Whitley Bay Book Group: The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill

We were a slightly smaller group than usual this month, and I’m not sure if the less-literary-than-normal title put people off, or t’was the lure of the summer sun, now that it’s finally arrived.

Nonetheless, The Woodcutter proved an enjoyable and fairly popular read, with star ratings ranging from 2 to 4 out of 5, arriving at an average of 3.1.  Beware of vague spoilers below.

Amongst the elements we liked about it were: that it was an engaging read; the depiction of the Cumbrian landscape; the characters of Wolf and Elf, and their developing relationship; Elf’s self-analysis; the humour; the clever plotting and slow revelation of the truth; seeing how power worked at the upper levels of society; and the many fairytale elements and references.

Some of the criticisms inevitably contradict the compliments: some disliked Elf, finding her narcissistic and egotistical; there were several plot holes, and for some members there were too many sub-plots, which tended to veer into Bond-esque territory, diminishing the power of the main story; a lack of belief in Wolf and Imogen’s relationship; and the denouement, which many found rushed, melodramatic and unsatisfactory.

We also voted on the latest selection of suggested titles, and now have a list that takes us into next year – full details on the bar on the right.  We break now for the summer, and meet again on 14 Sept, when we’re back in our more usual literary territory with our first Zadie Smith title, On Beauty.

See you in September!