Walking and Talking on Hampstead Heath : The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

Walking Book Group

This post is not a discussion or review of the book in question: Emily does that so much better than I could.

https://emilybooks.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/the-garden-of-the-finzi-continis/

Rather, I’d like to tell you about how a Walking Book Club works.

Daunt Shop

 Inside Daunt Books South End Road

You may remember that I mentioned  Daunt Books‘ Walking Book Group in a previous post. Well, at last I have managed to coincide my visit to London with a Sunday meeting of the group. Only a couple of weeks ago did I discover that the group was back in action after Emily’s baby, Vita, was born just 4 months ago.

A group of about a dozen or so keen walker-readers gathered together at the shop on Sunday 22 February to walk on Hampstead Heath to talk about the chosen book – The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani. As I’d only discovered this about a week before and as it wasn’t available from my library ordered a copy directly from Daunts. I just managed to finish reading it on the train down from Leeds. This was good as it meant that the book was fresh in my mind. Also, the evening before I had just watched the dvd version of the 1970 film.

Finzi-Continis

At 11.30 we left the shop, crossed the road and before setting off Emily introduced herself : some of the group were regular reader-walkers, some occasional and others, like me, were there for the first time. The only man was later joined by a couple more; we were delighted to have two Italian nationals amongst us who had read the book in its original and were able to offer us other insights into Italian life and culture relevant to our discussions.

Emily Left

Book talk with Emily [left]

We set off walking and talking in pairs or small groups and every ten minutes or so Emily would bring us all together to sum up, ask questions, provide answers and suggest further topics for conversation. We would then find we started discussion with someone else. The formula works very well. At the highest point of the walk, with long views over London, Emily shared her home-baked cake with us.

Highgate

Highgate from The Heath

London from Heath

View from the Heath

Somehow after about an hour we found ourselves back where we started and Emily summed up the discussion, distributed copies of the 2015 2nd Daunt Books Festival programme (there’ll be a walking book group from the Marylebone shop on 20 March) and told the group the next date and book for the regular Sunday Heath walk : 19th April “the Living Mountain” by Nan Shepherd :

“Shepherd wrote a short nonfiction book, The Living Mountain, during the 1940s. The Living Mountain is a reflection her experiences walking in the Cairngorm Mountains. Having completed it, Shepherd chose not to publish the book until 1977.” (Source)

If you’d like to hear a Walking Book Club session in progress you can listen here to Clare Balding who joined Emily on one of her walks in February two years ago.

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6 comments on “Walking and Talking on Hampstead Heath : The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

  1. emilybooks says:

    Hello Barbara, thank you so much for coming along – it was wonderful to meet you. What a lovely post, and great pics too. I hope your London visits coincide with the walking book club some other time(s) too!

  2. Emily, I was just about to send a link to you and thank you for the lovely bookish, walking morning last week but you beat me to it! I hope that now I’ll be on the mailing list and can come along again when our dates coincide. x

  3. Clare Gresham says:

    Hello, thanks for that interesting post , sounds great. I heard Clare Balding on Radio 4 doing the walking book club.
    I don’t know whether you ever need any inspiration for places to visit, but John Clare’s cottage in Helpston , Northamptonshire , makes for a fascinating visit.

    • Thank you, Clare. Helpston is definitely on my ‘list’ and has been for a long time. All inspirations welcome – but I’ve visited many places before I opened MiladysBoudoir so haven’t posted about them here.

  4. What a good idea – combine two interests – books and walking. I often enjoy walking alone – it gives me time to think. But sometimes it is good to have company and intelligent conversation.

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