TBR Thursday 307 – Review-Along and The People’s Choice

Episode 307

A special edition this week, announcing the results of the Review-Along discussions and The People’s Choice Poll, so let’s dive straight in…

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Some great suggestions from Christine and Kelly provoked lots of interest and discussion – thank you, ladies!

One book quickly emerged as the front-runner and stayed that way, so it’ll be the February read. However there was another book that lots of people were interested in reading too, so I thought we could put it on for a later Review-Along. Obviously no one should feel obliged to read both, or indeed either, of the books, but anyone is welcome to join in whether you took part in the discussions or not.

For newcomers, the idea is simple – everyone will read the book in their own time and at their own pace, and we’ll all review it on the same day. For non-bloggers or anyone who doesn’t want to review the book on their own blog, you’re invited to leave your reviews/opinions in the comments section of my review on the day.

Here they are then…

Review-Along 16th February 2022

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

12 people expressed an interest in reading this one! This is relatively short – my copy has 256 pages.

The Blurb says: Go Tell It On The Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin’s first major work, a semi-autobiographical novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.

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Review-Along 20th April 2022

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame/Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo

8 people said they might join in on this one, if they could fit it in. I’ve suggested 20th April 2022, but if that date doesn’t suit anyone let me know in the comments and we can change it. The book is chunky but not quite as chunky as I’d thought – my copy comes in at 592 pages.

The Blurb says: Victor Hugo’s Romantic novel of dark passions and unrequited love.

In the vaulted Gothic towers of Notre-Dame Cathedral lives Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bellringer. Mocked and shunned for his appearance, he is pitied only by Esmerelda, a beautiful gypsy dancer to whom he becomes completely devoted. Esmerelda, however, has also attracted the attention of the sinister archdeacon Claude Frollo, and when she rejects his lecherous approaches, Frollo hatches a plot to destroy her, that only Quasimodo can prevent. Victor Hugo’s sensational, evocative novel brings life to the medieval Paris he loved, and mourns its passing in one of the greatest historical romances of the nineteenth century.

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I’m looking forward hugely to reading all the reviews of both of these books, and the books themselves, of course – hope you are too! I’ll remind of the dates nearer the time, on my regular Thursday TBR posts.

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The People’s Choice Poll

It was a close race for most of the way this time, but then one book gradually pulled ahead by a few votes, so it’ll be my January read. Regulars will know I’ve been struggling to get back to running three months ahead with these since I fell behind during my long hiatus in the middle of the year, so I’ve decided that, rather than run a separate poll for February, the second choice book will get that slot. So we have two winners, and I think they both sound as if they could be great – fingers crossed!

January Winner

The Siege of Krishnapur by JG Farrell

The Blurb says: India, 1857–the year of the Great Mutiny, when Muslim soldiers turned in bloody rebellion on their British overlords. This time of convulsion is the subject of J. G. Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur, widely considered one of the finest British novels of the last fifty years.

Farrell’s story is set in an isolated Victorian outpost on the subcontinent. Rumours of strife filter in from afar, and yet the members of the colonial community remain confident of their military and, above all, moral superiority. But when they find themselves under actual siege, the true character of their dominion–at once brutal, blundering, and wistful–is soon revealed.

The Siege of Krishnapur is a companion to Troubles, about the Easter 1916 rebellion in Ireland, and The Singapore Grip, which takes place just before World War II, as the sun begins to set upon the British Empire. Together these three novels offer an unequalled picture of the follies of empire.

Winner of the Booker Prize.

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February Winner

The Chink in the Armour by Marie Belloc Lowndes

The Blurb says: Wealthy widow Sylvia Bailey is idling around Europe when she befriends another widow, Madame Wolsky, who is a gambling addict. As they are spending their last days together in Paris, two friends decide to go to a fortune teller, but the visit leaves them anxious.

However, despite a psychic’s warning that they will find themselves in a grave danger from which at least one of them will not escape, Sylvia and Madame Wolsky decide to go to the gambling town of Lacville in order to test their fortune.

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Thanks to everyone who participated in either the Review-Along discussion or the People’s Choice Poll. You’ve made some excellent choices! 😀

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NB All blurbs and covers taken from Goodreads or Amazon UK.

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So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

49 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 307 – Review-Along and The People’s Choice

    • It’s a great mix, so my reading list is very happy! I haven’t read any Baldwin before, but I listened to his Cambridge debate on youtube and thought he was both intelligent and a wonderfully moving orator. I’m looking forward to Go Tell It on the Mountain. Is it one you’ve read?


      • No I haven’t read that one, I’ve read The Fire Next Time (2 letters, one to his nephew and one to himself) which is excellent and If Beale Street Could Talk, equally enjoyable but fiction. I’ve listened to his speech too and find him compelling, the letters give a bit if background to his oratory skills, and I think this one you’re going to read is his debut novel, also connected to the development of those skills.
        I find people like Baldwin and Nina Simone equally interesting for the choice they both made to come and live here in France, knowing a little of that feeling of freedom self exile brings.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Maybe we could tempt you to join in the Review-Along then? No pressure though! I always like to start with an author’s fiction so I don’t have preconceptions going in, so I’m glad it was a novel that got chosen, even if it is based on his own life. Yes, I came across another American writer recently who upped sticks for France – Chester Himes, also black. I guess they must have found life easier in Europe than in the US at that time. When Paul Robeson spent time in the USSR he said that it was the one place in the world where he felt that his colour was not used as a bar.


          • I’m the same, I like to read an author’s fiction first and for some authors at a certain point I may become curious about them. I had intended to continue reading his novels, but when I visited a small village ‘vide grenier’ and 1964 copy of The Fire Next Time was sitting in a box of books, you can imagine I wasn’t going to let that go.
            I’d be delighted to join in your Review-Along, thank you.
            Yes, some artists and writers chose that self exile because that wouldn’t have to witness everyday what was happening to them in the US, living elsewhere enabled them to continue to exist without that distraction, to continue to contribute their work before the situation took their sanity or their lives, they needed to express themselves openly.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Oh, good, I look forward to reading your thoughts on the book on the day! I suspect he’s an author whose non-fiction writing is as worthwhile as his fiction, perhaps more so. Some authors I feel are best known through their fiction, though – I have changed from ‘fan’ status to ‘really dislike’ status with some authors by becoming too aware of their real lives and opinions – it’s a risky business for an author to allow people too much insight sometimes! I’ve never even truly forgiven my beloved Dickens for building a wall down the middle of his bedroom as a way of letting his wife know the marriage wasn’t going too well… 😉

              Liked by 1 person

    • I think they all sound great too, so if I enjoy this one as much as I expect to then the other two will undoubtedly hit my TBR soon! I haven’t seen that documentary but I listened to his Cambridge debate in youtube and was hugely impressed by him, so I’m looking forward to reading Go Tell It on the Mountain. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, that last little child makes me laugh every time! Time is speeding by at the moment – I can’t keep up! Looking forward to both the review-alongs, both of which happen to be on my Classics Club list too.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Gosh, I’ve been out of the loop for the last week or so (welcoming a new little one into the family) and have come back just in time to see the polled results. Some great reading ahead! I’ll have to go back and catch up on the earlier discussions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. All of these sound great in different ways, and I’ve written down the two dates for reviewalongs 1 and 2, so will definitely find time to read them both over the next couple of months.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some terrific winners here, FictionFan! And I do like the idea of the read/review-along. It’s a great way to discuss books with friends from all over the world. That’s one of the things I like best about this online bookish community! They’re all great choices, too. Now, time to dive into the Baldwin to get started!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a particularly good looking bunch I must say! The review-along should be a lot of fun – it’s always interesting to see how differently everyone reacts. There’s definitely added pleasure in reading with a bunch of like-minded people, and I love getting introduced to authors from all over the world – gets me out of my insular rut occasionally! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad too – I’ve wanted to re-read The Hunchback for years and this is just the push I need to actually do it! It’s so long since I read it I have very little memory of it at all, so it’ll seem like a first read. Hurrah – glad you’re in for both! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. No more Les Mis for me – hooray! I’ll put it on my next classics list and not leave it until the end! I think I’ve read Krishnapur, but I’m interested by its companion status, Troubles and Singapore Grip sound very worth while reads, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I don’t suppose The Hunchback will be a barrel of laughs but I do feel actually calling a book Les Miserables is a bit of a hint that it’s going to be a bit dismal… 😉 I’m hoping I’ll enjoy Krishnapur enough to encourage me to read the other two. I’m always interested in colonial literature. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hurrah! Should be fun – there’s loads of people planning to join in. Haha, yes, I’ll put occasional countdown reminders on my TBR posts, and I’ve designed a new shiny logo and widget for my sidebar showing the next review-along date… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m actually surprised by how many people haven’t read it – I thought it was one of those ones that I was the only laggard! Should be fun seeing all the different views… 😀


  5. My hiatus has been for more sombre reasons than Christine’s, sadly, but here I am picking up the threads 🙂 Delighted with the Baldwin, date’s in the diary. I’m coming around to Hunchback too, now. It’s in the schedule and fingers crossed it will stay there. Can’t believe we’re thinking about reading for next April! 😲 I’m now so behind that I’m still reading books I began in September. At this rate I’ll be reading my Christmas hopefuls along with the Hugo! (Isn’t it great that so many people are joining in 😊)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry, Sandra – I hope things begin to improve for you soon, and it’s good to see you back. Ha, I do like to have long deadlines for these chunky classics – nothing I hate more than having to rush through them! I hope you can manage to fit The Hunchback in, but at least the Baldwin is shorter! I fell badly behind during my summer slump and have never properly caught up, so I’m kinda looking forward to wiping the board clean and starting afresh with next year’s books, even if some of them should have been this year’s! Loads of people for both the books! Aargh! What have we done??? 😉 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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