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Bookshop Bookclub

Bookshop Bookclubs

Our lunchtime and evening bookclubs are restarting in January.

Both bookclubs will now be online and places can be booked by purchasing the books below.

Details of how to access each bookclub will be emailed out to attendees on the day before it takes place.

Evening Bookclub – February

That Reminds Me by Derek Owusu

Tuesday 16 February at 8pm

Join us on Zoom to discuss this stunning coming of age novel. The Zoom link will be emailed out to attendees the day before.

K is sent into care before a year marks his birth. He grows up in fields and woods, and he is happy, he thinks. When K is eleven, the city reclaims him. He returns to an unknown mother and a part-time father, trading the fields for flats and a community that is alien to him. Slowly, he finds friends. Eventually, he finds love. He learns how to navigate the city. But as he grows, he begins to realise that he needs more than the city can provide. He is a man made of pieces. Pieces that are slowly breaking apart

That Reminds Me is the story of one young man, from birth to adulthood, told in fragments of memory. It explores questions of identity, belonging, addiction, sexuality, violence, family and religion. It is a deeply moving and completely original work of literature from one of the brightest British writers of today.

Winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize 2020

“Beautiful… heartfelt” Benjamin Zephaniah

“Stunning” Bernardine Evaristo

“Heartbreaking” Christie Watson

Purchase of this bookclub ticket includes a copy of That Reminds Me which can be collected from the shop or posted out.

Lunchtime Bookclub – February

The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan

Wednesday 17 February at 12 noon

Join us on Zoom to discuss this fascinating historical novel. The Zoom link will be emailed out to attendees the day before.

Herbert Powyss lives on a small estate in the Welsh Marches, with enough time and income to pursue a gentleman’s fashionable cultivation of exotic plants and trees. But he longs to make his mark in the field of science. He hits on a radical experiment in isolation: for seven years a subject will inhabit three rooms in the cellar of the manor house, fitted out with books, paintings and even a chamber organ. Meals will arrive thrice daily via a dumbwaiter. The solitude will be totally unrelieved by any social contact; the subject will keep a diary of his daily thoughts and actions. Only one man is desperate enough to apply for the job: John Warlow, a semi-literate labourer with a wife and six children to provide for. The experiment, a classic Enlightenment exercise gone more than a little mad, will have unforeseen consequences for all included.

“An extraordinary, quite brilliant book” C J Sansom

“She is an original, with a virtuoso touch” Hilary Mantel

Purchase of this bookclub ticket includes a copy of The Warlow Experiment which can be collected from the shop or posted out.

Previous Books

Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner

13 January at 12 noon

Lolly Willowes, so gentle and accommodating, has depths no one suspects. When she suddenly announces that she is leaving London and moving, alone, to the depths of the countryside, her overbearing relatives are horrified. But Lolly has a greater, far darker calling than family: witchcraft.

‘A great should of life and individuality… an act of defiance that gladdens the soul.’ – The Guardian

‘The book I’ll be pressing into people’s hands forever… It tells the story of a woman who rejects the life that society has fixed for her in favour of freedom… Tips suddenly into extraordinary, lucid wildness.’ – Helen Macdonald

‘Witty, eerie, tender… her prose, in its simple, abrupt evocations, has something preternatural about it.’ – John Updike

Purchase of this bookclub ticket includes a copy of Lolly Willowes which can be collected from the shop or posted out from 29 December.

The Snow Ball by Brigid Brophy

Tuesday 12 January 8pm

Recently reissued by Faber and Faber, The Snow Ball caused a scandalous sensation when it was first published in 1964. Set during a New Year’s Eve party in a Georgian mansion, the novel promises a carnival of dazzling wit, subversive sexual politics and wicked satire!

Order your copy and join us for our first evening bookclub discussion of the year.

Purchase of this bookclub ticket includes a copy of The Snow Ball which can be collected from the shop or posted out from 29 December.

Nydia Hetherington

Tuesday 10 November, 8pm

At Sevenoaks Bookshop we love to feature and support debut novelists. This year many brilliant debut novels will not have received the attention they deserve so this is more important to us than ever. We loved this book and can’t wait to share it with you!

Online event, tickets include a copy of A Girl Made of Air.
Join us on Zoom to hear Nydia Hetherington talking about her beautiful intoxicating debut novel, A Girl Made of Air.

Details of how to access the Zoom event will be emailed to registered attendees the day before the event. You do not need to come to the shop to pick up a ticket, but at the checkout do select whether you want to collect the book or to pay for delivery.

About A Girl Made of Air:

Haunted by an incident in which a child was lost from the circus, our narrator, a tightrope artiste, weaves together her spellbinding tales of circus legends, earthy magic and folklore. A Girl Made of Air brings the circus to life in all of its grime and glory; Marina, Manu, Serendipity Wilson, Fausto, Big Gen and Mouse will live long in the hearts of readers. As will this story of loss and reconciliation, of storytelling and truth.

For fans of Angela Carter and Erin Morgenstern.

About the author:

Originally from Leeds, Nydia Hetherington moved to London in her twenties to embark on an acting career. Later she moved to Paris where she studied at the Jacques Lecoq theatre school before creating her own theatre company. When she returned to London, she completed a creative writing degree at Birkbeck.

Wednesday 21 October at 12 noon

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

In 1956, towards the end of Reverend John Ames’s life, he begins a letter to his young son: ‘I told you last night that I might be gone sometime . . . You reached up and put your fingers on my lips and gave me that look I never in my life saw on any other face besides your mother’s. It’s a kind of furious pride, very passionate and stern. I’m always a little surprised to find my eyebrows unsinged after I’ve suffered one of those looks. I will miss them.’

A fictional autobiography of the Reverend John Ames, an elderly, white pastor in the small, secluded town of Gilead in Iowa (also fictional), who knows that he is dying of a heart condition.

Marilynne Robinson has used characters and events from Gilead in three more novels – Home, Lila and Jack.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Tuesday 20 October at 8pm

Author of The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead, brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in 1960s Florida.

Elwood Curtis has taken the words of Dr Martin Luther King to heart: he is as good as anyone. Abandoned by his parents, brought up by his loving, strict and clear-sighted grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But given the time and the place, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy his future, and so Elwood arrives at The Nickel Academy, which claims to provide ‘physical, intellectual and moral training’ which will equip its inmates to become ‘honorable and honest men’.

In reality, the Nickel Academy is a chamber of horrors, where physical, emotional and sexual abuse is rife, where corrupt officials and tradesmen do a brisk trade in supplies intended for the school, and where any boy who resists is likely to disappear ‘out back’. Stunned to find himself in this vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr King’s ringing assertion, ‘Throw us in jail, and we will still love you.’ But Elwood’s fellow inmate and new friend Turner thinks Elwood is naive and worse; the world is crooked, and the only way to survive is to emulate the cruelty and cynicism of their oppressors.

The tension between Elwood’s idealism and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision which will have decades-long repercussions.

Based on the history of a real reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped and destroyed the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative by a great American novelist whose work is essential to understanding the current reality of the United States.

Tuesday 9 September, 8pm

Queenie by Candice Carty Williams

Tuesday 8 August, 8pm

Marie by Madeleine Bourdouxhe

Tuesday 7 July, 8pm

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

James Baldwin is as well known for his powerful essays and comment as he is for his fiction and this is one of his most famous pieces of works – a seminal piece of gay fiction.

Now feels like the ideal time to read this classic love story set in 1950s Paris, to continue the conversation about black history and black writers.

One of our recent guests, Benjamin Myers, called it ‘one of the greatest love stories ever written’.

Tuesday 16 June, 8pm

Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe

Books to make us laugh – was there ever a time when they were more needed and necessary?!

Our next bookshop bookclub book is Man at the Helm, by Nina Stibbe, the first book in a trilogy featuring Lizzie Vogel and her family. Once again, we’re in the favoured position that Nina will be joining us for our discussion on Zoom.

Nina was shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for comic fiction for Man at the Helm and the follow-up novel, Paradise Lodge, before winning the prize with the most recent book in the series, Reasons to be Cheerful. So we’re going to start at the beginning and who knows – maybe some of you will stick with the Vogels for the summer and enjoy some much needed giggles and sniggering over the next few weeks and months.

Tuesday 19 May, 8pm

One Fine Day by Mollie Panter Downes

This slim but affecting novel was first published in 1946. Through a single day in the life of a woman living in an English village, it is a vivid portrait of the aftermath of war and explores themes of reconciliation to change.

Mollie wrote several novels – including the recently re-issued My Husband Simon (which Fleur loved!) – but is most famous for her wartime diaries and work as London Correspondent to the New Yorker during WWII.

As we start to imagine what life beyond lockdown could look like, and with the 75th anniversary of VE day due to be celebrated on 8th May, we think this will be a particularly interesting and timely read.

Tuesday 5 May

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Another online Bookclub meeting where the author joined in – this time Zooming in from the USA.

A Gentleman in Moscow has been read and loved by so many of the shop’s staff and customers. It’s a fantastically quirky and uplifting tale of confinement.

If you were not able to join us on the night or would like to relive the conversion do look at our video:

Tuesday 21 April

Lanny by Max Porter – with Max Porter

Max came to the shop for one of our very first author events, when we had a full house for his Grief is the Thing With Feathers, so it was lovely to have him come along again for our online Bookclub conversation about his new book.

Tuesday 7 April

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

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