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And September's Sebastian Faulks novel is....A WEEK IN DECEMBER (discussion 8pm, Thurs 30 September)

(104 Posts)
TillyBookClub Tue 14-Sep-10 08:31:22

September's poll is now closed and we have our winner: A WEEK IN DECEMBER steamed ahead with 49 votes, putting BIRDSONG in second place with 41.

Sebastian will join us for discussion night on Thursday 30 September, kicking off at 8pm and finishing at around 9.30pm.

We also have two tickets to give away for the London theatre production of BIRDSONG - we'll pick a name out of a hat at the end of the evening.

For those that missed it, here were the choices and the September poll results.

And for anyone new to Bookclub, here is how it works.

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:05:02

to redandgreen

I chose invented names for all those things because otherwise it sounds too much like journalism. By inventing slightly exaggerated names I hope to point up how absurd the real names are. I mean when and how did it become fine to have a group called Girls on Top?

It also gave me freedom to invent things that happen rather than stick what literally happens in Big Brother or whatever.


atswimtwolengths Thu 30-Sep-10 20:05:39

My question isn't a question, really...

When I was married, my husband and his lover used to swap books, and the ones they loved the most were yours.

He and I used to read the same books, and it was when he was reading Birdsong, but with no interest in my opinion, that I realised something was up.

The thing is, I want to read them, but I can't, because they resonate with memories of that time.

What can I do? Can you help me get past this!

grandmabet Thu 30-Sep-10 20:08:29

I really would like to know why you kept bringing in the cyclist without lights but aM BEGINNING TO THINK IT HAd no significance at all!

champagnesupernova Thu 30-Sep-10 20:09:57

Don't worry about your typing, we're SO excited to have you here. grin

Do you ever give consideration to how your books work in audio format?

Dh and I loved Devil May Care which worked brilliantly in CD

You'll be pleased to hear that I had to buy TWO copies (audio first then paperback) of A week in December as it was q complicated to follow in audio format and I didn't want to run out of time to finish it before tonight. For e.g. I totally missed the lone cyclist that grandmabet refers to blush

atswimtwolengths Thu 30-Sep-10 20:11:36

Re-reads are always great, champagnesupernova.

NoahAndTheWhale Thu 30-Sep-10 20:11:40


Didn't end up getting that much reading done but I am looking forward to carrying on with the book

Am trying to decide which is my favourite of your books - probably either The Girl at the Lyon D'Or or Endleby. My question is

Where do your ideas come from? And do you have some ideas that start off but don't end up as books? And are you working on anything at the moment?

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:12:27

to yanklato:

Where do you get these names????

Re films:
I thought Cate Blanchett was wonderful as Charlotte Gray but sadly the script did not work and changed a lot of the detail and the story. It was filmed in a way like a David Lean Technicolor pic, like Zhivago, but that style did not suit the material, which is very character-based -- quite internal. There were a couple of scenes they could have filmed in that way -- when the little boys are deported to Auschwitz, but they chose to leave those out.
On the whole film people prefer not to have novelists write the screenplay. They like to keep some mystique about the whole movie business!

A stage adaptation of Birdsong has jsut opened in London at the Comedy Theatre. i recommend it. SF

TillyBookClub Thu 30-Sep-10 20:12:55

Another from me..

The style of the book feels Dickensian. But where Victorian London had hulking great factories belching smoke, or hordes of ragged orphans, 21st century London has problems that are so much more ephemeral - social networking, high finance, drugs. They are all detached from reality, rather than actually spewing filth in front of your face. Was it a challenge to describe/satirise these things that are so intangible? Did it differ wildly from your experience describing, say, The Somme, in Birdsong?

MayorNaze Thu 30-Sep-10 20:13:54

evening all, sorry i'm late, there is a blocked drain crisis in the Naze household that i am dealing with solo angry

hello Sebastian

can i just jump in and draw the mn attention to p333 (in my copy anyway), a description of Sophie grin esp the part thus:

"Having brilliant...or charming children was vital. The number also counted in your favour - four or more showed confidence, an unruly sex life and impressive organisational skills."

total mn grinwink

ok back to the literary chinwag grin

zerominuszero Thu 30-Sep-10 20:15:31

SF: If you don't mind, I'd like to ask a question about Engleby. I was wondering what your feelings towards the main character are. Personally, I find him wonderfully endearing and in fact one of my favourite literary characters of all time. And yet, almost everyone he meets in life dislikes him and, of course, he murdered a girl who was totally innocent.

What are your thoughts towards him? Did you want readers to like him? Do you think that readers like him too much?

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:16:32

to grandmabet and others

the cyclist!!

it is a fact of living in London that cyclists believe they a re immortal. They never stop at lights, they ride the wrong way up one way streets, they make mobile phone calls while zooming on the pavement (Fine: £80, though never imposed).
At first I put him in as just a detail of London life. Then I thought that maybe I could use him as a symbol. He is what in opera is called (I think; I am not an opera buff) a Leitmotif.
He is meant to show all these very different characters in different parts of the city are somehow connected.

That may not help, but that's the truth of it!

champagnesupernova Thu 30-Sep-10 20:16:58

MayorNaze - I read that Sophie passage aloud to my DH too!

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:18:10

To atswimtwolengths

This is beyond my competence!

But I wish you very well in your reading and your loving lives.


JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 30-Sep-10 20:18:44

I'm loving the book though blush am not quite finished. I worked in the City for far too many years in my youth and you've got the culture of the place and characteristics of some of my ex-colleagues spot on. They really are like that, honest. How did you research it - did you hang out in Corney and Barrow drinking champers of an evening?

tvaerialmagpiebin Thu 30-Sep-10 20:19:02

Thanks SF.
I haven't seen the film for some time, and all I really remember is the look of Cate Blanchett, so I take on board what you say.

Wish i could get to the Birdsong play - what do you think of it? how does it transfer to the stage?

And if you think our names are bad so far, you'd better hope AnyFucker doesn't roll in soon...... grin

atswimtwolengths Thu 30-Sep-10 20:19:08

Thanks! I wasn't actually expecting you to resolve it in one fell swoop!

PotKettleBlack Thu 30-Sep-10 20:20:04

hello again. I have another question, of a more general nature. I sometimes manage to hear you on Radio 4 (the literary quiz programme). It always sounds like you're all having fun - is it enjoyable? Would you like to do more radio and TV?

NoahAndTheWhale Thu 30-Sep-10 20:20:43

I found the film version of Charlotte Gray frustrating, having read the book first as the book was much better I thought. Had I watched the film first then I probably would have been content.

grandmabet Thu 30-Sep-10 20:21:35

Hi Sebastian

Thanks for your reply. I did think you were probablt having a go at London cyclists but hadn't cottoned on to the drawing together of the characters - very clever!

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:21:47

Dear champagne supernova

Wow, these names!

I have not heard all the audios tho I listened to Charlotte Gray this summer and thought it v good. i did one myself, on Green Dolphin Street. I got a v sore throat. I found it a bit annoying when the director broke in and said, 'No, no, Mary wouldn't take that tone here. She's be much more hopeful. Onc e more, please . From the top.'

But I invented the wretched woman!

I am enjoying talking to you all, though my dinner is probably burning.
Still it often is. WE call it 'house style'...


MayorNaze Thu 30-Sep-10 20:21:50

i really liked the relationship between Gabriel and Jenni - kinda sorta a bit like Educating Rita...sort of...

I have to confess that other than A Week...I have not read any other of your books, Sebastian - I did think, however, that your style reminds me a little of David Lodge - have you read any of/do you like his work?

MayorNaze Thu 30-Sep-10 20:24:27

Also Finn's descent into psychosis was brilliant - if all these silly teenagers who think that a "bit of weed" is cool and harmless could be made to read that I bet it would make them stop and think a wee while...

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:25:48

To Potkettleblack

Yes the quiz The Write Stuff is great fun. I especially enjoy winding up my dear friend and lethal opponent John Walsh.
We are recording a new series right now and ti will start again soon.

I have spent last year making a four part TV series for BBC2 called Faulks on Fiction, It's about famous characters in novels and it should be shown in Feb 2011.

I am not really a TV person. I look a bit like a frightened rabbit. But it made me admire the Dimblebys and Paxmans of the world a a great deal.


SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:26:53

To Mayornaze

Not sure I understand all your emoticons but think you liked it.
If not, please don;t burst my bubble now.... S

yUMMYmUMMYb Thu 30-Sep-10 20:27:03

Sebastian, thanks for answering my question. I had always considered bankers held some sort of mystique - now i know that they all just gamble our cash away...
I have infact finished the book and loved it. Thank you mumsnet for introducing me to such a great author, i am ashamed to say i have not read any of your other work.

The cyclist - i found this hugely symbolic and was a great thread running throughout.

John Veals - what a character. It really made me think about my own priorities in life and how he barely noticed his son.

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