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Past events

 Click on the relevant small image to go to the presentation. Text links, where shown, are also live.  

The Chakrata Incident.jpg
The Chakrata Incident.jpg
August 2022
Special event


Neville Sarony, an author and QC who divides his time between Xàbia and Hong Kong, spoke to the Book Circle in August on his latest work, The Chakrata Incident, the third in his Max Devlin series of adventure thrillers set in and around the Himalayas. Neville, who served with the Gurkhas, spent many years in Nepal and has long had “a love affair with the country and its people”. The series builds on his impressive knowledge of the region’s people, languages, customs, geography and politics, some of which is also reflected in his two volumes of memoirs.

         Neville’s presentation prompted numerous questions. Was Max Devlin his alter ego? Without answering directly, he said he was lucky in that he had many rich experiences on which to draw in his writing, and admonished the audience not to start writing until they could aptly reflect their life in their work. Plots are also driven forward by reality, logic and characters, who can “take on a life of their own once the story is moving”. 

          Other central characters for Neville are the Himalayas themselves. “When I first saw Annapurna, I stopped, got out of the car, and let the mountain talk to me”, he said. “The sherpas believe that each mountain is a living thing. They leave piles of stones behind them, because mountains can kill”.

           Asked how he manages his time as an active QC (as well as jazz pianist and cook), Neville said he gives priority to his legal work and then writes when he can. He is currently working on a book of anecdotes about his years in the courts. As to practising law in Hong Kong now that it is under complete Chinese control, he said the Chinese have introduced a National Security Law that “criminalizes anything they want to criminalize”. That may eventually include the Hong Kong Bar itself, should it not toe the line. 

           Neville is also concerned about British politicians’ interference in Hong Kong legal matters, and about the effect of Chinese rule on freedom of expression. “Many young people see no future there, and are leaving”, he mourns.

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June 2022
Summer Outing

Book Circle members enjoyed an informative and entertaining Summer Outing on 7 June to the gladiators exhibition at Alicante’s archaeological museum, followed by a tasty Lebanese repast at the Mundial Restaurant in Orxeta. The colourful show about the world of gladiators in ancient Rome (at the heyday of the sport in the 1st century AD, there were 230 amphitheatres scattered throughout the empire) combines a well-curated collection of artefacts in stone, metal, and fresco with audiovisual re-enactments and replicas of gladiators in action. It looks at who the gladiators were – slaves, fortune-hunters and even women – how, as valuable investments, they were trained, fed and their wounds cared for, and how they have been depicted onscreen. The exhibition, with clear, concise captions, is quite child-friendly but will please historically inclined adults as well.

It runs through 16 October 2022.

May 2022
Huw Griffith, Jean Hilder and Christopher North  on
Ancient and Modern

(or ‘Twice-Told Tales’)

Huw began his talk by explaining that Chaucer's work consisted of a prologue about each of his 29 characters, followed by their tale. His Pilgrims, of whom only three were women, were grouped according to their jobs, and the best known of all is the Wife of Bath. Her experiences of her numerous husbands and her views on the workings of marriage in general make her prologue longer than her tale itself, which Huw then proceeded to summarise.

Jean described Karen Brooks's book novel, The Good Wife of Bath, as a re-creation of the relationship between Chaucer and the Wife of Bath, the whole retold from a feminist point of view.

After this, Christopher continued the theme of Tales Retold by reading Elizabeth Bishop's poem 'Crusoe in England', in which Crusoe recalls his time as a castaway.

Further contributions on the theme were made by Alma, Tim and Alison.

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April 2022
Duncan Campbell on
Crime and the News

Click here to go to photo page

We’ll All Be Murdered in Our Beds: the Shocking History of Crime Reporting in Britain is a colourful history of crime reporting since 1700 by bestselling author Duncan Campbell. For our April presentation, Duncan – former crime correspondent for The Guardian – talked, and amused us, about the new edition (2021), which discloses new threats to reporting. Duncan also discussed his new edition (2019) of Underworld: the definitive history of Britain’s organised crime. 

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March 2022
Local author Hugh Robertson introduced us to his trilogy The Fools' Crowns

Based on the lives of Edward, Duke of Windsor, and Wallis Simpson. Hugh explained the difficulties involved in researching, writing and subsequently self-publishing works on such a fascinating subject about which much has already been written. He also touched on the similarities and differences between the situation of his subjects then and that of Harry and Meghan today.

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February 2022
AGM, Review of the year 
and best reads of 2021 

Huw reminded us of our literary journey in 2021 with slide show prepared by Rod Davis, wth a financial review by Tim Upton. The rest of the evening was then open to members who talked through their favourite books of the year. 

January 2022
Ancient Rome

Prsentation by Sam Laird

Sam began with some background on Roman history, but the main focus was on the 1st Century BC and material written by and about Romans. He also posed the question, "Does the Ancient Romans’ sad transition from democracy to autocracy have anything to teach us today?"

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December 2021
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

ABook Circle members were delighted on 14th December to (re)discover the alluring streets of Old Benissa, where Samuel Taylor Coleridge was honoured in a lively literary reading of ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, organized by Christopher North.

November 2021
Racism in fiction

An open meeting with 5-minute intros from Huw Grifith, Alma Dorndorf, Tim Upton, Jean Hilder and Rod Davis. Members were welcome to bring their own contributions - any fiction with a racist element.

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October 2021

Results of the Xabia Book Circle memoir competition

Judgements and comments by Christopher North, plus the reading of the winning entry

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September 2021

Unusual books about Spain

Presented by Christopher North

Launching our fall season on Tuesday 7 September, member Christopher North presented some of his favourite unusual books about Spain.

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July 2021

Summer supper at Le Gourmand

The Summer Supper was enjoyed as usual by members and non-members.

June 2021

Memoirs: An introducion to the  new XBC writing competition

Presented by Christopher North

Memoir could be thought of as the lighter version of Autobiography - a fragment in your life.  Christopher talked about the various forms of memoir writing and storytelling, making recommendations of all the many forms, and explained what the judges will be looking for. 

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May 2021

Crime fiction and an introduction to the Peter May Trilogy

Presented by Terry Gifford

To what extent does May suggest that these storm-swept conditions have shaped the characters and culture of the islanders themselves? In October 2020, Terry Gifford undertook an investigation into this question on Lewis and Harris. This is his illustrated report. 

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April 2021

The pen and the pandemic:

How to survive lockdown in half a dozen books. Presented by Alma Dorndorf.

There’s nothing like a heart-warming, escapist novel to keep your mind off the coronavirus crisis. Fiction cannot cure illness or predict the future, but it certainly helped us survive a lockdown.  My friends and I chose six books which delighted, intrigued, amused and transported us and which we enjoyed sharing with you.

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March 2021
The World of ...
Presented by Peter Davies.

There are some writers whose name can fit into the phrase "The World of ..." and everyone will know what that means. 

Peter talked about a couple of authors who write about real or imagined worlds in ways that make readers know them and desire to return to them again and again, focusing on Iris Murdoch and Graham Greene.

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February 2021
Annual General Meeting

The AGM was followed by a review of events in the past year, presented by Huw Griffith on Zoom. 

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January 2021
Books that got us through 2020

Books that inspired, intrigued or amused members as lockdown forced its way into our lives.

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December 2020
Wordsworth, Keats, Clare and the Nightingale: 
An Entertainment

Devised and narrated by Christopher North with readings by

XBC members

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November 2020
The Short Story in Fiction

Christopher North and novelist J David Simons explored the pleasures of the short story in fiction and also launched the Book Circle’s 2020 short story competition.

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October 2020
Migrants and Literature

Jean Hilder talked about what it is to be a migrant, as discussed in four books written by a Bosnian, a Kurd, an Iranian and an Indian. 

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September 2020
Summer Reading

We welcomed members to our first virtual meeting!

June 2020
An Introduction to Dorothy Dunnett

Sam Laird introduced us to Dorothy Dunnett, OBE, born in Dunfermline, 1923-2001.  She is best known for The House of Niccoló and The Lymond Chronicles.

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May 2020
The Poems of Pablo Neruda

We celebrated his work with bilingual readings by Julie Christie and Lalie Abad, accompanied by details drawn from his fascinating life.

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April 2020
Pastoral and Georgic Influences in Literature

Terry Gifford  discussed the relationship between Georgic and Pastoral, from the Ancient Greeks to contemporary literature.

March 2020
Books and Climate Change

Christopher North introduced "Books and Climate Change" - a miscellany of books and writers concerned with climate change.

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February 2020
Annual General Meeting

TheAnnual General Meeting was followed by a presentation on the Siege of Troy, given by Huw Griffiths.

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January 2020
The Great Italian Detective

Sian Bowen took a look at the work of four authors who have each given us a great Italian detective.

December 2019
Christmas supper 

This holiday entertainment comprised a reading of "In the Footsteps of Cervantes", devised and directed, as always, by Cchristopher North.

April 2019
War Stories 

Erica Meltzer presented "War stories: an oral history of World War II in France".

December 2019 (review of year)
Events of 2018 

Huw reminded us of all the events of 2018.

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