.
I’m really looking forward to reading this – I love the TV series (so far- I haven’t finished it yet) but will be interested to read the novel that the show is based on. I have to admit I didn’t realise that the programme was based on a book at all – did anyone else know this?
That’s all for now, but I’ll be back with a new review very shortly!