UrbanCoffeeCo bookclub: A Quiet Belief in Angels RJ Ellory (review and book club questions)

This month, my book club read local author RJ Ellory’s arguably most well-known novel, A Quiet Belief in Angels. Although the meeting was last week, I haven’t yet finished. Not because I didn’t find the novel readable (I did), but more out of time, finishing one job, starting another etc…

I’ve tried to read the novel a few times and each time I’d never managed to get past the first few pages. There are a couple of reasons for this, which I think are a bit unfair. The blurb on the back was clearly written by someone who’d never read the book and along with the first page of reflection it put me off. I confess I’m one of these people that if they don’t like a book in the first few pages I put it down and read something else. There are too many books to read one you’re not going to like.

Anyway, the novel wasn’t as bad as I thought. It is far more descriptive than I like novels to be, but I happily skim-read these bits (like only a degree in English will teach you) and leisurely read the other bits. It’s very readable. Even people in Book Club that didn’t like it still read to the end. There are a lot of bits of plots that do feel were a bit frayed and a little unnecessary (I never understood the need for the Guardians, I don’t think they offered anything to the book and feel a bit like they’re there because someone insisted). But considering the book has been on my shelf for years I didn’t hate it and was quite glad I had the push to read it.

Book club questions we discussed:

The title – did it make sense/fit with the novel?
The blurb on the back.
The historical and geographical setting – did it feel authentic?
Likeability of the main character
The time Joseph spends in New York, particularly the first time.
The novel’s relevance to American literature – given it was written by an Englishman and the references to Capote, Steinback etc…
Our copies had suggested reading that mentioned On the Road and Catcher in the Rye – what people thought of this.
We’re not having one in December as it falls in the vortex between Christmas and New Years, so the next one is January. We’ll be reading HP Lovercraft’s The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. I am really looking forward to it!

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