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September book club - Ridley Road

(83 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 01-Sep-15 13:52:57

Winners should be receiving their copies shortly - so time to start the thread so that you can leave questions and comments about the book (of which more details HERE

LynnKnowles Mon 07-Sep-15 14:54:30

Really enjoying Ridley Road. Thank you.
I was born in the mid fifties, but had not appreciated how rife ant-semitism was in 60's Britain.
Quite a revelation.
On a lighter note am also enjoying the fashion/ beauty/ musical reminders of the early years of the swinging sixties.

Luckygirl Mon 07-Sep-15 16:18:52

Finished it. It illuminated an area of activity that I knew nothing about so was interesting from that point of view. However, the characterisation was weak and on the whole I felt it lacked depth. It was a good idea to illuminate a little-known aspect of the 60s, but I suspect that there are many other authors who could have done it better with more rounded characters and more exploration of the cultural aspects of Judaism in Britain and the morality of the actions of these groups.

nannabo Mon 07-Sep-15 16:44:18

Thank you for my copy of Ridley Road just started reading it and it looks like it's going to be a good read. Will post more comments when I have read it
Thanks again love getting books form Gransnet smile

tennisgrandma Mon 07-Sep-15 17:51:11

Read the first few chapters and thoroughly enjoying. Feeling the atmosphere!
Happy New Year to Jo and family

tennisgrandma Mon 07-Sep-15 17:56:46

Apologies - forgot to thank you Gransnet. I was very thrilled to receive the book.

SuzC Tue 08-Sep-15 12:19:38

Thank you Gransnet for my copy of this book - I managed to read it within a matter of days (sign of a good book). I love stories but love them more if I learn something from them also - I certainly did with this one. The 'buzz' of the 60's was there but the darker side of the time came as something of a shock to me. The anti-semitism relevant to today and goes to prove how often history repeats itself. Written with real strength and very thought provoking.

cde58 Wed 09-Sep-15 20:50:36

Thanks for my copy of the book. I've started reading it - and enjoying the setting as my partner is from Hackney. I'll leave a proper review when I've finished the book.

eGJ Thu 10-Sep-15 20:00:23

Have just finished Ridley Road. A serious subject, but a pity about the somewhat cardboard characterisation. However the portrayal of anti-Semitism IS portrayed well and the 60s sing out to you. I did read it all in one sitting, but will go back again to re-read the whole.

geri Thu 10-Sep-15 21:28:51

Just finished this book, I was brought up in the 60s so I love reading about this time period, I still love the fashion, the music, the hair, and the part of the storyline about going round the coffee shops which were a new thing then, and all the popular 60s culture brought it all back.
It also covers an important aspect of our recent historywhich I didnt know an awful lot about, in the resistance to the return of fascism after WW2, anti semitism, and so on. This last seems to be still with us, and so I would like to ask Jo if she had thoughts of a possible TV drama when she was writing this story. It combines real life moments of history with a traditional love story, seems like an ideal script!

alisonbossom191 Sat 12-Sep-15 11:34:38

Thanks for this book which I really enjoyed, though I did find the writing a bit awkward at times. Not enough to spoil a rattling good read, though, consumed in two or three sittings. It wasn't a subject I knew a great deal about so it was interesting to find out more, and very surprising to discover how much anti-semitism and fascism there was at the time. I found the characters mostly very believable, especially the main ones, and cared what happened to them. Plenty of action and suspense, so it wasn't clear right up to the end whether there would be a happy ending or not. Looking forward to more from Jo Bloom!

cde58 Sat 12-Sep-15 19:05:26

I've just finished the book - thanks again to GN. I agree with what several others have said - really interesting subject matter but did lack a bit of depth. There were also a few details that didn't quite fit. It also did seem to be wrapped up quite quickly at the end and all seem to be 'happy ever after' whereas we all know that, sadly, that's not the case. Overall however an interesting read.

Gagagran Sat 12-Sep-15 20:12:01

I was working in London at the time in which this book is set and I think Jo has captured the feel of "the scene" very well. It brought back a lot of memories for me especially of the coffee bars, where we used to make a coffee last for a very long time, being hard up most of the month!

She is not quite as successful with her characters in my view and they feel a bit wooden. That said, I enjoyed the book and wonder where she got her sixties background material from.

I'd like to ask Jo if she has started writing another book and if so is it set in the same period?

Wendy Sat 12-Sep-15 23:29:11

I have started reading Ridley Road. Thanks for sending it. I am enjoying it so far. It is well written and easy to read. The characters are very believable. The descriptions of London are good.

katesheilaskate Sun 13-Sep-15 09:50:35

Extremely readable book, with an interesting historical background. I was around during these years, but was unaware of this ongoing battle. Well done Jo for your background research and melding it into a page turning novel. Keep them coming.

contrarymary Sun 13-Sep-15 16:10:53

An interesting book with lots of serious historical detail. I enjoyed the part where Vivien bought a Jubbly. It made me smile as I used to love them.
I did think that the characters were not developed as well as they could have been and I didn't feel that I either knew them or really cared about them. The one part that did touch me was when Jack, in his traumatised state, met the man that he had hurt at a rally while still under cover. When Jack was finally able to release the tears that hadn't flowed until then, a tear came to my eyes.
Some of the writing seemed a little stilted but the story itself was enjoyable
so thank you GN for giving me the opportunity to read it.

Bubbe Mon 14-Sep-15 17:54:04

Am very excited to be starting to read Ridley Road.

This had caught my eye big time. As a child, my mother used to take me to a very popular (with a long queue and lots of chatter) fish stall in Ridley Road Market in the late 50s, early 60s. I am also Jewish and was aware of the anti-semitic/facist undercurrents. As my family subsequently moved to Manchester, it seemed as if this novel would have lots of connections with my own experiences.

Thank you Gransnet for sending me a copy and I will certainly share my views about it once I've read it.

shysal Mon 14-Sep-15 19:52:34

I am another for whom the book covered subject matter of which I was not aware at the time.
I would like to ask the author if she grew up amongst the events, and what made her choose to set her book in that era?

pattieb Tue 15-Sep-15 13:13:38

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, couldn't put it down. I'm not sure if I felt disappointed at the end because it had finished or because the ending seemed so abrupt as if the author had nothing else to say.
Having said that, I have recommended the book to friends and family.

nonnarosi Wed 16-Sep-15 13:16:54

Thanks for my free copy, I started to read it straight away. I had no idea that the fascist movement was still strong in the sixties, it prompted me to research this a little more. The descriptions of London are wonderful and bring back memories of my visits in the 60's. The romance was not for me, but then I'm not into romance. Overall a good read, well researched.

prefect Thu 17-Sep-15 14:25:43

I too found it a very interesting insight into a conflict I knew little about. I also enjoyed the recreation of life for the young in London at that time - I didn't come to live in the UK until my 3rd year of University in 1969, a bit after the novel's setting, and remember finding my visits to London hugely exciting.

nannabo Fri 18-Sep-15 20:52:11

I have just finished Ridley Road and thought it was a brilliant read. It kept me turning the page to see what happened to the characters. I didn't realise how bad it was for the Jewish community back then so it was an eye opener for me. Hope the next one is as good

matson Sat 19-Sep-15 17:14:46

I enjoyed Ridley Road, it to educated me on a subject I didn't know about. The novel seemed well researched and the characters easy to follow, as a debut over it was good, maybe the next one will be a little more taxing.

Pittcity Sun 20-Sep-15 12:39:25

I too knew little about the anti-Semitic factions explored in this book. I suppose that this type of group has always and still does exist and would have been a relevant subject for a journalist to research at the time.

I was more drawn in by the relationships explored than the history really. Vivien's loss of her father affected all her thoughts and actions and was one reason why she sought out the man she believed was "The One", Jack.
The fun she had with the salon girls brought just the right amount of light to what could have been quite a dark story.

This is a book that I would not have chosen for myself and am glad that Gransnet sent me a copy. I'd recommend if you are looking for a good read that is not too taxing.

Grannyjacq1 Sun 20-Sep-15 14:45:22

Senior moment - forgot I was going on holiday for 2 weeks in September! My book was waiting for me when I returned home on Wednesday, and I have nearly finished it already. Having jet lag and waking up at 4am every day feeling very alert has helped to give me some valuable reading time. Really enjoying it. It's not the sort of novel I would normally choose, and I haven't read anything by this author before, but I found that I just couldn't put it down. Will contribute my review once I've finished it completely.
Thanks for sending the book to me!

Grannyjacq1 Sun 20-Sep-15 16:29:19

Decided to use the novel as a good excuse to sit in the sunshine this afternoon and finish it.
I must admit that the period in which it was set - London in 1962 - was not at all familiar to me. I was only 10 at the time, and had no idea that there was such a strong anti-Semitic feeling, and had never heard of the 62 group. Jo Bloom certainly raised awareness of this and successfully recreated some of the culture of the period too with the record shops, fashion, hair salons, pubs and coffee bars.
I would say that this is a good novel rather than a great novel. The characterisation was a little two-dimensional at times, and their motivation lacked depth. This didn't, however, spoil my enjoyment of the novel and, once I had started reading, I found it difficult to put down. It was full of suspense and some of the descriptive details successfully evoked 1960s London; I had forgotten how much smoking went on!!
I liked the cameo portraits of the girls from the salon, and the way in which some of the other minor characters were delineated - such as Jack's parents.
Still not sure about the optimistic ending. The plot lines were tied up a little too mechanically, with the 'baddies' on trial and a wedding on the horizon for the hero and heroine. Even Barb's parents were re-united at the end, and we are made to feel that Henry won't follow in his father's footsteps.
I think this was possibly Jo Bloom's first novel. If this is so, then I look forward to seeing her develop as a writer and will certainly add future novels to my reading list.
Thank you, Gransnet, for sending me a copy of the novel and sending me on a slightly different path from that which I usually tread.