Review: Ann Walmsley – The Prison Book Club

The Prison Book Club
Ann Walmsley

This non-fiction grabber reads like a fictional book. Who could imagine going into a prison in order to read literature with inmates convicted of murder, drug dealing and robbery. That’s what Ann did, somehow getting over her fear of tattooed men who might want to hurt her.

24876660I’ve never really thought about prison settings, not since my review of Peacock Blue, and of course that isn’t a Western prison. This prison is harsh, and grimy, and that’s what makes the transformation of the men within the book club surrounds more profound. They have high, intelligent thinking, despite what they might have done on the outside.

I wished I knew more, or perhaps less, about the affluent book club that Ann is part of in the outside world. I couldn’t imagine the fancy cheeses or anything else being attractive to me. Ann’s standing in the world wasn’t clear to me at all – did she have a day job? Does that actually matter?

I’ve sort of wanted to join a book club, but I think in general I read the wrong genres of novels. I’m not really a high literature or even mostly adult fiction reader. This didn’t go to prove me wrong, but maybe since I am reading more adult fantasy at the moment (Brandon Sanderson, drool), I could get into that. But then again, I have so many other good novels to read…

More could have been made of the benefits of the book club. There were some places for statistics that wouldn’t have gone astray for me. I did like how Ann followed the men outside prison after their release, and how it made her feel more comfortable in her own skin. Insights into her own life were welcome too.

I requested this novel. I was looking for something a bit more ‘meaty’ to read, and this was it. Non-fiction is not usually my thing, but this novel was really great. I’d put it on a book club reading list any day!

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