Very excited as I have been asked to join the Telegraph’s online book club. I started my journalistic career, oooh, 400 years ago, on the Peterborough column of the mighty Telegraph. The paper had just moved to Docklands but had one foot still very much in Fleet Street. My colleagues on Peterborough, although all in their twenties like me, had the sort of surnames that fall with a mighty, whooshing thud when you name-drop them, whereas I would introduce myself and everyone would seem puzzled and say, ‘sorry, who?‘ The boys looked as though they had been born in their three piece suits and one of the girls, it was rumoured, had left Oxford because her fellow students drank tea out of mugs, not cups and saucers. I thought this was probably untrue until I took a call one morning from her mother, who said, ‘darling X won’t be in today, it’s very windy.’
It was a delightful, all too brief interlude and, as I adore book clubs almost as much as I love the Telegraph, I was thrilled to say yes to reading The Dog That Came In From the Cold, the second book in the Corduroy Mansions series by Alexander McCall Smith, of No 1 Ladies Detective Agency fame. Corduroy Mansions seems like an absolute home from home for Telegraph folk (though I suppose Tweed Mansions might be even better) and I am looking forward enormously to starting The Dog and meeting the whole cast of characters. A huge part of McCall Smith’s genius seems to lie in creating these effortless worlds and populating them with people whose quirkiness is only equalled by their charm – so Telegraph it’s not true.
I can’t quite believe I’ve never written about book clubs before. I was in one for a few years in Brussels and then, as soon as I moved to the UK, I scouted around for another and found my current group. I did have the idea, over the summer, of making a little box with the book of the moment, so people could read it too, if they felt moved to. Now, though, I think we should all read The Dog That Came In From The Cold together. Let me know what you think …..