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What's On Book Club review The Quarry by Iain Banks

Welcome back to our new monthly feature, What’s On Book Club.

We know you love a good read and have teamed up with a Kent reading group to bring you a book review each month.

We’d love you to read the featured novel, too, and let us know your thoughts. Don’t hold back!

What's On Book Club
What's On Book Club

EX LIBRIS is our featured book club is Ex Libris, based in Faversham. It started in April 2004 and has 10 members, six of whom are original members, aged between 40 and 80.

Ex Libris meets once every four weeks in members’ houses and gets its books from the local library. The group co-ordinator, Rachel Holliday said: “If we have divided opinions, there are some great discussions.”

Last year Ex Libris was one of three book clubs selected to be shadow judges for the Man Booker Prize.

Ex Libris book club member Rachel Holliday
Ex Libris book club member Rachel Holliday

Read: The Quarry, by Iain Banks. The author’s final novel, which was published posthumously in 2013

Met at: The Three Mariners pub, Oare (near Faversham)

Talked about (other than the book): The new farm shop in Faversham’s West Street, butter beans, holidays in Berlin and Barcelona, the demise of hitchhiking and wood-burning stoves.

What the back of the book says: Kit doesn’t know who his mother is. What he does know, however, is that his father, Guy, is dying of cancer. Feeling his death is imminent, Guy gathers around him his oldest friends – or at least the friends with the most to lose by his death. Paul, the rising star in the Labour Party who dreads the day a tape they all made at university might come to light; Alison and Robbie, corporate bunnies whose relationship is daily more fractious; Pris and Haze, once an item, now estranged; and finally Hol, friend, mentor, former lover and the only one who seemed to care. But what will happen to Kit when Guy is gone? And why isn’t Kit’s mother in the picture? As the friends reunite for Guy’s last days, old jealousies, affairs and lies come to light as Kit watches on.

Interesting fact: Most of us knew that Iain Banks lived in Faversham for a brief time and it was while commuting from Faversham to London that he wrote and had his first book, The Wasp Factory, published.

Ex Libris book club of Faversham
Ex Libris book club of Faversham

What we said about The Quarry: The main character of Guy is not exactly likeable, but it is interesting, albeit a little uncomfortable, to read his rants about death – he’s angry that he is dying, angry at the indignity of the illness, angry at the world and all those around him. The author only found out he was dying when he was coming to the end of writing this book; however, it does appear that many of the rants seem to be Iain Banks’s own thoughts on the subject.

Hol, in contrast to Guy’s other friends, who all seem to be self-obsessed, selfish and unlikable, comes across as kind and caring, particularly in her relationship with Kit. That said, she is still flawed – she betrays Kit by spending money he has given to her for safekeeping.

There are some interesting relationships between various characters, but we also felt that there were inconsistencies. Kit, the son, is meant to be autistic, but at times he seems to be dipping in and out of his condition, which did not seem to ring true.

Verdict: On the whole, most of us did not like this book. We had assumed that the various plot lines were going to develop, for example the mystery around who Kit’s real mother is or the intrigue behind the missing video tape. However, these plot lines fizzle out to nothing and at times the book seemed to drag on.


Next month:

The Children’s Book by AS Byatt

Read along at home and let us know what you think to it!


The Children's Book by A.S Byatt
The Children's Book by A.S Byatt

There are many ways for voracious What’s On readers to get involved:

- Read along with the books we will feature each month and email us your own thoughts to whatsoneditor@thekmgroup.co.uk

- Post your comments on the books at our Facebook page, facebook.com/kmwhatson

- Alternatively, share your opinions on our Twitter profile, twitter.com/kmwhatson

- If you are in a book club or reading group who would also like to get involved in What’s On Book Club as Ex Libris have, then contact us by any of the ways above

- If you wish to join a book club but don’t know of one, then why not start your own? Let us know and we can help you put the shout out to others in your area who might like to join you and you could follow What’s On Book Club’s monthly reading list!

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