Last Monday Book Group on Elmet

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Six reading groups shadowed the Man Booker Prize this year. Each group read and reviewed one of the shortlisted titles. Here, we focus on Elmet by Fiona Mozley.


Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now. Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn’t true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew…

Fiona Mozley was born in 1988 and grew up in York. She went to King’s College, Cambridge, after which she lived in Buenos Aires and London. She is studying for a PhD in medieval history, and works part-time at The Little Apple Bookshop. Elmet is her first novel.

Reading Group review

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“Our group normally meets on a Monday at the end of each month, so we turned things around and met for breakfast on a Thursday to have our discussion about Elmet. Overall the group enjoyed the book – some much more than others which evened out our score of 4/5 stars. Some of us found it very dark and brooding, others not so and we had a lengthy discussion about how easy it might be for a family to live ‘off grid’ and whether the Yorkshire setting made this easier.

We talked about the feudal nature of the story and how Daddy was almost a modern day Robin Hood – taking on the cause of the tenants against Price and his lackeys. We all enjoyed the characterisation, particularly the feisty Cathy, but would have liked to have known more about Vivienne and her back story.

We felt that the author had managed to convey a real sense of place without losing the thread of the book in too much detail, although most of us would have liked it to be longer!

We really enjoyed the opportunity to shadow the Man Booker Prize – it’s probably not a book we would necessarily have picked, but we all enjoyed the discussion."

Get involved

Read reviews of Elmet and leave your own. Find out more about the book by downloading a free Readers’ Guide and a supporting booklist featuring similar titles.

Meet all of the shadow reading groups for this year.

If your reading group would like to apply for similar opportunities in the future, please visit our Noticeboard.

You can listen to the brilliant Man Booker Prize podcast audio series on Soundcloud with Joe Haddow from Radio 2.

Keep up to date on all the latest reading group news – sign up for our free monthly e-newsletter.

Share your thoughts about the Man Booker Prize on Twitter and Instagram using #FinestFiction and #ManBooker2017.

For more information, visit the Man Booker Prize website.


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