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November book club - Bitter by Francesca Jakobi

(57 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 05-Nov-18 11:27:29

Winners of our free copies of Bitter (more info HERE should be receiving their copies any time.

A reminder that if you do get one you will need to leave your thoughts and questions for Francesca on this thread...we usually say by the end of the month but we can run this a little longer this time round, so first week of December is fine.

Pittcity Tue 13-Nov-18 11:40:25

Has anyone received a November book yet?

Mapleleaf Tue 13-Nov-18 19:57:18

No, but I'm assuming I haven't been successful this month?
Perhaps the lucky winners will be receiving their copies in the next few days.

Maggiemaybe Tue 13-Nov-18 20:08:01

I haven’t had one for a while now, so I’m pleased to see there’s still a chance of getting this one. smile

Greenfinch Wed 14-Nov-18 12:40:47

I have just received my copy of the book which looks like a good read.I shall start it today. Thanks Gransnet.

Maggiemaybe Wed 14-Nov-18 13:17:37

Mine's arrived too, hurrah! Thank you, GNHQ.

gillyknits Wed 14-Nov-18 13:56:14

Thank you GNHQ for my copy of the book. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Miriam Wed 14-Nov-18 14:00:28

Thank you, my copy of Bitter arrived today, I will start it tomorrow as nearly finished my current book. Looking forward to reading it.

joannapiano Wed 14-Nov-18 14:25:11

Thank you for my copy. Will start reading tonight.

Pittcity Wed 14-Nov-18 15:05:33

My question worked then. Mine has arrived too grin

knickas63 Wed 14-Nov-18 15:08:06

My copy has just arrived! Thrilled! I never win anything! Thank you.

cornergran Wed 14-Nov-18 17:17:56

Thank you GN. My copy arrived today. Looking forward to a quiet read.

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 14-Nov-18 17:22:00

Oh good! Look forward to hearing what you think - and any questions for Francesca

callgirl1 Thu 15-Nov-18 00:10:38

Mine arrived this morning, will be starting it as soon as I finish my current book, thank you.

mbody Thu 15-Nov-18 15:40:17

Read the book in almost one sitting. It’s fast paced, well written and it held my interest to the end. Very thought provoking too.

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 19-Nov-18 14:05:36

Glad you enjoyed mbody - do add any questions here too (that bit is for anyone with a copy!)

sangie Mon 19-Nov-18 14:09:13

I absolutely loved this book. My feelings about Gertie changed so much as the events became more clear. I think it is a wonderful portrait of the period and of how women were viewed and treated. My question for Francesca is this, I saw somewhere, possibly on social media, that the idea for the book came from your own grandmother and would like to know more about this please?

gillyknits Mon 19-Nov-18 14:33:40

Loved this book. To start with Gilda seems like a really unpleasant and interfering mother, but as the story goes on you start to feel that there is a good reason why she is so embittered and by the end you feel total sympathy for what she has endured in her life. Great characterisation and a true picture of the war and post war years and attitudes to women.

callgirl1 Mon 19-Nov-18 17:22:15

At first I didn`t think I was going to like the book. I felt such utter dislike for Gilda, but then the dislike gradually changed, firstly to impatience, then to sympathy. I ended up enjoying it immensely, thank you GN.

blanca12 Tue 20-Nov-18 01:38:43

Message deleted by Gransnet for breaking our forum guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

GeminiJen Wed 21-Nov-18 20:46:44

Thanks GN and Francesca Jakobi. Another excellent debut novel flowers
I read this in two sittings. Its short chapters made it a pacey read. That said, I’ve taken a few days to let it all settle. For Bitter is a powerful, thought provoking read, sharply observed, definitely a book to linger over.
For me, one of the real strengths of this novel is the way in which Jakobi uses the first person narrative to present a profoundly moving, melancholic, perceptive and complex psychological portrait of the self destructive, lonely and dysfunctional Gilda. Through her own distinctive voice, Gilda is exposed initially as brittle, insensitive, snobbish and judgemental at times, with only one friend. As the narrative unfolds however, and the author reveals the pain and horrors lurking in Gilda's personal history, we see her vulnerability and experience a shift towards a more empathetic response. I love character complexity of this kind. Despite Gilda’s dangerous obsession with Reuben and Alice, she is entirely redeemed by her completely selfless act towards the end. It is this, and the humanity and compassion in Alice, with her ability to see beyond the brittle and unsettling facade Gilda presents to the world, which ultimately offers hope.
This is a moving and subtle novel. I loved it and look forward to reading more from Francesca Jakobi.
My questions for the author were largely answered in the In Conversation section at the end, especially the issue of the unlikeable protagonist. Thanks for this section. You mention that you’re currently writing a second novel, also with a strong central character. Can you tell us more?

oldbatty Wed 21-Nov-18 20:48:29

I loved this book so much.

Grannyknot Thu 22-Nov-18 18:15:20


I loved this book, I can't remember when last I enjoyed reading a book so much. Thanks Gransnet and thanks Francesca Jakobi.

I liked the succinct, concise chapters, perfect for reading in short bursts.

I didn't really like Gilda, not at first and not in the end. But I could accept why she behaved like she did.

Re GeminiJen's observation - I didn't interpret Gilda's final act as being selfless, because she sends a photograph with her in it and writes "Consider it a symbol of our mutual understanding" - in other words (I thought), I won't say anything about your letter as long as I see this photograph up the next time I visit your house. Please could the author clarify?

silverdragon Fri 23-Nov-18 20:31:16

Thanks for sending a copy. I really enjoyed this. Short chapters are not something I normally like but in Bitter they were perfect. I thought the characterisation was superb, and as we learnt more of Gilda's background we come to understand and certainly sympathise with her. The only thing I didn't quite get was why there was no reaction when she tidied the bed in her son's house. I was waiting, anticipating the son & d-in-law talking about mysterious intruders. As a first novel it really hit the mark, and I look forward to more from Jakobi.

Miriam Sun 25-Nov-18 16:27:51

Bitter was such an enjoyable read, it was hard to put it down and with the short chapters I kept wanting to read on. At first Gilda did not come over as a particularly nice person but as the story progressed a lot of it was to do with her upbringing and her immaturity. Once we found out about her misunderstanding I really wanted Reuben to warm to her but understand how much damage was done after all those years. The book also captured the flavour of the times perfectly - I was there!

I would like to ask Francesca Jakobi if she has children of her own and how would she react if there was a rift due to a misunderstanding.

I look forward to more from this writer.