The Ice Cream Girls (Dorothy Koomson) and The Junior Officers’ Reading Club (Patrick Hennessey)

We had a small but very good gathering on Tuesday 30th April in our Common Room.

We discussed two books:  The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson and Patrick Hennessey’s The Junior Officers’ Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars.

Some of us had read both books and the rest of us, just one.  Those who had read The Ice Cream Girls, had, on the whole, enjoyed it and thought of it as a bit of a page-turner.  It was an easy read, despite the difficult subject matter: two girls were accused of killing a young teacher who had coerced them into having sexual relationships with him during a period of a year, when they were fifteen and sixteen years old.  Due to his persuasive nature, they believed that he was truly in love with them and complied with his demands, even when he became violent.  The book begins some seventeen years later when one of the girls has served a prison sentence for his murder and the other has been able to create a new successful life for herself (although the memories of her past and the reappearance of the other girl are destined to bring it all up again).  It’s well-written and moves at a fast pace but we did find the ending somewhat disappointing.  Read it and see if you agree!  You may have seen the recent dramatisation on ITV – read, watch, then compare!   I listened to a very interesting programme on BBC Radio 4 yesterday which featured a case of two women in very similar circumstances whereby they explain how they were indeed drawn in in this way by a favourite teacher (click here to learn more), the showing of the ITV drama is very timely.

ice-cream-girls dorothy koomson


The Junior Officers’ Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars saw Patrick Hennessey mature from a precocious Berkhamsted schoolboy to a gung-ho army officer through to a reflective young man who has seen war.  It is interesting to read of his schooldays and recognise characters in his book, mostly unnamed, which is probably a good thing!  It follows his time at Sandhurst and then onto war.  Patrick has subsequently written Kandak: Fighting with Afghans about his time in Afghanistan spent forging bonds and friendships with local soldiers.  He has visited our school twice in the last three years to speak to our Year 12 students as part of their tutorial programme and been well-received both times.  He has now left the army and is a writer and Human Rights lawyer based in London.

Poster "The camp library is yours - Read ...
Poster “The camp library is yours – Read to win the war. You will find popular books for fighting men in the recreational buildings and at other points in this camp. Free. No red tape. Open every day. Good reading will help you advance. Library War Service, American Library Association.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (Agatha Christie)

At our Reading Group meeting yesterday evening, held seasonally in a local hostelry, we discussed Agatha Christie’s novel Hercule Poirot’s Christmas.  It was another lively evening and very enjoyable, most of the group members warmed to this tale of murder mystery set during the Christmas period and it was a light-hearted book to read before we finish for the holidays.  Interestingly, our group was divided into readers who turned the pages needing to find out what was going to happen next and trying to work out ‘whodunnit’ and those who simply let the text place them in context, not worried about who was the perpetrator of the crime or how they did it.  We enjoyed the writing as a product of its time, written and published in the late 1930s, with reference to the Spanish Civil War and the threat of the impending breakout of  World War II.