Julia Larden

Julia for WebsiteI have been teaching adults  since 1982.   I teach both English Literature and Film Studies.  On the English Literature side I have taught numerous nineteenth and twentieth century novel courses and Poetry and Drama courses.  Other areas of interest include Shakespeare, Women Writers, Frankenstein and Pygmalion narratives.  I have been teaching a two-hour weekly course at Solihull for Warwick Open Studies: ‘Reading the Novel’ since 2006.   I have an Open University BA in Arts and Social Sciences, a BA in English,  University of Birmingham, and an MA (English and Women’s Studies) University of Lancaster.

Autumn  2019:  Last Orders by Graham Swift

This  five-week course will run for alternative weeks throughout the autumn term of 2019 from Thursday October 17th to Thursday December 12th 2019.

This novel won the Booker in 1996.  A group of old friends travel from London to Margate to scatter the ashes of another friend:  the popular Jack Dodds.   Jack, a butcher, had loved Margate and had planned to retire there, but died of cancer before he could realise his dream.  The stories of the lives of the men on the journey, plus  Jack’s wife Amy and their retarded daughter June, are told through a series of flashbacks which flit backwards and forwards over six decades and we gain insights into the characters of these people, see what bonded this little group together and begin to understand the importance of the friendships which have existed between them.  They are fulfilling both Jack’s last orders in respect of his remains and, in a nod to the long years the men spent drinking together,  planning to get in a late final round of drinks before they return home to London.

There is a review of the novel in The Independent here  This review notes that the novel would make a great film and it was indeed made into a film in 2001.

Below is a trailer for the film.

The Group

This is a friendly, well-established, study group where new faces are always welcomed.  Classes are run to a lively, tutor-led discussion based, format where, after introductions to the author and set texts, students concentrate on a set portion of the text each week and consider pre-selected extracts in order to discuss a range of questions and topics both those planned by the tutor and those introduced by themselves.

Additional Learning Resources

Students take away a set of pre-prepared student notes at the end of every session.

For registered students, there is also a course website (not visible to the general public) with a new post for every session.  Here a range of additional materials, including a summary of main points in texts, videos, where available, and  links to critical texts for further reading appear.  Some time after each session a brief summary of the session is added together with a downloadable copy of the student notes.  Student contributions to this are always welcome.


Solihull Methodist Church Centre, Blossomfield Road, Solihull, B91  1GL

Getting ThereOn a Map No matter how you plan to travel, this is a very accessible venue. The centre is next to Solihull Station), Satellite  Close-Up (The Church Centre is the long building on the right of the station).  Car drivers appreciate the fact that the centre stands in its own car park.  By Train: trains run regularly from Birmingham Snow Hill, Birmingham Moor Street,  Acocks Green, Widney Manor and Dorridge.  Check times with Chiltern Railways here.   Buses: The following numbers stop within yards of the Methodist Centre: 3, 4, 5, 6,  42, 49, 57, 57A, 71, 76, 82, 169, 966, 966A, S1, S2, S3, S4, S7, S9, S11.  For more bus info call Network West Midlands on 0871 200 22 33.

Course Fee


What Should I Buy?

Having the same version of the text as the teacher and the rest of the class is a huge help for ‘singing from the same hymn sheet reasons’.  We will be skipping around in the text a lot and precious minutes can be lost if a few people are struggling with different page numbering.   We will be using  this (click on ‘this’) edition of the novel.

Are there any other charges?

Coffee and biscuits is offered at a cost of 25p per student.  This is collected weekly.  There are no other charges.

How do I join the course?

You can pay on PayPal by clicking the button
Buy Now Button

Note: if you are given the options: ‘pay with debit or credit card you may be offered a screen for the US.  Choose the UK from the drop-down box options.

This method should be simplest for both sides, but, if you really prefer, drop me a line using the form below and I can send you an enrolment form.  You may also use this form if you have any other questions about the course.  (You don’t need to fill in the website bit!)

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