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Programme 2019

​Diane Poirier, North American literature

Diane will present the works of three modern American authors: Donna Tartt & Jonathon Franzen of the USA and Margaret Atwood of Canada. As always, your contributions are very welcome.

AGM and review of our activities in 2018, plus a short introduction to the year ahead.

After the official part of the AGM upstairs we will go down to the bar for brainstorming and quiz sessions, and wine and tapas, with a cava prize for the winning quiz team. We still have to decide the menu with the bar, but the price will be around €5 to €7 a head to include tapas, wine and the meeting fee. 

Sian Bowen presents the Mediterraneana, a sense of place in books.

On March 5th the Xabia Book Circle will be doing its own Grand Tour. There will be readings from American, Italian, English and Spanish authors whose writing has captured the essence of some of the most iconic destinations on and around the shores of the Mediterranean, ensuring that Mare Nostrum continues to cast its spell over generations of people from all over the world. 

The selection of readings is a personal one, chosen by me from a vast array of possibilities. If you have your own particular favourite you would like to contribute, please bring it along to share with us.

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

Erica's presentation centres on events of June 1944 in south-western France when an armoured German column, rushing north to the D-Day beaches, massacred hundreds of people.

She focuses on one particular village where 18 people were either gunned down or burned alive in a café. She fleshes out the stories with photographs and excerpts from interviews with survivors and placing them in the broader wartime context. 

Erica, one of our members, is a consultant translator, writer/editor and communications specialist who spent 23 years with the United Nations and was previously a travel journalist. She now divides her time between Jesús Pobre and the corner of southwestern France where the events took place.

Peter Davis will present dramatized excerpts from 20th century plays.

A reintroduction to Chaucer - Huw Griffith

Huw will lead us on a journey, a return journey for many, with Chaucer’s amazing characters through the Canterbury Tales. 

"Here", said the poet John Dryden, "is God's plenty".


It was Chaucer's Canterbury Tales he meant. A riot of brilliant short stories, vivid characters and gentle satire, all in language that isn’t as hard as you might remember. 

We will meet many people, the extraordinary Pardoner in particular, a character who might seem quite familiar...Don't be surprised if he reminds you of .... anyone.

Summer Outing to the Palace of the Counts of Cervelló, Ana.

The town’s historic-artistic heritage includes the Palace of the Counts of Cervelló, which was built in the 17th-century over the ruins of Anna Castle. It is located in the centre of the town and has recently been declared of Cultural Interest. It has undergone renovation with the aim of converting it into a Heritage Information Centre and currently hosts the Town Ethnological Museum and the Water Museum, to be joined in the near future by an Archaeological Museum. The name 'Anna' is Arabic in origin and means “water”. Visitors are able to appreciate how water has carved capricious forms into the landscape, especially in the area of l’Albufera d’Anna.

Click here to to the website for more information

Summer supper at Le Gourmand Restaurant

Once more Benjamin and his team at Le Gourmand restaurant did us proud for Summer Supper. A cava reception in the garden was followed by a delicious meal.

Alma Dorndorf introduces Mary Shelley

Mary Shelly and her circle

When Mary Shelley (1797-1851) was 18, she had a dream that would change her life.

It was during 1815, “the year without a summer”, when the eruption of Indonesian volcano Mount Tambora became the largest known volcanic eruption in history, sending the climate across Europe haywire.


On holiday beside Lake Geneva with poets Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and the physician John Polidori, Mary and the group entertained themselves indoors by reading from a book of ghost stories. Afterwards, Byron set a challenge: they would each write their own ghost stories and vote for the winner.


Shelley based hers on a dream. Byron described her story as “a wonderful work for a girl” and she decided to make it into a novel. Two years later, in 1818, it was published.


Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus,  was an instant hit.

John Lloyd, journalist, will talk about his recent book “the power and the story."

We are delighted to be welcoming renowned journalist John Lloyd to the Book Circle to talk about his recent book "The Power and The Story."

John Lloyd is one of Britain’s most experienced and perceptive journalists who has a long history with the Financial Times, as Labour Editor, Industrial Editor, East European Editor, and Moscow Bureau Chief., The author of a number of books, he is currently senior researcher at the Reuters Institute at Oxford University, which he helped to found.

So when he sets out to write a magisterial account of “the global battle for news and information”, he’s ideally equipped for the task. As Peter Preston wrote in his Guardian review of the book in 2017,
“But a free press and free broadcasting – off- or online – is not some optional extra. It is vital, but also beset by dangers; and Lloyd, with scholarship and energy, lays many of them bare. The power of the story still matters more than anything.”

As always we welcome contributions from members at the meeting.

We are hoping to be able to organise some drinks and tapas in the cafeteria afterwards, for anyone who would like to stay for an informal chat.

Click here for a recent  article from the Economist that gives some interesting background reading


Click here for a review in The Guardian.


Jane Sargent introduces Contemporary Spanish writing in translation

After nearly 40 years of dictatorship after the Civil War, censorship was abolished and democracy established. Spain's "normalisation" gave it something no other European country has: literature in four languages. Basque, Galician and Catalan, suppressed under Franco literature was again written in these languages.

Since the 1990s there has been a ‘memory boom’ with regard to the Civil War, many novelists producing their own Civil War novels. 

But this is not all they write about.

Some of the important being discussed include: Bernardo Atxaga, Manuel Rivas, Dulce Chacon, Javier Marías, Javier Cercas.

As always members are encouraged to bring their own favourite authors to add to the discussion.

Christmas supper and readings, “In the steps of Cervantes” by Christopher North

During the supper, there will be a reading of a script In the Footsteps of Cervantes, devised and directed, as always, by Christopher North

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