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12 months of Clemo Club

In terms of books, 2022 has been a fabulous year! (We’ll just ignore everything else…)

On a dark January evening Clemo Club joined together for the first time. It was nerve-wracking to meet strangers in a bar with only a book in common but they’re now firm friends and we’ve since read 12 titles together. If you’d like to join Clemo Club in 2023 you can find out more at the end of this page.

Here is a little synopsis of each Clemo Club book from 2022 and our thoughts from the meet ups too:


Burntcoat by Sarah Hall

Creativity, illness and sex – the first Clemo Club book was a bold choice. Hall’s writing was sensitive and perfect, inspired by our own lived experience of the pandemic the author, unbelievably, began writing Burntcoat on the first day of the UK lock down with pen and paper, whilst solo parenting. It follows the story of an artist with flashbacks to her unconventional childhood. Several of the book club members agreed it was the best writing they had seen in a while.


The Key in The Lock by Beth Underwood

Cornish based gothic fiction this book was like watching a Sunday night drama. The main character seemed slightly chaotic with her choices, and we agreed it seemed like the authors decision to base it in Cornwall had no real impact on the context of the book.


Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors

Clemo Club loved and hated this one. Pipped as a new Sally Rooney, Mellors’ debut novel switched point of view between a group of friends in New York, connected by a couple’s impulsive marriage. Glamorous, deceitful and full of longing the characters are all very readable. We all agreed: hated Anders, adored Santiago.


Today A Woman Went Mad in The Supermarket by Hilma Wolitzer

From the oldest author in this year’s Clemo Club canon comes a collection of essays taken from Wolitzer’s writing throughout her 50+ year career. The stories invite readers into the 20th century world of seemingly domestic bliss and hardships – that seem little unchanged for a lot of people of today. It concluded with a story about Wilma losing a loved one to COVID-19 and I wept. She seemed to speak so honestly and provokingly in this final chapter and, personally, it helped me to think of loved ones I had lost during this period. A fascinating book, with an irresistible cover too.


Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

The sensational bestseller was already picked up to be made into a film when we started reading this one. The 1960’s set debut documents the career of Elizabeth Zott, an unconventional female scientist who overcomes workplace harassment but ultimately can’t make it in the male dominated academic world during this era. When a TV show opportunity presents itself, she sees away she can teach science and empower women at home. There were mixed feelings on this one and especially the point of view of the dog!


All The Lovers In The Night by Mieko Kawakami

Like a lot of translations from Japan and South Korea members of Clemo Club felt this book followed a similar story – centred around a single female with a slightly sad narrative. It was nice to have a member present at the meet up who lived in Japan for a while and could give us some insight into what life is like there!


Briefly, A Delicious Life by Nell Stevens

We all loved this book so much! Set in a Mallorcan monastery the novel follows the story of Blanca a thirteen-year-old ghost who has been haunting the monks for centuries. When a new family move into the building, she becomes infatuated with Eliot, a writer who has moved to the monastery with her partner the famous pianist Chopan. A completely dreamy book filled with humour, sadness, empathy and delight. It was one of our favourite books of the year.


Vagabonds! By Eloghosa Osunde

A deep dive into Lagos culture this debut novel from Osunde delves into the darker side of the city’s modern culture swirling in magical realism, LGBT communities and the afterlife. We thought the author’s disjointed pace of writing within this book reflected what the Nigerian city might be like.


The Passengers by Will Ashon

This collection of anonymous interviews was collected over the phone, email, in passing conversation and even hitch hiking, during a 2-year period across the UK lockdowns. It highlighted lots of different voices however the ones that stood out were those involved in the immigration system within England – hearing these people’s stories we got a sense of how little the media reports on a human level.


Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh

Another book club favourite this tale centred around a medieval fiefdom called Lapvona. Ruled over by the mayor it is set in seasons which are governed by weather changes, ceremonies and the coming of a new son of god. Dark at the start but thoroughly enjoyable by the end. The group chat was abuzz with this one!


Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout

Another pandemic inspired book, Lucy by the Sea is from a popular series which we dipped our toes into. There were mixed emotions over Lucy, the main character, who’s flaws and mindset seemed to make more sense as the novel went on and we learned more about her childhood.


Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson

Formerly a YA writer this is the authors first adult fiction book following a cult of witches responsible for keeping HMRC and the UK safe from other worldly threats. We’re yet to meet to discuss this one so I won’t be sharing our thoughts yet…

Thank you to all the Clemo Club members for being such a joy to read with, it’s lovely to be a part of a book club full of such clever and curious people. I can’t wait to see what books 2023 will bring.

If you’re resolution is to read more books joining Clemo Club could be a fun way to make it happen – and meet some lovely book worms too! Sign up before Tuesday 3 January 2023 to receive a book to kick off the year. We’ll then meet somewhere in Newquay at the end of the month to share our thoughts. Read more on the Clemo Club page.

Jaimie x

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