The Underground Railroad

“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead (U.S.)


“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead (U.S.) is set in the pre-Civil war era in the southern states of America and tells the story of a slave’s journey to freedom using the eponymous route. There were mixed reactions to this book with most readers liking it whereas some found the subject matter too hard to handle for a summer read, but felt it should be required reading in US schools. Readers who enjoyed the book found the protagonists engaging and described Cora as amazing and tenacious. They loved the fact that the slaves’ route to freedom had morphed into a literal underground railroad and they found the descriptions of the stations really vivid. Readers liked the structure of the book, from the short sections told from the point of view of one of the characters, to the longer sections detailing Cora’s journey to freedom through the different states. Overall, it left a deep impact on them.


Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North… Read more

Nicola’s Summer Reading list 2017

Distinctly historical fiction or with a clear taste of history both past and present, the four shortlisted books for this year’s Summer Reading Group were all of excellent calibre making it tough to settle on just one favourite. Our readers also noticed a recurrent theme in all four of violence and hardship and regretted that the summer books weren’t a bit more light relief. As Nicola explained, her Summer Reading Group is a continuation of her regular Book Club. Her aim is to pick books that challenge the reader to step outside their comfort zone and broaden their perspective. She hopes her selection of books will inspire readers to open their minds to another way of seeing the world and their place in it. At the end of the discussion, when it came time for voting, “The Golden Legend” was chosen by a slight margin as Best Summer Read 2017.

“The Chosen Maiden” by Eva Stachniak (Poland)
“The Golden Legend” by Nadeem Aslam (Pakistan)
“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead (U.S.)
“The Woman Next Door” by Yewande Omotoso (South Africa)

* Best Summer Read
In italics, SRG’s Coup de Cœur

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