The Spring 2011 Richard and Judy Book Club Titles Revealed

The BookDepository

I wasn’t a big fan of Richard and Judy’s Winter reads, but they have just revealed their Spring collection and the selection looks much more promising.

The books are:

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Hothouse Flower by Lucinda Riley

This Perfect World by Suzanne Bugler

Room by Emma Donoghue

You’re Next by Gregg Hurwitz

Trespass by Rose Tremain

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

The Blasphemer by by Nigel Farndale

I have read three of the selection:

Room by Emma Donoghue 

My favourite read in 2010. I’m delighted to see it selected, but think it is a shame that The TV Book Club and Richard and Judy have chosen to highlight the same book.

The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale 

I loved this book and am very happy to see it reach a wider audience. It is a fantastic book club choice as there is a lot to discuss. It also contains some of the best war scenes I have ever read. I highly recommend it.

Trespass by Rose Tremain 

I have loved Rose Tremain in the past, but this isn’t her best book. It is quite slow and thoughtful so don’t get it if you like your reads to be fast paced.

I have heard wonderful things about Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and The Postmistress, but I’m not sure they are for me. I worry that the word “charming” is used to describe  Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and I wonder if I’ve read too many war stories for The Postmistress to stand out. I haven”t heard of the other books on the list, but look forward to seeing what others make of them.

What do you think of the selection?

Do you think that I’d enjoy any of the other books on the list?

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  1. Verity says:

    You’re right, there are SO many war stories these days. I did enjoy Major Pettigrew but that means that you are less likely to like it! I agree that Trespasss isn’t the best Rose Tremain. I have yet to read Room, that is the one that I am most keen to read and haven’t read any of the others.

    1. Jackie says:

      Verity, It is good to know that you agree with my instincts and I hope that you enjoy Room as much as I did.

  2. Laura says:

    Jackie, I haven’t read Major Pettigrew but I agree that “charming” isn’t usually your cuppa! I’ve heard great things about The Postmistress and it’s on my wish list.

    1. Jackie says:

      Laura, I’m a bit torn over The Postmistress. So many people say it is good, but It would have to be amazing to stand out above all the others I’ve read. Perhaps I’ll have to read the first chapter and see how it goes….

      1. Laura says:

        Sounds like a great opportunity to put your resolution into effect!

  3. vivienne says:

    Major Pettigrew has been on my list for ages. Glad to see Room on that list too.

    1. Jackie says:

      Vivienne, This list is so much better than the last one. R&J are back on form :-)

  4. Amy says:

    The selection may indeed be better than last time… I hope that if you do choose to read them all you enjoy them a lot more than the last batch!

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, There is no way I’m going to read the entire list, but I might try the first few pages of a couple. I fear I may have read the best ones for my taste in books from the list already.

  5. Stephanie says:

    I have been going back and forth on whether to read Major Pettigraw. I don’t think I will, but I could always change my mind. I will be interested to hear how you like The Postmistress. It did not live up to my expectations at all.

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, You’re not selling The Postmistress very well ;-) I’ll probably read the first few pages and see how it goes, but my hopes aren’t very high.

  6. That looks like a great selection. I actually downloaded a Dutch e-book of The Blasphemer just today (it was free) so I should be reading that this year (she hopes).

    Room and Pettigrew are books I want to read, but I haven’t actually read any of the books on the list.

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, I hope that you enjoy The Blashphemer as much as I did. There is so much going on in that book that it does appear cluttered at times, but the overall concept is fantastic. Enjoy :-)

  7. I really enjoyed The Postmistress but I have not yet hit my “war story” saturation point so not sure if that has influenced my opinion! I did think it was well done!

    1. Jackie says:

      Colleen, The Postmistress does sound good, but it also sounds like several other books I’ve read before. I think I’m just going to have to try it to see for myself.

  8. Alex says:

    I’ve heard good things about The Postmistress.

    Doesn’t the cover of Hothouse Flower make you instantly think of Kate Morson’s books. It’s probably what they were going for anyway…

    1. Jackie says:

      Alex, I’m avoiding all Morton look alikes – I haven’t had a good experience with any of them. :-(

  9. Steph says:

    I can’t believe I’ve actually read four of these titles (same three as you + The Postmistress)! I thought they were all rather good (with the exception of Room, where I am the lone curmudgeonly voice), though none were favorite reads from last year. The only other title on the list I am interested in is Major Pettigrew, but then again, it’s the only other one I’ve heard of! ;)

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, It does feel nice to be able to say you’ve read several books from a list, doesn’t it?! I’m going to have to try The Postmistress now I’ve seen so many positive comments.

      I hope you enjoy Pettigrew if you decide to read it. I don’t think I’ll be getting hold of it.

  10. Annabel says:

    I’ve only read The Blasphemer which I loved out of that list. I have Major Pettigrew and Room in my TBR and would like to read Trespass.

    It strikes me that with the exception of You’re Next and Room and Trespass, the rest are a bit samey (or is it just the covers), and (apologies in advance) I can’t imagine many men wanting to read many of them – only 2/8 authors are male also. I must admit I’m not usually attracted to the Kate Morton sort of books either, so this list is rather 50/50 for me.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I agree that most of the list will appeal to women more than men. I don’t know anything about Hurwitz, but I think the rest will probably be preferred by women. Blasphemer has lots of scenes that will be enjoyed by men, but I think the overall themes of love and relationships will not appeal to them so much.

  11. Sandy says:

    I’ve got The Postmistress on my list to read for a Blog Tour in a few months. I bought it the day it came out on my Kindle, and there is has smouldered ever since. Now as far as Pettigrew…everyone but me seems to love it. I like charm, but this was just a little bit too slow and subtle for me to like it. In fact, I was praying for it to be over, so I could pick up a murder mystery and restart my heart.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, OK. If you didn’t like Pettigrew that is a good sign that I won’t either. I don’t think it is ever going to be for me as I don’t like charm at the best of times :-)

  12. Jo says:

    I have just posted about it as well!

    I have The Postmistress on my pile, it has been there for a while. Just recently book Room and Hothouse Flower.

    Major Pettigrew has always intrigued me for some reason.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, I hadn’t heard of Hothouse Flower so you’re ahead of me :-) I hope you enjoy reading their selection when you get around to it!

  13. diane says:

    such great choices. I so want to read Trespass.

    1. Jackie says:

      diane, Trespass is very slow and thoughtful. I hope you can enjoy this darker book.

  14. Anbolyn says:

    I so wanted to like The Postmistress, but I despised it and didn’t even read the last 30 pages.

    1. Jackie says:

      Anbolyn, Oh no! It must have been really frustrating to get so close to the end and then abandon it :-( I don’t think I could get that far and then not see what happens in the final pages.

  15. Karen says:

    I loved Major Pettigrew – and I would use charming as a word to describe it but I also found that it had a lot of depth to the storyand the characters. I found The Postmistress just ok – it didn’t rock my socks off but it wasn’t a bad read either.

    1. Jackie says:

      Karen, Ooohh. You are tempting me now… I love depth :-) Help! I can’t decide whether to read Pettigrew!!

  16. Dot says:

    I loved Hothouse Flower by Lucinda Riley, it’s a good list isn’t it!

    1. Jackie says:

      Dot, It is good to know you enjoyed Hothouse Flower – this list is so much better than their Winter one….but I could still improve it ;-)

  17. TERESA says:

    It does seem a bit safe and samey (war stories anyone?). I would have liked them to have been a bit more adventurous and diverse in genres. The choices haven’t been as good since the departure of Amanda Ross and I much prefer the diversity of her choices for the TV Book Club.

    Loved Room, hope lots more folk get the chance to read it courtesy of this and The TV Book Club list. I avoid Rose Tremain like the plague having had a previous miserable reading experience with Colour and this one isn’t calling to me either. I have The Blasphemer to be read very soon, This Perfect World has had many positive reviews and The Postmistress looks interesting. Nothing really standing out on the list apart from Room though – the thriller seems a bit out of place. No non-fiction this time?

    1. Jackie says:

      Teresa, I agree that Amanda Ross is so much better at selecting books – she is continuing to make brave and different choices (eg Even the Dogs!) I think R&J must be homing in on the typical R&J follower and focusing on books they will love, not challenging them to try things outside their comfort zone. They are all a bit safe, which means I will probably enjoy all of them to some extent, but wont discover anything new that I wouldn’t have come across otherwise. I’m sure that if I hadn’t been blogging I would have enjoyed them, but now I know there is so much more out there it is disappointing me a little bit :-(

  18. Beth F says:

    Major Pettigrew was on my top reads of 2010 list. I enjoyed Postmistress, but it wasn’t my all time favorite. I haven’t yet read Room.

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, More Pettigrew love…you are all going to persuade me to give it a try soon….but my head is telling me I hate charming. Decisions, decisions!!!

  19. Room was one of the titles on last year’s Booker longlist that I didn’t really like the sound of, but it’s the only one on this list that I think I’d be drawn towards.

    I wonder if they are moving away from taking any sort of risk? Previous R&J lists have been a lot more varied and interesting if memory serves.

    1. Jackie says:

      Des, When R&J were on TV Amanda Ross picked the books – she now works for the TV Book club. R&J’s books are now picked by WHSmith team and R&J themselve – they are much less varied. I think it is a real shame, but they do seem to be improving. Perhaps they’ll work out how to do it soon – or perhaps they are just targeting same type of reader?

  20. Iris says:

    I wonder if this book club is selecting too many “mainstream” titles? I know that it is probably a show aimed at a broad audience, or an audience that does not read as much as most bloggers do, but I would be more enthousiastic about this venture if they would select from a wider range of literature, and not just books from the bestseller tables. (Which I am guessing they are, since most, if not all, of these books are featured on best seller tables in the Engish section of Dutch book stores).

    1. Jackie says:

      Iris, I agree with you. More variety would be great! I’m amazed that all these books are already available in your Dutch stores. R&J are in such a powerful position that it is a shame they don’t at least pick one or two different books – if only I could help them decide!!

  21. Jenny says:

    I have the same reservations about The Postmistress. I see it on the New Books shelf every time I visit my library, and every time I nearly get it and then decide against, because I’m afraid it’ll be too much like other books I’ve read set in the same time period. I do want to read Major Pettigrew at some point, though — culture clashy stories are fun for me. :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, I had the chance to get a free copy of Postmistress from a book swap event I went to and turned it down – it keeps looking at me in the library too. I hate it when books stand out like that. I might have to read the first few chapters just so it doesn’t keep looking at me in that way ;-)

  22. Juxtabook says:

    Some of the titles look interesting but what awful cliched covers. I wish published would break out form their current rut.

    1. Jackie says:

      Juxtabooks, I agree – no awards for novel cover design on that list ;-)

  23. I have read Major Pettigrew and I think charming fits it…so does sweet. Room was a book I could not put down (the first half of it at least). It is such a unique book it is definitely worth the read.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lisa, I couldn’t put down Room either – such a wonderfully original book :-)

      Sweet and charming are words I tend to avoid in my reading – I know others love books like that, but I run a mile from them :-)

  24. Tracey says:

    Just bought The Room and The Blasphemer this morning, couldn’t get into Trespass at all, gave up after a few chapters…agree with Juxtabook about the covers, so samey, cliched and boring!

    1. Jackie says:

      Tracey, Good choices :-) I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.

      If I had started Trespass this year (since my New Year Resolution to give up on anything that isn’t amazing) then I don’t think I’d have made it very far either.

  25. Hi Chaps, I’m the author of ‘Hothouse Flower’ on the new R and J list. I see a lot of you are saying ‘avoid Kate Morton lookalikes’. Originally the book had a gorgeous, vibrant black and red cover, which my editor and I loved, but the booksellers did not give a positive response, so it was changed at the last minute. I was SO disappointed as we were trying to create something new. The old adage ‘never judge a book by it’s cover’ is true… give it a chance, girls, please!

    1. Jackie says:

      Lucinda, Thank you for commenting on my blog :-)

      I’m so sorry to hear that your vibrant cover was rejected. It is such a shame that booksellers are pushing for covers to all look so similar – I wasn’t aware that they had a say. :-(

      Good luck with your book!!

  26. Kathleen says:

    I’m familiar with most of these but You’re Next is a new one to me and it sounds like one I would enjoy. It reminds me of some of the Harlan Coben books I’ve read. They make great airplane reads.


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