I’ve been engaged in a group reading of Jane Austen’s major works in the last six-months, as many of you already know, I guess. I was not the one who had the idea , I was invited as a JA’s lover to lead and moderate the club. The activity was suggested by one of the lady-librarians in the public library and had to be Jane Austen focused. Each month one of her major novels. I liked the idea so much when she contacted me that I immediately accepted. The ups and downs of our group are told in my journal of the meetings on My Jane Austen Book Club. The fact is that book groups have started haunting me, well, more precisely I’ve become a little obsessed. You thought I was a bit fixated with Richard Armitage? Incorrect. Not only with him. I have many interests, few obsessions and one weakness. For instance, I’m often surfing the Net to know more about book clubs so that I can read about reading groups, I’m interested in other bloggers’ ideas and impressions about "group reading". I also re-watch The Jane Austen Book Club from time to time (lovely comedy!)
While surfing the Net for some reasons of the said, I discovered the existence of this Brit TV series , shown on Channel 4 between 2001-03, and I was so curious to see it! So curious that I did it. Just the first series , though. Might this help me to improve my own group?
Channel 4 The Book Group - Sex, Drug, Football ... what about books?
Quirky comedy, six episodes and rather unknown-but-good actors and actresses (at least to me!) this series is set in Scotland, Glasgow, and turns around a group of completely different people who gather together in a Book Group: the earnest wheelchair-user Kenny; uptight depressive mother-haunted American Claire who starts the group to meet new people; football fetishist gay Rab; eccentric , intellectual but perpetual student , and drug-addicted Barney; frustrated wife of a Scottish footballer, Janice; and finally definitely shallow Fist (Dutch) and Dirka (Swedish) both married to footballers and really bored by their lives.
At the time of the airing the two series of The Book Group proved to be a favourite with critics. They also regularly drew a respectable audience of more than 2 million viewers . What was my reaction? At first ... disorientation, since these people meet to discuss a book but actually never succeed in discussing it properly, since most of the action is not based on books, since I expected something totally different . However, after that first moment of astonishment, I started liking it because it was...it was... quirk , as I said, and so different from any other series I had seen so far. I started liking the absurd situations narrated and just enjoying the odd twists reserved to the audience. The ill-assorted mix of people and their interaction was just amusing and entertaining but it also stimulated my my emotional involvement , my sympathy for that unlucky bunch of mates.
In fact, essentially it's a look at several unhappy characters, they're all unhappy, or insecure, or sexually frustrated in some way, and the combined misery of all the members of this 'book group' all seem to clash in every meeting they have. The first series all dealt with each one's attempts to hit onto each other one; Claire was in love with Barney, Kenny in love with Claire, Dirka & Fist both in love with Kenny... Don't worry, it is not only that, it is also a good character study and fun-poking at some of the most depressing and heart-breaking human emotions. It's black comedy, it makes you laugh even though there's nothing funny about it.
I've found this clip of one of the most entertaining scenes in Ututbe. The writer of the book they have decided to read this month is hidden and listening to their absurd discussion about his own novel ( he's got an affair with Janice, one of the group, the one who is holding the meeting in her luxurious home) . He can't bear the fact that they got everything wrong and ... Just have a look if you've got some time!
You can get the DVD at a very low price and have some fun if you feel like . The series is fresh and original, with black humour, very witty writing and a sense of the absurd intermixed. It's well worth a look! So distant from my period /costume film standard? You're right . So what? I myself find myself so ... unforeseeable at times!