Welcome to the Chilterns Reading Group. We hope you enjoy browsing some of the books we have enjoyed over the last few years. Find out more about us in the ‘About’ section and use the ‘Contact Us’ form if you’d like to come and see what all the fuss is about. Happy reading!


When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman – 10/05/16


Sarah Winman’s bestselling, critically-acclaimed debut novel WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT continues to captivate and enchant readers.

1968. The year Paris takes to the streets. The year Martin Luther King loses his life for a dream. The year Eleanor Maud Portman is born.

Young Elly’s world is shaped by those who inhabit it: her loving but maddeningly distractible parents; a best friend who smells of chips and knows exotic words like ‘slag’; an ageing fop who tapdances his way into her home, a Shirley Bassey impersonator who trails close behind; lastly, of course, a rabbit called God. In a childhood peppered with moments both ordinary and extraordinary, Elly’s one constant is her brother Joe.

Twenty years on, Elly and Joe are fully grown and as close as they ever were. Until, that is, one bright morning when a single, earth-shattering event threatens to destroy their bond forever.

Spanning four decades and moving between suburban Essex, the wild coast of Cornwall and the streets of New York, this is a story about childhood, eccentricity, the darker side of love and sex, the pull and power of family ties, loss and life. More than anything, it’s a story about love in all its forms.

Review: To follow…

Score: TBC

  • Member’s choice: Val
  • Location: The King’s Head

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo – 14/04/15


Annawadi is a slum at the edge of Mumbai Airport, in the shadow of shining new luxury hotels. Its residents are garbage recyclers, construction workers and economic migrants, all of them living in the hope that a small part of India’s booming future will eventually be theirs. But when a crime rocks the slum community and global recession and terrorism shocks the city, tensions over religion, caste, sex, power, and economic envy begin to turn brutal. As Boo gets to know those who dwell at Mumbai’s margins, she evokes an extraordinarily vivid and vigorous group of individuals flourishing against the odds amid the complications, corruptions and gross inequalities of the new India.


Anna chose this as she felt after a popular fiction choice it would be interesting to try narrative non fiction.

Madge: Grim, shocking, awful reality that they have to buy everything when they own so little. Trapped, sad – didn’t enjoy it but glad to read it.

Alison: struck that poor people were fighting against one another rather than helping each other as part of shared experience.

Amanda’s parents have just come back from India and their experience was very different but a colleague from India had told her about the corruption. With two conflicting accounts the book was useful as the story put into perspective how prolific the corruption is.

Maureen: much the same as others’ comments. Interesting that people were sustaining themselves on rubbish

General consensus: Horrifying but glad to have read it.

Score: 8/10

  • Member’s choice: Anna
  • Location: The King’s Head

Perfect by Rachel Joyce – 09/12/14

Christmas Meal and Meeting 2014 – Merry Christmas!


Summer, 1972: In the claustrophobic heat, eleven-year-old Byron and his friend begin ‘Operation Perfect’, a hapless mission to rescue Byron’s mother from impending crisis.

Winter, present day: As frost creeps across the moor, Jim cleans tables in the local café, a solitary figure struggling with OCD. His job is a relief from the rituals that govern his nights.

Little would seem to connect them except that two seconds can change everything.
And if your world can be shattered in an instant, can time also put it right?

Review: TBC

Score: TBC

  • Member’s choice: Mary
  • Location: The Plough, Cadsden

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy – 11/11/14


Independent and spirited, Bathsheba Everdene owns the hearts of three men. Striving to win her love in different ways, their relationships with Bathsheba complicate her life in bucolic Wessex – and cast shadows over their own. With the morals and expectations of rural society weighing heavily upon her, Bathsheba experiences the torture of unrequited love and betrayal, and discovers how random acts of chance and tragedy can dramatically alter life’s course.

The first of Hardy’s novels to become a major literary success, Far from the Madding Crowd explores what it means to live and to love.

Review: TBC

Score: TBC

  • Member’s choice: Alison
  • Location: The King’s Head

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – 14/10/14


Who are you?
What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?


As Madge put it, ‘not a very thrilling thriller’ pretty much summed up the general group feeling about this novel. Many people felt that the story was far-fetched and all agreed that the police in the novel were useless, with the ending being completely far-fetched and frustrating. That said, everyone finished the book, despite it not being a short read and most said they would go and see the film.

Score: 6/10

  • Member’s choice: Hannah
  • Location: The King’s Head

Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood – 09/09/14


In the dazzling summer of 1926, Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley travel from their home in Paris to a villa in the south of France. They swim, play bridge and drink gin. But wherever they go they are accompanied by the glamorous and irrepressible Fife. Fife is Hadley’s best friend. She is also Ernest’s lover.

Hadley is the first Mrs. Hemingway, but neither she nor Fife will be the last. Over the ensuing decades, Ernest’s literary career will blaze a trail, but his marriages will be ignited by passion and deceit. Four extraordinary women will learn what it means to love the most famous writer of his generation, and each will be forced to ask herself how far she will go to remain his wife…

Luminous and intoxicating, Mrs. Hemingway portrays real lives with rare intimacy and plumbs the depths of the human heart.


The group (with only one exception), loved this book. Different members had sympathy with the different wives of Ernest Hemingway but pretty much all of us ended up googling more information about the various people once we’d finished the book. For most it was a quick read. For those who took a bit more time, the differing timelines became a little confusing.

Score: 8/10

  • Member’s choice: Wendy
  • Location: The Woolpack