12th Aug 2010
Guardian Book Club with Sarah Waters
Having whizzed through Fingersmith and The Little Stranger in the last fortnight, I’ve developed a new-found love for the work of Sarah Waters. So imagine how my nerdy heart fluttered when I came across the Guardian Book Club discussion of The Little Stranger last week, featuring a Q&A sesh with Waters herself.
If you’re not familiar with the format of the Guardian Book Club (or if you missed our event preview last week), then here’s the lowdown: a new novel is discussed each month via weekly columns culminating in a reader discussion. Undoubtedly the highlight is when the author is called in for a reading and Q&A session. It’s a thoroughly modern take on book clubs, and with 63 novels discussed so far, shows no sign of stopping.
I can’t review much of the event without revealing a massive spoiler or two about The Little Stranger, so I’ll keep schtum about exactly what was discussed. But hearing about Waters’ literary influences and her relationship with the characters really helped my understanding of the novel, and I left with a new appreciation of this dark and suspenseful story. It is a book club after all so expect plot points to be revealed and discussed in detail (something that annoyed a minority of the audience, which I couldn’t understand).
This surprisingly fun evening cost £9.50 per ticket, which isn’t cheap for an impoverished intern like myself. But it was a chance to see an author I was really interested in discuss a novel I enjoyed. And events like this are the perfect (and only) opportunity for asking obscure questions of the author and seeing if your long-standing theory about a particular scene or character’s name was correct.
Obviously your money would be wasted if you weren’t keen on the author or book leading the discussion. In the same way that I wouldn’t pay to see a film starring an actor I loathed, I wouldn’t go to a literary event fronted by a writer I had little interest in. But if you come across an event featuring a writer you like, then it stands to reason you’ll gain something from it.
Bummed that you missed the event? Keep an eye on the Guardian Book Club podcast page for an audio recording of the Q&A with Sarah Waters.
Post by Alex Sheppard