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Stilettos Book Club - Wolverhampton

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Banks Bistro

40c Bath Road

Wolverhampton

WV1 4EP

United Kingdom

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Stilettos Network would like to invite you to join us for good food, good company and a glass or two over our current read.

This month's books as chosen by the November group is "The Boy with the Top Knot by Sathnam Sanghera" and "Beauty by Raphael Selbourne"

We have made the unusual decision this time round to read two books not one, as our ladies are planning plenty of "feet up time" this christmas with a glass of Mulled Wine and a good book. Both authors were either born or lived locally, and we felt that the two books although completely different, went hand in hand. Here's a bit about them...

The Boy with the Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton is a hilarious and heart-rending reinvention of the modern British memoir.

"It's 1979, I'm three years old, and like all breakfast times during my youth it begins with Mum combingmy hair, a ritual for which I have to sit down on the second-hand, floral-patterned settee, and lean forward, like I'm presenting myself for execution."

When successful journalist and materialist Sathnam Sanghera, living the high life of Prada and loft flats, dinner parties and celebrity interviews, was 24 he discovered his father and sister were both suffering from a severe mental illness he hadn't been aware of. As he researched their conditions and how they had come to be hidden (through a lack of understanding of schizophrenia and through family guilty secrets) he started to piece together his family history and that of his parents. Each family member is memorable, from his silent father obsessed with BBC Parliament despite his lack of English; his mother- neurotic and obsessed with tradition, with finding him a wife of equal caste and culture - holding the family together; his brother with his growing obsessions with fashion icons of the times and his two sisters, funny and nasty in equal measure.

The book closes with a letter to his mother, explaining the choices he has made in life and the secret life of dating white girls and the amount of panic and depression it causes him. The book isn't all misery and family repression though. It's warm and funny - especially in the scene where he has his hair cut for the first time, a big Sikh no-no. The book moves along quickly, never boring, always painting an interesting picture of a family dealing with mental illness and a family dealing with the cultural differences of old and new, East and West.

We also have...

Poor Beauty Begum is having a pretty hard time. Married at 14 to a 45-year-old mullah in Bangladesh, she has escaped by feigning madness and finds herself, aged 20, in disgrace at her parents' home in Wolverhampton. She is bullied by her brother Faisal and nagged by her parents, all under the tyranny of Dulal, her elder brother.

Beauty is fearful of a world that seems composed of lecherous Sikhs, black pimps, and the filthy and mad English. The only place she has been to is the Jobcentre, and in order to claim benefits the illiterate Begum must attend a course at an agency called RiteSkills. RiteSkills is caught with cruel comic precision in Raphael Selbourne's novel. The co-ordinator, Colin, solemnly informs his class that he needs the information on the forms they endlessly fill in "to cascade it back up to the Jobcentre so they can interpretate it".

At RiteSkills Beauty first meets Mark Aston, a young man out of prison and smelling evilly of unwashed clothes, dogs (he breeds bull terriers), alcohol and tobacco. Mark's chief pursuits are drinking and dope, but he becomes Beauty's unlikely saviour. Beaten by her brothers and threatened with return to Bangladesh, she leaves home after hiding out in a Somali brothel, and winds up renting a room in Mark's dog-ridden house.

You can read one, both or none, its really up to you. We want to meet you anyway.

If you've never been to Book Club, or don't seem to find the time to read, Stilettos Book Club's are perfect for you. It's very relaxed and everyone is welcome (yes - men too!), even if they haven't quite managed to read the book! We try to not let the groups get too big and every time we meet there is a new friend or two to welcome, so don't be nervous. Here is the lowdown...

What is Book Club?

We are all given 4-6 weeks to read the same book. We then all come together to share our thoughts. You just have to register your attendance via the Eventbrite website and come along on the day. If you like, you can have a full three course meal, or just a bowl of soup or a coffee! Really, its whatever you fancy.

Why?

Reading is great exercise for the mind, and although we are all mega busy, reading a book forces us to take time out for ourselves. It's also a great chance to meet new people and make new friends.

Which book?

There is much head-scratching which goes into choosing the book, however, our experience of Book Club is that the books that have been enjoyed the most are the ones chosen by the group.




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Banks Bistro

40c Bath Road

Wolverhampton

WV1 4EP

United Kingdom

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