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A Month in the Country
A Month in the Country | J.L. Carr
109 posts | 69 read | 1 reading | 82 to read
In J. L. Carrs deeply charged poetic novel, Tom Birkin, a veteran of the Great War and a broken marriage, arrives in the remote Yorkshire village of Oxgodby where he is to restore a recently discovered medieval mural in the local church. Living in the bell tower, surrounded by the resplendent countryside of high summer, and laboring each day to uncover an anonymous painters depiction of the apocalypse, Birkin finds that he himself has been restored to a new, and hopeful, attachment to life. But summer ends, and with the work done, Birkin must leave. Now, long after, as he reflects on the passage of time and the power of art, he finds in his memories some consolation for all that has been lost.
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staci.reads
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Pickpick

Lovely, atmospheric, and deceptively simplistic, this is a beautiful story about restoration. My 2nd of @Liz_M 's recommendations for #NewYearWhoDis is another gem. @monalyisha

Liz_M You are tearing through the books! Seems like a perfect weekend. 😊 1w
staci.reads @Liz_M Well, I tested positive for Covid 3 days ago, so I'm stuck at home for a bit 🤷‍♀️😬 Books are my best friend right now. 1w
Daisey I started the year with this book and enjoyed it so much! 1w
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MrsMalaprop Oh no (re Covid) 😩. Wishing you a speedy recovery, & lots of good books in the meantime 🤞. 1w
BarbaraBB You have COVID too! Probably from your husband. I hope it‘s mild. Wishing you the best! 1w
staci.reads @BarbaraBB Yes, I'm definitely blaming him 🤣 It's been mild the 2nd time around, nothing like the first time, thank goodness. I'll give the vaccine credit for that. 7d
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Daisey
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Pickpick

This is my first read of 2022, and I enjoyed it more than expected. It‘s a quiet and reflective story of a signalman returned from WWI to a rural English village, which was a perfectly described setting. He has been hired to uncover a medieval painting in the local church. As he works, he gets to know the local people, comes to his own conclusions about the original artist, and finds at least some relief from the trauma of the war.

Daisey @JazzFeathers This is another one that I think might interest you in the way it speaks of the impact of WWI. 3w
Tamra Great read! 3w
JazzFeathers Oh, that sounds so much up my alley @Daisey Thanks so much for mentioning it 😊 3w
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Moll
Pickpick

I enjoyed this one - it was gentle and warm and thoughtful; it reminded me of my Grandpa & my degree🌻

And that's another book read for the #WinterGames2021! #TeamGameSleighers

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Moll

I haven't done much by way of the #WinterGames2021 this week; I've just been focussing on getting through and to this weekend tbh haha

I'm now back home with my parents for Christmas and am feeling happier & festive😍🌲

I watched Love Hard on Netflix earlier & it was so good; would recommend! I'm going to finish A Month In The Country tonight too and start Eight White Nights ❄

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Moll

2689 points for #Week2! #WinterGames2021 #TeamGameSleighers @StayCurious

I've been so grateful for the WG this week; even when I have been too anxious to read, I've enjoyed looking through all the posts!

I still managed to get a fair bit of reading done too! I finished Let It Snow & Glass Town, & am about halfway through A Month In The Country😍

I watched the #TeamMovie & found lots of words for the #WGWordSearch & the #Week2Game too🙌

StayCurious Hope things get a bit better for you soon! 1mo
Moll @StayCurious Thank you!! Currently feeling a fair bit better😊 1mo
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Moll
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review
shaynarae
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Pickpick

Sweet, poetic novella about a post-war vet who spends a summer in a rural English village restoring a recently-discovered medieval mural. The reading experience felt like a lazy summer day, flecked with humor.

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Ididsoidid
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Pickpick

A really delicate and considered novel about Tom Birkin, returned from the horrors of the front, as he simultaneously restores an unusual medieval fresco in a rural English church and his own fragile psyche. It reminded me of Steinbeck in style but with more humour. Beautiful. 7/10

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Cathythoughts
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This lovely book arrived yesterday evening.. I had to wait till the morning light to take a picture ... please who sent this to me ? ❤️

rockpools How lovely! 10mo
TrishB Oh book surprises ♥️ the best! 10mo
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Awww it‘s your lucky 🍀 month!! (edited) 10mo
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Liz_M Whoever sent it has good taste! 10mo
BarbaraBB Exciting, this mysterious parcel! But indeed a sender with good taste 🌺 10mo
Cathythoughts @rockpools @TrishB 👍🏻👍🏻❤️ the best 10mo
Cathythoughts @Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks It seems to be be ❤️👍🏻 10mo
Cathythoughts @BarbaraBB Book looks good 👍🏻❤️ 10mo
LeahBergen It‘s a lovely read! 10mo
Cathythoughts @LeahBergen oh good to hear 👏🏻 10mo
erzascarletbookgasm Lovely book surprises are pouring in! 😘🥳 10mo
Caroline2 Oh that was me!! 😆 Sorry, it wouldn‘t let me add a message but I hope you have a lovely birthday! 😘 10mo
Cathythoughts @Caroline2 Oh thanks so much !! I‘m thrilled with it & looking forward to it. Lots of great reviews here on Litsy. Thanks for thinking of me ❤️💕❤️ 10mo
Caroline2 You‘re welcome, enjoy! 😉 👍 10mo
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catebutler
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#NYRBBookClub A Month in the Country Discussion

Question 6/6:

What are the similarities of the original painter and Birkin? How are they connected to each other?

merelybookish I guess they are both outsiders and artists. One of my favorite aspects of this book was the depiction of Tom's craft, how that kind of immersive, attentive work was conveyed as good and worthwhile. 11mo
vivastory I agree with @merelybookish Again despite their religious differences I think it was more about finding common interests-in their case art 11mo
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Liz_M @vivastory The painter might not have been religious. And I think Birkin found hints of religious skepticism in the painter in the not-so-pious depictions of the various people in the painting -- they were individualized, given expressions not usually seen in religious paintings. 11mo
vivastory @Liz_M That's true. I was wondering about that, esp as he kept comparing the style to Bruegel 11mo
sarahbarnes @merelybookish I like that. And also in some ways under-appreciated for their craft (although maybe that‘s true of many artists). But no one hesitated to cover over the painting in the church. And then some folks in the story don‘t seem to understand how much talent Birkin has - why he can‘t just rush through the project and finish. 11mo
Billypar To be honest, this was the part I understood the least, even at a basic comprehension level. At first I thought the artist committed suicide and the discovery of the body on the grounds might mean the figure with the crescent was a self -portrait, maybe the suicide was due to feeling ostracized/ judged. But then..am I making waaay too many assumptions? The artist just knew the crescent figure and fell accidentally? Can someone enlighten me? 😅 11mo
GatheringBooks This q reminded me of this quote: “But she‘d put the ax to the very roots of my self-esteem: surely we shouldn‘t be required, even by worthy Ellerbecks, to justify the ethic of our labor? Our jobs are our private fantasies, our disguises, the cloak we can creep inside to hide.” Perhaps like the painter, Tom took refuge in his occupation, his means of avoiding the drama and war-torn nature of his life. 11mo
vivastory @GatheringBooks That quote jumped out at me too 11mo
quietjenn I think it's difficult, since we know so little about the original artist and what we think we know is really the characters speculating! Do you actually know the artist, through their work (and/or their grave)? 🤷‍♀️ 11mo
youneverarrived Good question! Maybe I‘m not thinking deep enough but I can‘t think of many similarities other than they both worked on the same painting with real attention to detail. I think Birkin felt a real connection to the painter, and made assumptions about him based on the painting but like @quietjenn says, it‘s difficult to say because we don‘t really know anything about the artist. It‘s all Birkins idea of him. 11mo
KVanRead @Liz_M @vivastory I wondered about that too and like @Billypar about the connection with crescent in the tomb and on the mirror. I agree with @merelybookish and accidentally already commented on this idea over on question 5, but think there‘s something interesting going on emotionally with Tom in his resistance to considering himself an artist and his hours alone on the scaffold with ancient artist start to ‘un-numb‘ him and break down that⤵️ 11mo
KVanRead ...resistance. 11mo
batsy Nicely put @merelybookish and @KVanRead. I also wonder if part of that connection is simply the feeling of comradeship he felt through the ages with this artist, whose work is the thing that gave Tom a sense of grounding and a place from which to recover. In that sense, he perhaps simply felt a sense of communion with the artist. 11mo
Billypar And now it's after 1 am and I seem to not be able to stop thinking about this @KVanRead @batsy @merelybookish 😂 I think he did feel a sense of comradery with the artist, maybe because he learned about the idea of a private hell of harboring a secret through the artist and what we find out about Moon. The reason has to do with a new theory I have about the artist's identity. I'll lay it out in the next post Bear with me... 11mo
Billypar 1) The body they find at the end is Piers Hebron who Moon was hired to find and who was excommunicated. 2) Piers Hebron is the falling man in the portrait with the crescent scar. Moon identifies the necklace as his converting to become a Muslim, the reason he was excommunicated. 3) This is more of a guess: Piers was the artist. If the artist just knew Piers, his painting him in the picture would be a judgment on him, so why... 11mo
Billypar would the rest of the church paint over just that figure before the rest? They were all judging him too. 4) Piers committed suicide by falling off the scaffold. After returning from his expedition and converting, he was excommunicated, and his last act of despair was to paint himself falling to hell before actually 'falling' off the scaffolding to his death. 5) After the rest of the church found him, they saw what he painted and painted over it 11mo
Billypar If you've read this far - thanks for humoring me 😁 The one other thing that occurred to me is Moon's name and Piers' crescent are connected because they were both harboring painful secrets. Birkins never really considered these hidden sides of people before but by the end felt more connected to Moon and the artist, and considered that his job wasn't just a technical career - art contains stories buried inside it. Whew - ok, I'm done, I swear! 11mo
KVanRead @Billypar intriguing!! I need to think on it some more but you may be onto something there. I really like the connection between Moon and the crescent- seems obvious now but I totally missed it. Also many of the characters seem to have a secret that is their private hell. Moon says sex is hell, Alice seems to have a secret about her marriage that is her hell, and her husband too we‘re told is not how he seems - he has a secret that makes things ⤵️ 11mo
KVanRead ...difficult for him. I actually considered that perhaps he might also be gay but that might just be me trying too hard to connect the dots. I do like that so much is left for us to ponder on our own. (edited) 11mo
batsy @Billypar I did not make that connection between the name Moon and the crescent, and now I'm intrigued. I also find the manner of the artist's death interesting and do wonder if we were meant to think about that a bit more or just accept the "fall" (but the meaning of the fall, in scriptural and life terms, adds another layer...) 11mo
Billypar @KVanRead It's true that there's a sense of mystery regarding the Keaches that could be more than just a bad marriage. This makes me want to do a full reread! 11mo
Billypar @batsy Yeah, the Biblical "fall" imagery does fit. Part of me wondered why Birkin was so convinced it was a fall - surely there are any number of things that could quickly kill him in medieval times without the brush strokes being affected. He does note that he had to use a stool, so maybe that's why? If it was accidental, it could still be the case that the church noticed the hidden portrait later and painted it over. 11mo
Billypar @batsy @KVanRead I also noticed on rereading that the hairs Birkin found on the portrait indicated the artist was 'fair-headed' and earlier he described the falling man saying "his bright hair streamed like a torch." So even if that's not proof positive that the artist was Pier, I think Carr wants us to consider that possibility. 11mo
merelybookish @Billypar I feel you are finding the ambiguity you were craving. 🤓 I think I did assume by the end Piers was the artist. I don't know why exactly. I will write more later. Time for a Zoom meeting. 🙁 11mo
Billypar @merelybookish Ha, I certainly did! ☺ 11mo
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catebutler
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#NYRBBookClub A Month in the Country Discussion

Question 5/6:

A transformation of the main character takes place over the span of the novel. What was Tom Birkin like when he arrived in Oxgodby? How does he change and what causes these changes?

merelybookish Well, I can't help but view Tom through a trauma lens. When he arrives in Oxgoodby, he is still struggling with the effects of trauma. What he finds there are all the things that we know help people heal: nature, community, purpose, art. 11mo
sarahbarnes @merelybookish I agree with that. When he arrives he seems closed up, closed off and protecting himself. He comes looking forward to solitude. But by the end he has let the people he meets there into his life, and he allows himself to appreciate the experience of being there. In a different way than he originally intended I think. 11mo
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vivastory When Birkin first arrived he was suffering from shell shock & seemed uncertain. Although the effects of shell shock had not entirely left by the time he had left, they had been greatly reduced. He seemed much more sure of the future, even if he didn't know what it would be for him. 11mo
vivastory @sarahbarnes Completely agree. I really appreciated how Carr didn't have Birkin leaving Oxgodby after a month magically cured either. This felt like a genuine look at trauma to me. 11mo
GatheringBooks @merelybookish love this view of Tom from a “trauma lens.” More than anything, he struck me as removed from his experience, like an outsider to his own life even. I wonder if he truly allowed people into his life, too @sarahbarnes with all the missed opportunities as captured in this quote: “for a few of us there will always be a tugging at the heart—knowing a precious moment gone and we not there” (edited) 11mo
arubabookwoman I think Tom was changed, and the healing was beginning. In some ways he didn‘t recognize this himself, and needed Moon to point it out to him. 11mo
quietjenn The trauma is so important. I'm not quite sure how to say it without sounding very hokey, but I feel like Tom is on a healing journey, trying to figure out how to exist again in the normal, not-at-war world and process the changes that have happened within himself. And his time in the country doesn't cure all, but it helps him take the steps he needs to take at this moment. 11mo
readordierachel @arubabookwoman Yes, and I think that's very true to life. Others see us better than we see ourselves. It makes sense that the change would be more obvious to Moon 11mo
readordierachel @quietjenn Yes, exactly. And I don't think that sounds hokey :) 11mo
Leftcoastzen He definitely arrived closed off , the trauma lens is a good way to look at what is going on in the novel.The slow progression of the task and his connecting with others, and seeing humor in situations lead you to believe he‘s healing and could make a life for himself. 11mo
youneverarrived @quietjenn exactly this. The trauma is an undercurrent running through the story. It felt like a healing journey/novel to me. 11mo
KVanRead @merelybookish “nature, community, purpose, art”—that‘s beautiful and sums it up perfectly and also what I really love about the book. @vivastory @sarahbarnes I also really appreciated how it‘s not all wrapped up at the end. I did quite like the way his relationship with the ancient artist is somewhat resolved. All the way through he outwardly refuses to identify himself as an artist- he‘s a workman, a professional- but he keeps having these⤵️ 11mo
KVanRead ...moments of deep connection with the ancient artist, and yet at the end he still tries to hold fast to this notion that it‘s no different from a pile of bricks but then “the numbness went” and he goes back and allows himself to feel a kinship with the artist. I think there‘s a great metaphor in there for his emotional journey through the book. He has been numb and has slowly begun to allow himself to feel. 11mo
vivastory @KVanRead Very well stated! It really was an epiphany, but much like the rest of the book it was handled so well & nuanced 11mo
KVanRead @vivastory Yes he conveys so much with so little and it‘s also such a pleasure to read! 11mo
Billypar @KVanRead You captured his progression perfectly - I completely agree! 11mo
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catebutler
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#NYRBBookClub A Month in the Country Discussion

Question 4/6:

Carr titles the novel, A Month in the Country. What is the importance of the country in the story? Why do you think Carr sets the story where he does?

vivastory I really liked @billypar idea that the month is a sort of heaven for Birkin. It's restorative for him after his war experience, although not completely & it is of course transitory. 11mo
Liz_M The idea of country is the opposite of war. It is quiet and empty, surrounded by nature. And there is an idea of country people as being more friendly, open and accepting aaaaannd inquisitive. It would be too easy to hide in the city - both anonymity as one person amongst many other strangers and hiding from oneself amid the hustle and bustle of a city. (edited) 11mo
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sarahbarnes Yes, agree with all of this. Birkin couldn‘t have had this restorative experience in another type of place where staying busy and distracted means he could avoid the healing he did here. 11mo
vivastory @Liz_M Brilliant point, Liz! I didn't think about the inquisitiveness! The forced sociability of villages made Birkin connect with people again which was def beneficial 11mo
merelybookish Carr wrote this in 1978 and I definitely felt nostalgia for an English countryside that is no more. Another loss in a way. Another place to which you cannot return. 11mo
vivastory @merelybookish I smiled a bit when I reached the final page because he finished it the month/year I was born 11mo
youneverarrived It‘s a place where he knows nobody and has no past experiences there so he can basically retreat (while doing his work on the painting). I can‘t imagine it being set in a busy city. The setting is a huge part of the novel; he finds a sort of peace and happiness in the surroundings and in the people he meets. 11mo
youneverarrived @merelybookish that‘s an excellent point. 11mo
GatheringBooks @sarahbarnes i love the notion of the title as being “restorative” and “healing.” One of the quotes I highlighted in the ebook I borrowed from Overdrive was this: “This is what I need, I thought—a new start and, afterwards, maybe I won‘t be a casualty anymore.
Well, we live by hope.” The fact that his wife also left him may have made him regard the month in the country as more than just an occupation, but a respite from everything else.
11mo
sarahbarnes @GatheringBooks I love that - that this was more about respite from everything he‘d been through and less about the job he went there to do. 11mo
vivastory @sarahbarnes @gatherinbooks A lesser writer would have def bogged down the narrative with technical details of wall painting restoration. I feel like Carr provided just enough details. 11mo
readordierachel @Liz_M Great point! It's funny that with more space there is less room for him to hide from people. And it ends up engaging him in ways he probably wouldn't have in a different setting 11mo
arubabookwoman I connected the country with the side of judgement paintings showing the “saved,” those who will be admitted to Heaven. They are often shown in a beautiful pastoral setting, greenery, trees and flowers, surrounded by beautiful angels. 11mo
quietjenn @Liz_M yes - country as the complete antithesis to what he experienced in the war. And that "forced sociability" that @vivastory notes - he is Dresden back into life almost accidentally and in spite of himself just by way of being there. 11mo
Leftcoastzen I love everyone‘s comments! In a sense I wonder irl the loneliness/ self imposed isolation in a city can lead to self medicating. There are just enough inquisitive people around to let him become himself again. A task like art restoration does have a quiet zen like quality that could be therapeutic.The country is quiet/beautiful/ slower paced. (edited) 11mo
sarahbarnes @vivastory that‘s such a great observation. I almost kept thinking that would happen when I was reading it. And it reinforces @GatheringBooks point that the work is secondary to the restorative experience. 11mo
KVanRead Love all these comments! @Liz_M that‘s brilliant about how the country people draw him out and force him to connect with others. @Leftcoastzen I definitely thought a lot about the healing meditative aspect of his job. Two other things struck me: the nature and the quiet especially as he mentions being distance even from country noises way up in his belfry. What a contrast that would be to the noise of the battlefield and also the brutal⤵️ 11mo
KVanRead ...destruction of nature by man that war produces. He spends a lot of this slim volume describing natural beauty. While still having nightmares of drowning in the mud, I can see how nature and art would be a balm. 11mo
KVanRead @vivastory that‘s so cool about your birthday. I love those kind of reading coincidences. @arubabookwoman thanks so much for explaining more of the connections to the art. I am going to have to Google some of those! 11mo
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catebutler
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#NYRBBookClub A Month in the Country Discussion

Question 3/6:

Many critics have described A Month in the Country as a quiet novel. What do you think of when you hear that term? Is it accurate for Carr's book?

vivastory I think it was completely accurate. When I think of the term quiet novel I usually think of a book where as far as plot not much happens, but something emotionally & psychologically significant occurs for the characters by the end of the book. I feel like I know characters better in books that are described as quiet. 11mo
Billypar The short answer for me us 'yes', but it's the kind of quiet that comes after a lot of noise given its proximity to the war. If the same events happened to a different character, it wouldn't feel the same, I think? Like they wouldn't have even remembered this month to begin with. 11mo
merelybookish @vivastory Well said! Calling a book 'quiet' makes me want to read it! I like books about ordinary characters where not much happens. So yes, I do think this book is quiet and that is why I liked it so much. 🙂 11mo
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sarahbarnes Yes! Nicely put @vivastory - you described the type of book I gravitate toward for sure. I think that‘s why I enjoyed this one so much. 11mo
vivastory @sarahbarnes @merelybookish I feel like Quiet Novels is a LitHub list waiting to happen 11mo
youneverarrived Same @merelybookish. It‘s the type of book I gravitate towards. 11mo
sarahbarnes @vivastory yes!! 🎉 I think it‘s also why when I love a book I read and someone inevitably asks me what it‘s “about” I always struggle a bit and end up just saying, it‘s about [insert character name]. 😂 11mo
LeahBergen I‘m with @merelybookish here - I love a quiet novel. I loved this book when I read it a couple of years ago and was hoping I‘d be able to reread it this month. Alas, no, but I sure am enjoying revisiting it through all your comments here! 11mo
LeahBergen And your definition of a quiet novel is spot on for me, @vivastory 👌🏻 11mo
Liz_M @Billypar builds excellently on @vivastory point above -- it is Birkin's experiences in the war and troubles at home that allow for the significant emotional and psychological growth. (edited) 11mo
Liz_M Are quiet novels also about what doesn't happen? Tingled with nostalgia and regret? 11mo
vivastory @Liz_M I think quiet novels def have at least a sprinkling of nostalgia & regret for sure. 11mo
Billypar @Liz_M That's true - I think this captured the feeling of nostalgia perfectly without becoming sentimental. And he couldn't have done that as well if not for the quiet I think. 11mo
Billypar @Liz_M @vivastory The aspect of regret is interesting. The romantic aspect didn't have the all-consuming focus that it takes on in most novels. Like maybe he regretted not acting on his feelings, but it wasn't a tragedy and it didn't affect his memory of this time as a happy one. 11mo
vivastory @Billypar @Liz_M Exactly. It wasn't a “My one true love lost forever“ narrative. It was that he met someone memorable at a special place & during an important time in his life. It felt very true to life in that way. 11mo
GatheringBooks @Liz_M great Q. If quiet novels are about what doesn‘t happen - then this description is spot on with this book where the very core/essence is grounded on what-might-have-beens. I like quiet novels, too, @vivastory. While my eyes usually glaze over largely-plot-driven novels, the quiet-slow-burn ones generally sustain my interest more and make me think long after I have finished reading the book. I like the lingering aftertaste of the story. 11mo
vivastory @GatheringBooks “Lingering aftertaste“ Well said! They really do stick with me longer, & I tend to remember more about them, than the more plot-driven stories. 11mo
quietjenn Ha, I have to smike at this, because my original Goodreads review of the book is "quiet and lovely," so safe to say I would agree! For me, quiet novels are ones that are more about character and settng, as opposed to action, which is certainly the case here. They are also probably my favorite type of novels. 11mo
quietjenn @vivastory I would be all over that listicle! 11mo
readordierachel @Billypar That's a great point re the contrast of the quiet after the noise of the war. It's quiet, yes, but that's something the character really needs. 11mo
Leftcoastzen There are so many subtle aspects of this novel , I tend to think Carr was rolling it around in his mind for a long time .NYRB seems to publish lots of quiet novels. Thought of 11mo
vivastory @Leftcoastzen No list of Quiet novels would be complete without Stoner 11mo
KVanRead @vivastory @Billypar @Liz_M you‘ve built a great description of a quiet novel and this one in particular! Quiet on the surface but very noisy underneath, tinged with nostalgia and regret. I also love the way he uses the quiet at time to lull you along and smack you with a sudden shift from quiet narrative to profound and somewhat shocking statements. 11mo
KVanRead Like the little meditation he goes in after the first scene with Colonel where he tells you btw, this guys not important: “he might just as well have gone round the corner and died” and that‘s true for most of us with most people. Dark. Bit of a velvet hammer he wields from time to time. Love it. 😍 11mo
vivastory @KVanRead Def a velvet hammer. What a great description!! Yes, there are a lot of great psychological insights in this rural setting 11mo
emilyhaldi I love @vivastory ‘s description of a quiet novel! I agree this is exactly that- which is why I loved it 💙 I enjoy books where the every day interactions and thoughts are where the “action” happen. 11mo
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catebutler
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#NYRBBookClub A Month in the Country Discussion

Question 2/6:

Class is briefly explored when Birkin accompanies the Ellerbecks & Mr. Dowthwaite to shop for a new pipe-organ. Should Carr have explored class more?

vivastory I don't feel like it was nec. to explore class more. I loved this scene. I thought it was hilarious. I think that a lot of class commentary would have felt a bit forced. 11mo
Billypar For such a short novel, I thought there were enough examples of class differences to provide that kind of context. I do wonder if the snobbishness about the thick dialect of the uneducated townspeople is just the characters or if Carr shares that perspective. 11mo
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merelybookish Class difference is there, it's present and it affects relationships. Carr acknowledges that with subtlety but I don't think he needed to do more. Much like Moss being gay, another brief acknowledgement of difference that is introduced in the novel. It can influence how we relate and understand one another, and yet, none the characters in the novel are reduced to merely their class, sexual orientation, or occupation. 11mo
vivastory @Billypar I DO wish he had explored a bit more the antagonism between the different provinces. Another part that I thought was very amusing was when he first arrived at Oxgodby & he was talking about carelessly stepping on their shoes 11mo
vivastory @merelybookish Yes, well said! He doesn't gloss over the intolerance that they face but he shows them as full characters. It's really remarkable. 11mo
Liz_M No, I think focusing on class more would have been a different novel. As an outsider to the town, in someways Birkin is outside of class, outside of society as whole, not just rubbing up against particular class boundaries. 11mo
youneverarrived No, I don‘t think it would have added much to the novel. @Billypar I think Carr was a Yorkshireman himself so he might have had a similar thick accent. (edited) 11mo
vivastory @youneverarrived Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you live in Yorkshire? 11mo
Billypar @youneverarrived That would be interesting if he did. I feel like some people avoid picking up their local accents based on the company they keep - i.e. educated people hang out with educated folks and have similar accents, whether they're rich or poor. But based on the Holroyd's intro, seems like Carr valued hanging out with all kinds of people - I liked what he said about his funeral and no one recognizing anyone else. 11mo
Leftcoastzen It was a great scene! I think Carr wanted a little scene like that in there , but didn‘t want to focus too much on class.You can almost see salespersons eye roll, here‘s some hicks from the sticks who have no money. 11mo
vivastory @Leftcoastzen Right?! When he went back over & started yelling 😂 Such a vivid humorous scene 11mo
Billypar Speaking of that introduction...I'm curious what people thought. There was some reference to class by his adoption of a butcher's persona to bestow a fake literary prize (how bizarre was that just in general btw? 😅). And his personality as a teacher kind of reminded me of Robin Williams' character in Dead Poet's Society. 11mo
vivastory @Billypar Hahaha! Have you listened to the Backlisted episode they did about him? They talk more about some of the strange antics he pulled. I def thought about DPS reading the intro 11mo
youneverarrived @vivastory I do! In York. Not many people speak thick Yorkshire like in the book though, it‘s definitely an older generation/rural thing. @Billypar that‘s true. From the intro it seemed like parts of his life went into the novel. 11mo
Billypar @vivastory I haven't, but they sounds fantastic: I'll have to give it a listen! 11mo
vivastory @Billypar I think you'd really like them. The Carr episode is the inaugural episode & although it took them a couple of episodes to really kind of find their feet it's def worth checking out. It's pretty well done. 11mo
GatheringBooks @Liz_M great point about Birkin being an outsider - and also outside of class issues actively experienced by the townsfolk. I am also in agreement with everyone else that the portrayal of class and even sexuality as @merelybookish also astutely mentioned was just right. Hence, it didn‘t struck me as an issue or themed-laden novel busy with its own sense of self-importance. It simply told a story that was riveting in its own right. 11mo
quietjenn I really appreciate that class issues were acknowledged, without necessarily being the focus. I thought this scene was hilarious. 11mo
quietjenn The dialect question is interesting and I sort of wonder about the moments when it was used, since I assumed other characters had accents (less strong?) that weren''t explicitly depicted, just like the stutter is mentioned but not written into the text. 11mo
arubabookwoman I don‘t think the book as a whole should have focused on class. He was just presenting the world as it was, so class issues come through. I enjoyed the scene with the snooty organ salesman-I mean how much does an organ salesman have to be snobby about. I could see the same scene taking place today in a shop on Rodeo Drive if a scruffy-looking customer walked through the door. 11mo
Billypar @vivastory I always confuse Backlisted with another one... Maybe Overdue? I've listened to one episode about We Have Always Lived in the Castle - I remember it being good. I read Dud Avocado and Bloody Chamber last year, so I'll of course have to try those too, in addition to this one's! 11mo
KVanRead I agree with @merelybookish It‘s there well beyond that one scene but he weaves it in with nuance ans subtlety like so much else in this book. He‘s a real master of the show don‘t tell school. I actually thought class was all over the place: in the accents, the homes, jobs, the rhythms of daily life, especially in the difference between Church and Chapel — who preaches, and their relationship with their flock. It really comes out in how the town⤵️ 11mo
KVanRead ...views the Keaches, how they don‘t fit in. Having said all that, I also loved this scene, very funny and charming but also kind of poignant. (edited) 11mo
merelybookish @Billypar @vivastory I am a total Backlisted convert (and generally don't like literary podcasts much). The episode on A Month in the Country wasn't as good as some others I've heard but it had lots of interesting info on Carr. 11mo
batsy @Billypar I read the Penguin edition that didn't have an introduction, sadly. But Carr's Wikipedia page has an anecdote interviewing for a teaching job and saying he wanted the job because being a teacher "gives you time to do other things". (He didn't get that job.) 11mo
batsy I didn't feel like it was necessary to include more class context because I do agree with the others in how it was woven in neatly into the narrative. The characters are all richly drawn and their interactions with each other are delicately observed, so you can see the role it plays in subtle ways. 11mo
15 likes27 comments
blurb
catebutler
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#NYRBBookClub A Month in the Country Discussion

Question 1/6:

Do you think that Carr was effective at comparing & contrasting the religious hell depicted on the wall painting & the hell that Birkin endured in WWI?

vivastory I think he was. I don't think it was explored in depth, but it kind of lingered in the background. 11mo
Billypar Maybe he was, but not in the usual way you'd expect. That comparison is noted explicitly by Birkin, but the entire novella strikes me as a description of what a certain kind of heaven is like. When the war is referenced you almost get a sense that it's the complete antithesis to what Birkin is currently experiencing, without actual hearing much of it described. The painting references that stark contrast between heaven and hell. 11mo
vivastory @Billypar That's really interesting re: that it's like the idea of heaven. Like an atheist's idea of heaven. The painting does seem so alien to what his own idea of hell was, his own experiences were I'm sure in some ways much more grim. I think that the battle that Birkin survived was when mustard gas was first used 11mo
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merelybookish Like other aspects of this book, I felt religion and religious belief was handled with such nuance. Birken has experienced hell on earth and it's easy to appreciate why he has lost faith (if he ever was a believer.) Somehow uncovering the painting and its depiction of hell helps him process his own trauma without, as @billyparr said, being totally explicit about it. 11mo
Leftcoastzen It was kind of lingering in the background, I thought he may have been recognizing his submerged feelings while uncovering the work.It was definitely an era where men who saw & survived such horrible things they questioned or abandoned faith if they ever had it. 11mo
youneverarrived If I remember rightly doesn‘t Birkin say that his hell was nothing like that depicted in the painting? Or something along those lines? I just got a sense that he didn‘t really believe in the religious type of hell after experiencing what he did. Like @vivastory said the idea is there, but not explored in depth. 11mo
vivastory @Leftcoastzen I think that uncovering the art also allowed him to communicate his experience in a way that wasn't really socially acceptable at the time 11mo
youneverarrived @Billypar yeah, I agree with this. His life in the village is depicted as idyllic (heavenly) and the snippets we get of his time in the war are hellish. 11mo
vivastory @youneverarrived I think you're right. He refused the comforts of religion after his war experience & it seems like he wanted to say that the religious hell & the hell he had suffered were distinct. But I wonder if he was still able to take comfort in it. I think he was also excited by the painting artistically because he realized the importance of it 11mo
Liz_M Yes, I think Carr effectively contrasted religious and real-world hell, fairly explicitly -- Alice asks Tom if he believes in hell @youneverarrived I liked Tom's answer: “Hell's different things to different people and different things to the same person at different times.“ (p. 95 of nyrb edition) (edited) 11mo
vivastory @Liz_M @youneverarrived Yes! I've had the same thought, just not in such memorable phrasing 11mo
Billypar @youneverarrived You're right - I just found that part. Moon draws the comparison to a battle in France, and Birkin recalls "I didn't see it like that. No doubt I didn't want to." At times it seems like he tries to emphasize the professional aspects of the painting if it's too painful to contemplate what the hellish images might bring up for him. 11mo
Leftcoastzen @vivastory totally agree ! It was the era of stiff upper lip you survived it so just move on. (edited) 11mo
youneverarrived @Liz_M I loved that quote. So true. 11mo
GatheringBooks The question made me revisit aspects of the book that didn‘t even occur to me as significant. Like what everyone else said, there was great subtlety in the way the war was referenced that it almost catches the reader off guard. The link to the painting and what Birkin endured during the war, whether explicit or otherwise, was not something I even noticed nor paid attention to. It was def alluded to, but not fully realized as everyone else noted. 11mo
GatheringBooks @Liz_M great capture of this quote. 👌🏽💕👏🏼 11mo
arubabookwoman I‘ve been studying art history with friends for several years, and we recently spent about 6 weeks on Fra Angelico, who painted several “Judgements.” The hell portion of medieval/renaissance Judgements frequently resembles Hieronymous Bosch paintings—demons inflicting torture, flames of hell, monsters. 11mo
quietjenn I think so, and very much like what @Billypar and @merelybookish note - that the exploration is done in a way that is nuanced and unexpected. I feel like he makes a lot of points and comparisons throughout the novel, without then being Points and Comparisons. 11mo
quietjenn @youneverarrived idyllic is the exact right word choice for it! 11mo
arubabookwoman I‘ve recently been studying the paintings of Fra Angelico, who did several Judgement paintings. The hell depicted by many medieval/renaissance artists often resembled the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch-demons and monsters and flames and all kinds of torture. But the people suffering were also usually depicted as evil and deserving of this treatment. I was being too literal and just thinking of these paintings rather than the WW I battlefields.👇🏻 11mo
vivastory @quietjenn Yes, def not heavy handed at all 11mo
arubabookwoman While the battlefields were Hell, I don‘t think of Birkin or any particular soldier of deserving that hell. Also, we can think of the life afterwards, remembering the horrors, as Hell. I also think of the one particular victim in the painting with the scar on his face that Birkin seemed to identify with, wondering whether the medieval artist was depicting a real person the paintings viewers would recognize. 11mo
vivastory @arubabookwoman That's a good point that life after war can be a type of hell too & I think that's where the trauma of Birkin plays out. I really appreciated how Carr handled this issue 11mo
KVanRead Spot on @Billypar Oxgodby really is a kind of heaven for him and I think that‘s underlined by the ending- the whole book has an aspect of longing reminiscence for a moment in time you wish you could return to but of course you never can it‘s perfect because it‘s preserved in time, like the painting was behind its lime wash. 11mo
KVanRead On the hell side, I was also quite struck by how subtly he introduced a third kind of hell, not of religion, nor of battlefield but one which Alice seems to spend time in, the hell of a bad marriage, or life, or maybe of the mind/anxiety/depression...”But even as I spoke, I knew she wasn‘t answered. It was neither that nor a bible hell had made her ask.” 11mo
KVanRead @arubabookwoman that‘s so interesting about the judgment paintings. That idea of deserved punishment really highlights the contrast and maybe reinforces him as a non believer because yes nobody deserves the hell of war so how to makes sense of biblical hell after experiencing that. 11mo
youneverarrived @KVanRead yes, I‘d forgotten about that part. There‘s lots of subtlety like that scattered throughout the book which I really admired. We‘re never shown or told exactly what the Keachs‘ marriage is like, we only have hints and glimpses like that. 11mo
KVanRead @youneverarrived yes, I love how he says more with less by these hints and glimpses 11mo
Billypar @youneverarrived @KVanRead I thought the part where she compliments Birkin's listening skills was a really good way of dramatizing what she was missing in her own marriage. It seems like a universal quality of bad relationships, just as relevant in 1920, 1980, or 2021. 11mo
KVanRead @Billypar That‘s an excellent point. She does seem to relate a lot to his aloneness perhaps because she doesn‘t feel much seen or heard in her marriage or the village for that matter. 11mo
youneverarrived @Billypar yeah I picked up on that too. @KVanRead that‘s a good point aswell, and maybe because he was an outsider she felt she could talk to him/gravitated towards him. 11mo
KVanRead @youneverarrived Yah, I think so too. 11mo
Suet624 @Billypar @vivastory What a beautiful way of describing this. I agree. I actually didn't compare and contrast the painting with what Birkin had experienced - my bad. But what Birkin experienced during his time with the painting was restorative and the surroundings that he lived in were heavenly. Even I felt the euphoria of the summer spent there. :) 11mo
Suet624 @KVanRead Really good point about the hell of a bad marriage being a third possibility within the book. 11mo
17 likes35 comments
blurb
arubabookwoman
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For our #NYRBBookClub this month we read the tagged book. The edition I read was not a NYRB edition, but was from a British publisher. It was illustrated with lovely pen and ink drawings like the above, which enhanced my reading, I think. This depicts the wagon ride to the church picnic.

charl08 That looks really lovely! 11mo
merelybookish How lovely! It seems like a book that should have illustrations! 11mo
batsy I agree with @merelybookish it's a book that deserves illustrations! So pretty. 11mo
26 likes3 comments
review
Billypar
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Mehso-so

#nyrbbookclub
Carr created a world that I truly enjoyed being inside. An old church in the English countryside with a medieval painting being restored? It was like an incredible vacation. I savored the descriptions and the characters were so richly developed that they seemed like friends. But my sense of curiosity began fading after Birkin's routine was established. I wanted more mystery or ambiguity, but I don't think it was that kind of book.

Billypar I might be the odd one out not giving it a pick, but there was lots to appreciate about the writing: I'm looking forward to the discussion! @catebutler @vivastory 11mo
vivastory I can appreciate wanting a bit more ambiguity. Nice review. 11mo
catebutler I too was swept up in the story of the painting, I do wish there would have been more to it as well. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the discussion. 11mo
arubabookwoman I would probably put it in the so-so category, or just a bit above. It‘s one I had been anticipating immensely, and I‘d heard great things about it. But I never felt fully engaged with it; It was competent, had some good parts, but I didn‘t find it special. I agree with @catebutler & wanted more to the story—with the art or perhaps even with the relationship with Alice. (edited) 11mo
Billypar @vivastory @catebutler @arubabookwoman I may have to up my rating - I kept thinking about the painting and posted a new idea that occurred to me in question 6. I feel like Carr buried a clever mystery in this that I didn't consider until now. That's why I love these discussions - I would have otherwise just set this aside and not even thought about it again! 11mo
36 likes5 comments
review
youneverarrived
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Pickpick

I read the majority of this Saturday night and what a lovely way to spend it. Summer in a little Yorkshire village back in 1920, unveiling a wall painting, talks with a fellow war veteran, the happiness that can follow great sadness and the passing of time that brings it. It says a lot about art and healing in an understated, compelling way. #nyrbbookclub ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

emilyhaldi Nice review ✨ 11mo
youneverarrived @emilyhaldi thank you! 💕 11mo
vivastory I love this pic. Great review, you really captured it well! 11mo
See All 8 Comments
merelybookish Healing! Such a good word for the book! 11mo
youneverarrived @vivastory thank you 😊 11mo
catebutler Such a lovely review and so well said! I think this one will stay with me for quite some time. 11mo
youneverarrived @catebutler thank you 🤍 same! I love books that are deceptively simple. 11mo
56 likes8 comments
review
batsy
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Pickpick

This small gem of a novel is filled with beauty and profundity. I'm not sure how J.L. Carr conveyed so much about the restorative powers of art, love, contentment, and community with an economy of language. There isn't a wasted sentence, much less a wasted word. Underlying the novel's gentle charm is the bittersweet acknowledgement that nothing ever lasts: "We can ask and ask but we can't have again what once seemed ours for ever". #nyrbbookclub

Liz_M Wonderful review! 11mo
kspenmoll Wonderful review! 11mo
See All 21 Comments
youneverarrived You put it so well! 🤍 11mo
Leftcoastzen Beautiful review. 11mo
emilyhaldi I loved that line as well! 💙 11mo
Come-read-with-me Great review! 11mo
Moray_Reads Loved this book. Love this cover 11mo
vivastory I think this is the only time where I have pref another cover over the NYRB edition. Stunning! Thoughtful review, as always. You're right. He really does capture life's transitory moments so concisely & memorably. 11mo
readordierachel Lovely review and a lovely edition 💕 11mo
merelybookish Well said! So much within a mere 120 pages. 11mo
LeahBergen Ooo, pretty edition! 11mo
batsy @emilyhaldi It was so simply and elegantly stated 💙 11mo
batsy @vivastory @Moray_Reads @LeahBergen The Penguin Essentials covers are delightful 😍 11mo
rohit-sawant Wonderful review! 11mo
batsy @rohit-sawant Thank you! 11mo
rubyslippersreads So much prettier than the NYRB cover. 😍 11mo
charl08 So many beautiful covers for this book! 11mo
batsy @charl08 It lends itself to lovely covers, doesn't it. A small gem ✨ 11mo
110 likes6 stack adds21 comments
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quietjenn
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#nyrbbookclub was a great reason revisit this one, which I first read a few years ago. It's so lovely and transporting.

BarbaraBB You reread it! Now I feel sorry I didn‘t. 11mo
quietjenn @BarbaraBB Oh, no! Not my intention! And I probably wouldn't have done so if it were a longer book or one I liked less 😏 11mo
BarbaraBB I hear so many good things that I am a bit sorry so didn‘t reread! 11mo
66 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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LeslieO
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🌟The Flatshare and We Keep the Dead Close
🌟 The tagged book
🌟 Tie: The Thursday Murder Club and We Run the Tides
#WeekendReads
@rachelsbrittain

review
mklong
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Pickpick

This book is an absolutely delightful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

#NYRBBookClub

Suet624 You‘re absolutely right. 11mo
catebutler I loved this quote! 11mo
Leftcoastzen I loved this quote too.I had to pause and savor it! 11mo
See All 8 Comments
BarbaraBB Gorgeous quote 🤍 11mo
merelybookish Great quote! One of many in this book! 11mo
batsy One of the many excellent passages in this book ❤️ 11mo
youneverarrived Love this quote. I read the majority of it last night and I was transported. 11mo
vivastory I loved this quote. Just so truthful without being too saccharine 11mo
40 likes8 comments
review
Leftcoastzen
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Pickpick

Wow, loved this #NYRBbookclub pick.Tom Birkin comes to Yorkshire, a veteran of the Great War, he is in Oxgodby to uncover & restore a work of art.The question quietly answered is if restoring a painting just might restore his soul.Beautiful passages abound in this short novel as he swaps war stories with fellow vet Moon , interacts with villagers, & finds beauty in the simplicity of the day to day .

Suet624 Another wonderful book from NYRB. 11mo
catebutler So pleased you enjoyed this one! Can‘t wait to discuss tomorrow!! 11mo
youneverarrived Great review! 🤍 11mo
58 likes3 comments
review
readordierachel
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Pickpick

"We can ask and ask but we can't have again what once seemed ours forever...They've gone and you can only wait for the pain to pass."

A lovely, gentle read about a veteran who spends a summer restoring a mural in a quiet English village. I liked it very much.

batsy Nicely put and love the choice of quote. I'm towards the end and liking it very much, too. 11mo
catebutler Great quote! There were so many throughout. Can‘t wait to discuss! 11mo
vivastory Looking forward to the discussion. Glad that this one worked for you! 11mo
78 likes1 stack add4 comments
review
merelybookish
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Pickpick

We loved it! So much depth, beauty, and humanity in this slim volume.
@catebutler @vivastory #nyrbbookclub

Lcsmcat Such a sweet kitty face! 😻 11mo
Bookzombie 💕🐈‍⬛ 11mo
rubyslippersreads 😻😻😻 11mo
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BarbaraBB Lovely pic! 11mo
LeahBergen Kitty! 🥰🥰 11mo
batsy 😻 11mo
merelybookish @Lcsmcat @Bookzombie @rubyslippersreads @BarbaraBB @LeahBergen @batsy He was sleeping on the back of the chair as I read so couldn't resist a good kitty shot.n 11mo
youneverarrived How gorgeous is your cat 😻😻 11mo
merelybookish @youneverarrived Oh he is well aware how handsome he is! 🐱 11mo
catebutler I‘m so glad you enjoyed it! And your cat is gorgeous!! (edited) 11mo
70 likes10 comments
blurb
vivastory
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This is an impressive cast, is it a good adaptation? Might have to watch it this weekend. #NYRBBookClub

LeahBergen I need to watch this! 👍🏻 11mo
Tamra Oh, is this a new release? Is it steaming? 11mo
CarolynM I haven't read the book, but I enjoyed this film a long time ago. 11mo
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sarahbarnes I‘m always in for a Colin Firth film! 11mo
Kdgordon88 I need to find this! 11mo
readordierachel With a cast like that, I imagine it's great! 11mo
quietjenn I really want to watch it now. 11mo
76 likes1 stack add8 comments
review
emilyhaldi
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Pickpick

Oh this book! 😭 One that requires some underlining of passages and a moment at the end to really soak it in. Poignant ✨

#nyrbbookclub

vivastory Lovely flowers! I agree, it's a short but memorable read! 11mo
catebutler I‘m so glad you enjoyed it! I can‘t wait to discuss on Sunday!! 11mo
LeahBergen Right? 😭 11mo
See All 9 Comments
Come-read-with-me Sounds like a good read! Stacked! Love the tulips. They seem fitting for a poignant story. 11mo
BarbaraBB Wonderful pic. I read this book so long ago I unfortunately remember hardly anything anymore 11mo
Tamra It‘s definitely a keeper! 11mo
batsy Gorgeous photo 😍 11mo
Reviewsbylola I think I‘m going to start this tonight. 11mo
catebutler Yes, I agree completely with your comments. ☺️ 11mo
84 likes1 stack add9 comments
quote
merelybookish
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Phew! 😅 I feel like the author read my mind. There's only so much stone description I can handle. 😆
#nyrbbookclub @vivastory @catebutler

vivastory Same. Same. 😂 11mo
catebutler This made me laugh! 😄 11mo
sarahbarnes 😂😂😂 11mo
batsy I had the same reaction 😆 11mo
merelybookish @vivastory @catebutler @sarahbarnes @batsy No stone fanciers amongst us? 🤣 11mo
63 likes5 comments
blurb
emilyhaldi
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Taking a little break from my #tob reading list to get to this month‘s NYRBBookClub pick 😊

Maria514626 This sounds amazing! 11mo
kspenmoll Lovely cover! 11mo
vivastory I hope you like this one! 11mo
83 likes3 comments
review
vivastory
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Pickpick

Recovering from shell shock, WWI veteran Tom Birkin arrives in Oxgodby to restore a large Medieval wall painting in the village church. The events of the novel take place over the summer & autumn, with Birkin occasionally discussing his wartime experiences with others, most often with fellow veteran Moon. Oxgodby is a typical idyllic setting & the carefree life along with the languorous seasons of summer & autumn are restorative for Birkin.👇

vivastory Yet, what I found particularly striking in Carr's book (along with the humor) is his observations about the regenerative power of Art. A Month in the Country is a tender & elegiac book that praises the enduring powers of Art & memorializes life's passing moments & relationships. #NYRBBookClub 11mo
Leftcoastzen Nice review! 11mo
vivastory @Leftcoastzen Thanks! I really liked this one. I wasn't aware until just now that apparently there was a movie adaptation as well starring Colin Firth & Kenneth Branagh 11mo
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KVanRead Great review! My copy is due to arrive in a few days and I can‘t wait to read it now. 11mo
vivastory @KVanRead It's a fantastic novella. I think you'll like it. I'm looking forward to the discussion next week! 11mo
BarbaraBB Fab review. You brought it all back to me (forgot about it mostly). I agree so much on the regenerative power of art. 11mo
vivastory @BarbaraBB Thanks! I remember you said you read it years ago. Didn't know if you were planning on a reread. While at the library today I picked up 11mo
BarbaraBB I‘ve been eyeing that one as well! 11mo
Suet624 Fair Play looks really good. 11mo
vivastory @BarbaraBB @Suet624 I can wait a few weeks to read it, if you want to do a buddy read 11mo
BarbaraBB I‘d like to. I need to get a copy. What do you think @Suet624 ? 11mo
Suet624 @barbarabb My libraries didn't have a copy so I just ordered it from NYRB. I'm working on a March 2nd election and next week the staff of 2 should be receiving about 10,000 ballots so I'm out for actually reading next week. But definitely would enjoy a buddy read after March 2nd if that fits in Scott's and your schedule. 11mo
BarbaraBB @Suet624 That would be perfectly fine for me. My copy won‘t arrive before March 6 to be honest. 11mo
vivastory @Suet624 @BarbaraBB That works for me. How about the middle of March? (Week of the 15th) 11mo
BarbaraBB @vivastory @Suet624 I‘d really like that! 11mo
rohit-sawant Lovely review! Stacked this recently. 11mo
88 likes1 stack add17 comments
quote
vivastory
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"It was breathtaking. (Anyway, it took my breath.) A tremendous waterfall of color, the blues of the apex falling, then seething into a turbulence of red; like all truly great works of art, hammering you with its whole before beguiling you with its parts."

vivastory #NYRBBookClub Bruegel's The Peasant Dance 11mo
Suet624 Lovely quote. 11mo
Nute What a wonderful sentence! Is it describing a dance scene? My imagination could take it in many varied directions!🙂 11mo
vivastory @Nute No, the book is describing a medieval wall painting that is uncovered in a church. Carr compares the work to Bruegel at a couple of points, so I thought this was fitting but as you said it could easily be applied to any painting you want. 11mo
youneverarrived Wow, that‘s a brilliant quote. I‘m just starting this tonight and looks like everyone has enjoyed it so far. 11mo
79 likes5 comments
blurb
Leftcoastzen
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#NYRBbookclub I never know if I should say yay or 😳💸 to this!

vivastory So tempting😈📚😈📚 11mo
42 likes1 comment
review
sarahbarnes
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Pickpick

What a lovely read this was! Funny and warm, with a twinge of sadness here and there. It was nice to spend some time in summer during this weather. ❄️ Looking forward to discussing this one! #nyrbbookclub

vivastory Glad that you enjoyed this one! Looking forward to the discussion. 11mo
43 likes1 comment
blurb
sarahbarnes
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“Aren‘t you supposed to be great supporters of nose-to-the grindstone? Yet here you are, in a public place, recommending malingering.”

😂 Loving this book so far!

vivastory I am a big supporter of malingering 😂 11mo
Sparklemn As am I! 🙃 11mo
sarahbarnes @vivastory @Sparklemn @batsy so glad to hear that as a malingerer I‘m in good company. 😂 11mo
38 likes4 comments
review
Suet624
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Pickpick

A fantastic book to read in the depths of winter. They say this is a story of lost love. For me, it was a story of awakening to life again after serious trauma, of the smell of the flowers, of the heat of the August sun, of dew on the grass, the mystery of art, the rhythms of the summer season experienced while living in the country, of a lost opportunity. A quick and lovely read that pulled me out of my snowbound world. #NYRBbookclub

vivastory What a lovely review, Sue! I'm really looking forward into diving into this one in a couple of days. 11mo
Suet624 @vivastory Thanks, Scott. I think you‘ll like it. Another terrific NYRB club selection. (edited) 11mo
Lindy Beautiful review. I love this book too. 😊🌞 11mo
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Suet624 @Lindy thank you. I can definitely see this book being an annual winter read. It puts you smack dab in the middle of summer. 11mo
batsy Lovely review 🌻 I'm really looking forward to it! 11mo
BarbaraBB Fab review. I read the book a long time ago but remember the feeling and the smells of summer throughout the book! 11mo
Suet624 @batsy enjoy!! 11mo
Suet624 @BarbaraBB thank you. I‘ll definitely read this one again. 11mo
sarahbarnes Lovely review! Starting this today! I‘m excited. 😊 11mo
LeahBergen I loved it, too, when I read it a couple of years ago. I‘m hoping to have a quick reread before our discussion. 😊 11mo
Suet624 @sarahbarnes I hope you enjoy it. 💕💕 11mo
Suet624 @LeahBergen it felt like a great way to dip into the peace of the countryside. 11mo
kspenmoll Sounds just the tonic needed in depths of winter. 11mo
Hamlet Lovely review & right on target (as I see it). 11mo
Suet624 @kspenmoll it was indeed. 😁 11mo
Suet624 @Hamlet thank you! 11mo
emilyhaldi Lovely review ✨ 11mo
Suet624 @emilyhaldi 💕💕 Thank you. 11mo
catebutler Great review! I look forward to discussing next week!! 11mo
youneverarrived If I wasn‘t going to read this already you would have sold me. Lovely review! 🤍 11mo
Suet624 @catebutler thank you! I look forward to the discussion as well! 11mo
Suet624 @youneverarrived thank you so much. I hope you enjoy the book. 11mo
68 likes1 stack add22 comments
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vivastory
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Faibka Loved it! 💕 looking forward to it 11mo
LeahBergen I loved this book. ❤️ 11mo
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Tamra Loved it! 11mo
catebutler Can‘t wait to discuss with everyone! 11mo
Suet624 I‘m snickering a bunch while reading it. 11mo
youneverarrived I‘m hoping my book is going to turn up soon so I can start it 🤞 11mo
72 likes7 comments
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Leftcoastzen
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Need to start this one for the #NYRBbookclub
So glad my library does curbside pickup! I love this publishing program but I can‘t buy them all.

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Faibka
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“Well, we all see things with different eyes, and it gets you nowhere hoping that even one in a thousand will see things your way.”
What a wonderful read this is turning out to be, for some reason it‘s bringing out a lot of nostalgia in me, and I guess that‘s what great literature does, it touches upon certain feelings that are common to all. Many thanks to @vivastory for bringing this book into my awareness :)
#NYRBbookclub

vivastory I'm glad you're enjoying it. I agree re: great lit. Looking forward to diving into this one. 12mo
BarbaraBB You can participate in the discussion about this book in the last weekend of February if you like! 12mo
Faibka @vivastory I hope you enjoy it too! :) 12mo
Faibka @BarbaraBB sounds great, thank you! :) 12mo
22 likes4 comments
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BarbaraBB
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#NYRBBookclub

Thank you all for a great kick-off of our second season. You smart people add so many new ways to look at the The True Deceiver and I loved our discussion as much as the book. Thanks for having me as your co-host Scott!

Our February choice I read in 2012. I don‘t remember much about it, but apparently it was a 4-star read for me! It might be time for a reread! Thanks all!

LeahBergen I came late to the discussion today and I‘m still reading through all of the comments. What an amazing bunch of commentary! And what a book club we have. ❤️❤️ Thanks for hosting this month! 😘😘 12mo
vivastory I believe this was one of the first titles published by NYRB. You must have read it when it was first published! 12mo
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BarbaraBB @vivastory I‘m such an early adopter 😉 12mo
BarbaraBB @LeahBergen It really was such an enlightening discussion, I feel proud of our book club too! 12mo
sisilia I read this last year, and am going to read it again for my IRL bookclub in June... this can be my annual summer read, and True Deceiver annual winter read 😄 12mo
batsy This has been a crazy day and I haven't been able to really gather my thoughts yet to answer all of the questions, but I've read through some of the responses and it's so enlightening 🙌🏽 Thank you both for hosting a great discussion 💜 @vivastory 12mo
Suet624 Thank you Barbara for a wonderful set of questions. It was quite the discussion! So rich. 12mo
BarbaraBB @sisilia You could do worse 😉 12mo
BarbaraBB @batsy @Suet624 It was a great discussion. I am so happy to be part of this awesome book club! 12mo
Billypar Thanks to you and @vivastory for facilitating such a fantastic discussion to a great novel! It would have been a shame to read this one and have no one to talk to afterwards, so I'm thankful #nyrbbookclub exists 🙂 12mo
quietjenn Thank you for co-hosting and asking such provoking and thoughtful questions. I really appreciate this book club and all the members. 12mo
BarbaraBB @Billypar @quietjenn We‘re lucky to have you! 🤍 12mo
emilyhaldi Thank you for hosting!! I‘ve been distracted the past couple of weeks... finally finished the book on Sunday but didn‘t make it to the discussion. After reading the comments though I have to agree with you- wow! Such amazing insights from this group 🤩 12mo
70 likes14 comments
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vivastory
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I want to thank @BarbaraBB for acting as co-host for our January selection. We had a great discussion today & our new group members offered some wonderful insights! In Feb. we will be reading Carr's novel. Join @catebutler & I for another discussion. I am looking forward to your nominations for March @daena #NYRBBookClub Reposting link to inaugural Backlisted episode about tagged
https://open.spotify.com/episode/1Xvgdm4EvAdAVbWu9V2uFb

arubabookwoman I want to add how much I enjoyed the book, and to thank @BarbaraBB for her excellent and thought-provoking questions, which really made me think! 12mo
Leftcoastzen My day went berserk so looking to get to those questions though late to the party. 12mo
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quietjenn Thank you so much to both you and @BarbaraBB for this discussion! It was so insightful and helped me appreciate the book so much more. Looking forward to discussing more with you all. 12mo
vivastory @arubabookwoman Thanks for your thoughts on the book. It was a lively discussion! 12mo
vivastory @Leftcoastzen Chime in! I'm curious on your thoughts. It was a great discussion 12mo
vivastory @quietjenn I always leave with new insights after our monthly discussions. They truly are a highlight for me! Thanks for your great comments!! 12mo
Reviewsbylola Just picked this one up from the library yesterday! 12mo
vivastory @Reviewsbylola Does your library have a lot of NYRB titles? I just put holds on a few at minr 12mo
vivastory *mine 12mo
merelybookish A great kick-off to Season 2 of #NYRBbookclub! 12mo
LeahBergen Like @Leftcoastzen , my day got away from me and I‘m just reading through all the comments right now. I don‘t feel I have much more to add; what an impressive and erudite chat it was today!! 12mo
vivastory @LeahBergen It really was a fantastic discussion! I think our new group will work out nicely 👏💙 12mo
Liz_M Thank you @BarbaraBB and @vivastory for leading a fantastic discussion yesterday! 12mo
daena @vivastory going to look through my shelf soon and narrow down the choices. Anything particular to keep in mind? 12mo
Moray_Reads This is such a tender, well-constructed story. It does so much in just a few pages. I loved it when I read it a few years ago 12mo
vivastory @Moray_Reads Feel free to join the discussion! We haven't set a date or time yet, but it will be on the final weekend of Feb. I'll announce a set date a couple of weeks beforehand 12mo
vivastory @daena Sorry I didn't see your note until this morning. You did great ☺️ 12mo
70 likes1 stack add18 comments
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vivastory
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#NYRBBookClub Join @catebutler & I in February as we read & discuss one of the first titles to be published by NYRB Classics: J.L. Carr's “A Month in the Country.“ I have heard high praise for this one & am looking forward to our discussion. For anyone interested, Carr's book was the focal point for the inaugural episode of Backlisted: https://open.spotify.com/episode/1Xvgdm4EvAdAVbWu9V2uFb

emilyhaldi Looking forward to this!! 13mo
LeahBergen Awesome! 👍🏻 13mo
See All 17 Comments
Faibka I‘m in! :) 13mo
Liz_M 🤸💃 13mo
catebutler Yay! So excited to read this with everyone! 13mo
KVanRead Yay! 13mo
KVanRead Btw, apologies if I missed it, but is there a schedule for when we are co-hosting? 13mo
merelybookish @KVanRead It's done in alphabetical order by our first names, so you can guesstimate a bit based on that. Plus @vivastory will give you plenty of notice when it's time to choose books. 🙂 13mo
KVanRead @merelybookish Thanks! Good to know. 13mo
batsy Nice! I already have a copy so that's a bit of a relief considering the state of international mail at the moment :) 13mo
vivastory @KVanRead As long as the schedule goes as planned you will be nominating the August selection 13mo
KVanRead @vivastory how perfect, that‘s my birthday month😀 13mo
Tanisha_A Woohooo! 😁 13mo
saresmoore Yay! 13mo
youneverarrived Looking forward to reading this 🤍 13mo
Suet624 I still haven‘t received my January selection that I ordered ages ago from NYRB. 13mo
80 likes1 stack add17 comments
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RaeLovesToRead
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At only 85 pages long, I've found an even shorter book on my TBR... I've been promised that this book is absolutely lovely so I'm happy to boost it up for the 2021 challenge.
#popsugarreadingchallenge

19 likes1 stack add
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KarenUK
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#bookreport & #weeklyforecast
Not much time for reading this week, but LOVED both I finished, and am loving my In progress #ARC.

- The #NYRB tagged book was sad and hopeful and beautifully written, and The Secret Garden audio was delightful!
-The Orchard is shaping up to have a ‘Jewish Secret History‘ vibe as reported.
- Eileen was a gift from lovely @Cathythoughts and is my #bookspin and Harpy is next to be released from my NetGalley queue.

Cinfhen I started The Orchard last week, I‘m really underwhelmed. It feels very unpolished...it‘s probably me. 1y
KarenUK I‘m only 18% in and liking it so far.... we‘ll see... 🤷‍♀️💕 @cinfhen 1y
41 likes2 comments
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Ruthiella
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1. No different from previous years. I don‘t have children and I stopped handing out candy a few years ago. 🎃

2. I‘m grateful for my sister. She‘s the best! ❤️

Thanks for the tag @Klou ! 😀

#ThoughtfulThursday

Cosmos_Moon Thanks for joining in 🎃 1y
23 likes1 comment
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KarenUK
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Posting a couple of days late.... but here‘s my progress with #readwithmrbook ....

Had the tagged #NYRB #onTBRforever but it was well worth the wait.... Loved it! 💕

MrBook Awesome!!! 🤗🤗🤗🤗 1y
37 likes1 comment
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KarenUK
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#SeptWrapup
12 books including 2 re-reads for bookclubs (Queenie and My Sister the Serial Killer)

Loved Monogamy, a Month in the Country & Girl, Woman, Other .....💕
A rare DNF for Broken Girls, some summer fluff for #popsugarsummer and 3 NetGalley reads, True Story easily being the best of the three....

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KarenUK
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Pickpick

What a lovely, quiet story. Melancholy yet somehow hopeful. Tom is a broken man, suffering with lingering trauma from the Great War and a difficult marriage, he takes a commission to restore a medieval Church mural in a Yorkshire village. This beautifully written novella is so full of touching moments, beautiful descriptions and heartbreaking passages, saying so much about art, love, faith and the human condition. Just wonderful.
#doublespin

TheAromaofBooks Great review!!! 1y
Emilymdxn I felt exactly the same!! Fantastic book and fantastic review 1y
BarbaraBB I loved this one too. Of course 👯‍♀️ 1y
42 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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KarenUK
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#nextup my #doublespin pick, that also works for my last for #popsugarsummer and also it‘s been on my #tbr forever #readwithmrbook
The perfect #tripledip !!

Also, Thank you so much Helen for the lovely postcard! I‘m going to use it as a bookmark..... 😘💕
@squirrelbrain

squirrelbrain Oh gosh that didn‘t take long... it‘s a snazzy new app that I found - use your own photos and no need to go to the shop or the Post Office! 😘 1y
35 likes1 comment
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KarenUK
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#alphastack today is #letterM and may just be my favorite yet.....
From two Momofukus and my 3 different anniversary Matildas, to old and new favorites.... this was an easy stack to build.... Only one from my #TBR which is the tagged #NYRB that I‘m going to read soon... 📚💕

BarbaraBB Great choices again! 1y
KarenUK Just realized I left out two of favorites! Mothering Sunday & A monster calls.... 🤦‍♀️ @BarbaraBB 1y
51 likes2 comments
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ChaoticMissAdventures
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Panpan

This was a struggle.
The language is not enjoyable.
What did meth mean in 1920 because it means something different now.
I was hoping for something like Remains of the Day but this is a far cry from that.

charl08 Sorry you didn't like this one. I had a look in the Oxford English- meths is a shortened form of methylated spirit, used (eg) by painters to clean brushes or as a source of fuel in a camping stove. It's also alcohol so some of the examples in the dictionary have jokes at the expense of people who drank it despite it being a generally bad idea (it was cheap). Does any of that make any sense in the context? 1y
ChaoticMissAdventures It does. Yes. This is one of those books that you have to have a dictionary with it because you are going to be looking up 3-4 words a page because we do not use them the same now. Meth was one example that really stuck out here. Normally that doesn't bother me in books but I am just not feeling it with this one. 1y
19 likes2 comments