There were mixed views about the format, a series of episodes without a clear beginning, middle and end. Some were hooked from the start, others compared the book unfavourably with the film. We went on to discuss the moral in the story which we could all see: that everyone deserves a second chance. The men said that as prisoners they especially related to it. And they all talked about wanting to make their lives different on release.
I saw this book on the shelves about five years ago but chose not to read it as I don’t like cats. But I’m glad the group chose it as I really enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down.
A lively discussion with some striking comparisons between Craiglockhart Hospital during the First World War and members’ own experiences in prison:
‘Fifty pages in and I knew this wasn’t for me. The last book was great but this one was too real, too much like the therapy I’m going through here. I thought it was about trench warfare, all that sort of stuff.’
‘It was because it was so much like in here that I found it fascinating.’
‘And me. I finished it just before I went to see the governor and I found it…quite moving.’
‘It did feel like the way they treat you in here. That when you are asked a question you are trying to think ahead, trying to work out what is the answer they want to hear.’
‘I didn’t get any of that. I just didn’t feel the way it was written involved me.’
‘I loved the writing. I would go back over pieces to see how she had put things together.’
‘I didn’t think it was written by a woman. She got inside a man’s way of seeing things.’
‘But do you think it is a novel, or a collection of case histories?’