Our book club is a very precious thing.

Far more club than book, within the pages of our group lies a camaraderie that extends way beyond chapter or verse; the reading often done at the last minute or “cogged” from someone more conscientious.

With some of our gatherings all story and others all chat, this shared love of words has brought together a diverse circle of women.

There’s the chef who regularly offers a plate of something small and delicious, the engineer who patiently answers our snag list dilemmas, and the journalist who has all the latest gossip. The acupuncturist brings glowing crystals and a gentle calm as she sits alongside the school principal who frequently has to bite her tongue as we talk over each other.

Reading material ranges from the thin volume “translated from Spanish” which introduced us to the Camino de Santiago, putting this rite of passage firmly on our bucket lists; the boy, mole, fox and horse took our breath away with its simplicity, and we all love the occasional Maeve Binchy - a reminder of where our love of reading began.

Starting conversations

It’s a door that opens difficult conversations too. The biography recommended, by one member, about a well-known actress and her battle with cancer mirrored her own worries, whilst the hard read about Ireland’s mother and baby homes bought a deeper respect, and a feeling of absolute compassion for one of our fellow readers.

this shared love of words has brought together a diverse circle of women

There was the day we met and never turned the pages, popping champagne instead as we celebrated the first “club grandchild” and the time we sat quietly as one dear friend struggled to put into words the life-limiting diagnosis her husband had received.

Whilst our joy of fiction is the reason we come together, it is the daily chatter on the WhatsApp group that brings line after line of real stories. Worries about ageing parents or work, the adventures of adult children, and celebrations of “roundy” birthdays have built a slow and solid friendship that strengthens with every message.

When meetings became virtual, we got surprisingly used to seeing each other boxed in small squares on our computer screens, sitting neatly stacked and looking a little bit like a human library.

But one thing is for sure, whether in-person or online, whatever joy or sadness, drama or intrigue you find in the pages of the book you are reading, within our club there is love and laughter, fun and friendship and always a happy ending.

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Kate Durrant writes: Early risers

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