Triple Choice Tuesday: Senior Common Room

Triple-Choice-TuesdayWelcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers and other bookish bods to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles and new bloggers.

Today’s guest is Anne from the blog Senior Common Room.

Anne lives in Birmingham, in the UK, and for most of her life has been involved in education in one form or another, although she did do a three year stint as a drama student before teaching 7-11 year olds and then moving into the university sector.

She took early retirement on health grounds five years ago and says that writing a blog is a wonderful way of keeping in touch with people when she’s not well enough to get out and about in other ways.

Without further ado, here’s Anne’s Triple Choice Tuesday selections:

NeverLetMeGo A favourite book: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is the most remarkable book I’ve ever read. As I expect most of you will know, it is about three young adults looking back over their lives and coming to realise that they have been created specifically to service the needs of others in a particularly nasty way. What is so brilliant about this book for me is the way in which Ishiguro manages to make it seem as though we shouldn’t be questioning the ethics of what has been done to these people, while at the same time using empathy to insist that we do. The situation he describes (and I’m trying very hard not to give too much away in case anyone hasn’t read it) is so horrific that I could never read the book again, but nevertheless it is the most extraordinary feat of narrative control I have ever come across.

Upper-fourth-at-malory-towers A book that changed my world: Upper Fourth at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton

I suppose it could have been any book in the series, but Upper Fourth at Malory Towers just happened to be the first one I read. I was brought up in one of Birmingham’s red light districts and my first job offer came from the local pimp. However, while I was reasonably flattered, I did turn him down because although most of my contemporaries left school at fifteen Blyton had taught me that a girl could do more with her life, she could go to university, she could have a profession, she could have a voice. The fact that I didn’t go to a posh boarding school or have a name like Darrell or Alicia or Felicity didn’t actually register. I knew what was possible and I was going to do it. I credit Blyton with my PhD.

Earth-and-Heaven A book that deserves a wider audience: Earth and Heaven by Sue Gee

This was the one that gave me the most trouble, but in the end I’ve picked Sue Gee’s Earth and Heaven as representative of a writer I think deserves a wider audience. This book is about a Slade-trained painter, Walter Cox, and his family in the aftermath of the First World War. It delineates the struggle of Cox and his friends as they attempt to create a world of beauty, one that never again will tear itself apart and damage its young in such an appalling manner. The reader’s anguish, knowing that such attempts are doomed to failure, makes this a very moving novel indeed. Gee is particularly skillful in her use of language to describe the natural world and I’m really looking forward to her new book, Last Fling, which is due out in May.

Thanks, Anne, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!

I read Never Let Me Go in 2005 and found it a frustrating read, probably because I thought it asked more questions than it answered. But I saw the film earlier in the year and found it quite a heart-rending story, much more so than the novel. I’m almost tempted to read the book again to see if it might have improved with age. As for Malory Towers, I’ve pretty much read all the Enid Blyton stuff — Famous Five, Secret Seven, Magic Faraway Tree et al — but never experienced this series. I’m not sure why. And Earth and Heaven has promptly gone onto the wish list — I do like a good Great War novel.

What do you think of Anne’s choices? Have you read any of these books?

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7 thoughts on “Triple Choice Tuesday: Senior Common Room

  1. I love that she credits Enid Blyton with her PHD! Enid Blyton is so often sneered at but she certainly got me into reading masses and masses. And I LOVE Earth and Heaven too.

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  2. I hadnt come across Senior Common Room until now Kim so thank you for highlighting a blog I have had a peek at and looks right up my street.
    Never Let Me Go is an incredible book and one that I urge everyone to read. I think I saw Sue Gee on The First Tuesday Book Group recently and was wondering what her books are like!

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  3. I really enjoyed Never Let Me Go when I read it a few years ago. However, some friends had very different views. I think it divides opinion.

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  4. Anne, how marvellous to see you on here! I will look up Earth and Heaven. A related Canadian read is Jane Urquhart’s The Stone Carvers about the creation of the monument at Vimy.

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  5. I agree 100% with Anne’s analysis of Never Let Me Go. I purchased it a few years ago at a hotel gift shop after I finished the books I had brought to get me through a vacation. I didn’t know anything about the book — only that I had liked Remains of the Day. I started it on the plane ride home and still remember the chills I got as I began to understand what was going on in the book. Anne is absolutely right that Ishiguro’s contolled narration is major part of what makes this book so good. And as I think of it, that’s part of what makes Remains of the Day so good too.

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  6. I am over the moon that Anne has picked a Mallory Towers book! That series is the only one that I have read in every decade of my life and I still never get bored of it – I love everything about Malory Towers and so wanted to be there! (I still do, although I’m about 20 years too old now!)

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  7. I couldn’t agree more about a Malory Towers book changing one’s world – although I’ve always been torn as to which one is my favourite. I read my first Malory Towers book some seventeen years ago, and I can still re-read them and enjoy them. I loved Upper Fourth, but I think my favourite might be Fifth Form At Malory Towers, as I loved the pantomime the girls put together, as well as the anonymous letters and….
    …. I think the great thing about Upper Fourth was how Darrell is asked to step down as head girl, and how everything comes together and falls apart subsequently. I really did admire Darrell back in the day, and wanted to be like her….

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