Pile of books

These sets of notes, questions for discussion, and suggestions for prayer are designed for use by groups but may equally well be used by individuals. This is a resource for ArtServe members so login to see the full article. To print an article for use by your group click the PDF icon in the top right hand corner.

Maggie O'Farrell


This is a book about motherhood, memory and longing. It entwines two timelines and two sets of characters.

Lexi’s story begins in the late 1950s and spans around 20 years. Elina’s story is set around 2007, and takes place over a much shorter period (a few months). Both women are unconventional, creative and living at a distance from their birth families. Both are surprised by the intensity of their feelings when they become mothers. They will turn out to have more than this in common, though they never meet.

Kathryn Stockett


Set in Mississippi in the early 1960s, the book tells the story of black women, white women, and the ways their lives interrelate. An unlikely alliance grows up between one privileged young white woman and at first one, then two, black women.

This book has been a popular choice for reading groups since it was published in 2009, so you may have discussed it with a group already. But we hope to invite a rather different response with these notes and, in particular, with the suggestions for prayer.

Salley Vickers


The story of Agnès Morel is told in two parts, each one beginning with her being found by a man who will care for her. One cold January morning, the farmer Jean Dupère finds a baby in a basket, and nearly twenty years later the Abbé Paul finds a young woman wrapped in a greatcoat sleeping in the doorway of Chartres Cathedral.

Two periods in one life, each lasting nearly twenty years, come together as the novel progresses and Agnès’s past catches up with her.  Is the past doomed to repeat itself, or will Agnès at last find redemption and release.

J.L. Carr

Doom board

Birkin, the narrator, has been commissioned to uncover a medieval wall painting in a country church. At the same time another man, Moon, is searching for a lost grave in a nearby field. Both are war survivors.

The book opens at a railway station in the pouring rain. The narrator steps off a train and into an alien world. It ends, after a season, with the narrator setting off back home – drawing a line under the place and the time spent there, making the point from a distance of nearly sixty years that he has never been back.