Wednesday, 21 December 2016

"The Black Madonna of Derby" by Joanna Czechowska - November 2016

The group agreed that this book could have been better written. However it does deal with important issues such as identity and belonging which is still very relevant today in these days of globalisation and shifting cultures. The book does shine a spotlight on life in the 1960's which was a time of great excitement and cultural awakening with the emergence of musical bands like the Beatles and Rolling Stones. There are some amusing references to these bands as Wanda waits outside Paul McCartney's house in St John's Wood just to catch sight of him when he arrives home.

There is the unfair education system of the secondary modern and grammar school which selected children at the age of 11 and caused emotional damage to some children who failed to obtain a grammar school place at that time. This featured in this book and also the bullying that happened in schools. There are some amusing anecdotes as the naive Northerner Wanda accidentally plunges the sophisticated trendy London gathering into darkness throwing satire on the pompous sophistication of the in-crowd. There are allusions to the north, south divide as people from the provinces were discriminated against and marginalised because of their accents.

This book was very readable with short chapters but it cannot be considered to be great literature.
By Lydia

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