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MARCH:Pollard by Lauren Beatty

APRIL:Wake by Anna Hope

MAY:H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

JUNE:The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker

JULY:Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

AUGUST:The Beggar & the Hare by Tuamas Kyro

SEPTEMBER:The Hundred Year House by Rebecca Makkai

OCTOBER:Cat Out of Hell by Lyn Truss

NOVEMBER:The Fly Trap by Frederik Sjoberg

DECEMBER:Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones

Our December walk and talk was primarily to discuss Sworn Virgin but of course being the final walk of 2015 we reviewed our year of reading and voted for the title that we had either enjoyed the most or that had remaind strongest in our minds.

Sworn Virgin met with a positive response from the majority of the group and many were pleased to have a book that finally flowed after previous titles that they felt had been enduring reads rather than a flowing pleasure.

The subject was an enlightening one and raised awareness of the Albanian tradition of the ‘sworn virgin’ – women who have decided not to accept arranged marriages and so to uphold the family name live out the rest of their lives as men.

This lifestyle was in no way romanticised, the life they choose, the environment and working conditions are exceptionally harsh and to be a man in the mountains you are expected to drink plenty of raki, smoke incessantly and be a crack shot with a rifle. So when Hana becomes Mark, the men respect her for these virtues that stand them apart from the women.

The discussion turned to that of transgender. Hana has not become a man because she feels that she was born into the wrong body, she is still very much a woman and yet she has chosen to deny her own sexuality, and yet when she decides to live as a woman once more, the years of living androgynously are incredibly hard to shake.

This was a moving and unusual book that shone a light onto the contratss of rural and city dwellers during the closing years of communism in Albania. Sworn Virgin is a book that the group agreed that they would all recommend.

And so to the standout titles of 2015:

Our top recommendation comes as no surprise and along with the rest of the reading nation is H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.

The Detour came a close second for its sense of suspense and wonderful atmosphere.

Another member chose Cat Out of Hell as their top read, and Sworn Virgin was another first favourite from the year’s list.

Top proof recommendation is We are all Made of Molecules by Susan Nielson, which is due out in paperback in April 2016 - so one to look out for.

I would just like to say thank you to Number Seven’s Walking Book Club members for making it another memorable year of walks and talks and wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

We shall now take a short break from our walks although I am sure there will still be plenty of reading going on – I know some of you still have proofs to digest and enjoy.

Our first meeting of 2016 will be on Saturday 12th March.

I look forward to welcoming new and regular members in the spring.

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