Book Club Guide

A great subject for discussions, our books are being referred by the readers as those “that will make you see the world differently”. We are pleased to share this experience with you and bring our most interesting titles up for your book club discussion. 

White Shanghai by Elvira Baryakina

White Shanghai. A Novel of the Roaring Twenties in China by Elvira Baryakina

The bestselling historical Russian novel White Shanghai that tells the story of love, money and power, set against the ideological clashes of communism, nationalism and colonialism of 1920’s China.

Based on numerous memoirs of British, American, Russian, Chinese and other nationals, it recreates the historical period from several viewpoints.

Elvira Baryakina’s novel depicts a multinational cast of exotic characters against the backdrop of the early XXth century’s turbulence and fervour that is the period of history which changed the world forever. More...

  • Why did the whites consider the Chinese the second-class citizens? Why did the Chinese thought of the whites as barbarians?  
  • Russian men and women were not on equal terms when they arrived in Shanghai. A young, attractive and single girl had much more chances of success. Why so?  


The Time of Women by Elena Chizhova

The Time of Women by Elena Chizhova

The story of three old women who take in a young factory worker, Antonina, and her daughter, Susannah, The Time of Women has plenty to offer your reading group. Set during the mid-20th century in Soviet Russia, the three older women Yevdokia, Glikeria and Ariadna impart to Susannah the history of her country as they experienced it: from before the Russian Revolution, to the early days of the Soviet Union, to the siege of Leningrad and the starvation of World War II.

Realising Susannah is mute, they hide her from the authorities fearing that she will be taken from her family and sent to an institution. When Antonina falls desperately ill, the ‘grannies’ are faced with the reality of losing the little girl they love – unless a stepfather can be found before it is too late. More... 

  • How would you describe the different personalities of Glikeria, Yevdokia and Ariadna? How do the memories they share show us their different backgrounds and life stories?  
  • Why do you think the ‘grannies’ wanted to look after Susannah? What kind of approach do they have to bringing her up?...  

Hardly Ever Otherwise by Maria Matios

Hardly Ever Otherwise by Maria Matios

Maria Matios’s dramatic family saga, Hardly Ever Otherwise, narrates the story of several western Ukrainian families during the last decades of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and expands upon the idea that “it isn’t time that is important, but the human condition in time.”

In Matios’s multi-tiered plot, the grand passions of ordinary people are illuminated under the caliginous light of an ethereal mysticism, and digressions on love, envy, transgression, and atonement are woven into the story. Each character in this outstanding drama has an irrefutable alibi, a unique truth, and a private conflict with honor and duty. Her characters do not always act in accordance with logic and written-law, as the laws of honor clash with the laws of the heart. And this is why it is hardly ever otherwise. More...

  • Family is a central theme of the book. What do family ties mean to the characters?  
  • What did you think about the structure of the book, where the author uses three different short stories which intertwine to show us an ever-growing picture of events?  

The Lost Button

The Lost Button by Irene Rozdobudko

The taut psychological thriller The Lost Button keeps the reader transfixed. The novel encompasses an entire era from the mid-70s of the previous century till the modern day with its geography stretching over the European region including Kiev, the Ukraine’s periphery, Russia and Montenegro, and at last the United States.

It explores evergreen concepts of love, devotion, and betrayal and emphasizes the idea that whenever and wherever one lives, a tiny detail like a lost button has the power to set off a chain of events that would lead to either one’s greatest happiness or one’s greatest tragedy.

It is about not looking back, but always valuing what you have – today and forever. More...

  • What does the book tell us about coming of age and the changes that happen from adolescence into adulthood? How does Denys/Dan change through the book?  
  • What do you think about the character of Liza? Do you think she was justified in her behaviour?  
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Catalogue 2019

Catalogue 2019