This month the local WI Reading Group had read "After you'd gone" by Maggie O'Farrell. Although this was the author's first novel we had collectively read her later titles beforehand and enjoyed them, so we felt fairly safe ordering another from the County Library collection. Three readers didn't get on with this one at all but the majority were appreciative. There was a wide discussion on the issues raised by the story eg the stresses that can arise in a marriage between a man from a strict Jewish family and a girl brought up as a loosely committed Christian.We admired the structure of the book from its absolutely gripping prologue right through to its slightly ambiguous conclusion. The switches between the stories of the 3 generations of women meant that one had to concentrate properly so as not to become confused which irritated some readers. The sympathetic treatment of intense grief was wonderfully well done and very moving to read. There were some amusing situations described during the inter-action of the lovers caused usually by Alice's volatile and spontaneous character. Well worth reading.One by-product of reading this novel is that we all now know what an axolotl is even if we are sure we have missed the hidden significance of its presence in the book.
Today there was a slightly smaller attendance at the craft group because of halfterm in the schools. Members showed off their Christmas decorations made during the last fortnight. We are hoping that one of our number will teach us next time how to create a really attractive fluted bell. If we all use the same two materials we can save money by one person doing the buying in advance. We also listened to the account of our three "tutors" who led a day school at a neighbouring WI at the weekend. Judging by the photos of the padded boxes produced, it seems to have been very successful. The instructors returned home absolutely exhausted even though they had done an enormous amount of preparation beforehand so that the students would be able to complete a box in the time available.
Three of us drove down to Stuart Lodge, High Wycombe to share in the Open Day. Most of the Trustees were in attendance and there were organised tours of the building which were appreciated by the new members who were visiting the headquarters for the first time. The WI shop was open and the new practice of selling craftmaking equipment seems to be a welcome idea. Certainly we were soon burrowing among the materials on offer and eagerly falling upon just the bit of red or just the little oddment of embroidery thread which had been sought elsewhere---and the prices were amazingly cheap. The shop is open more often now and the times advertised in the Bucks Newsletter so keep a look out. I'm not sure whether coffees are always available but if you have come a long way...Well worth a visit.