Hear Us Out Book Group

We are delighted to be involved in the launch of New Writing South’s brand-new LGBTQ+ online book group this week. The Hear Us Out Book Group is part of New Writing South’s Hear Us Out project, an online programme celebrating older LGBTQ+ people’s real-life stories. The group has been created so that LGBTQ+ members of the community can meet up, connect with others and find peer support, through a shared love of reading.

The aim of the new book group is to continue Hear Us Out’s legacy, by providing a space where LGBTQ+ people can make new friends and connections, by discussing LGBTQ+ literature and stories.

The book group will begin with free monthly meet-ups via Zoom. The second get-together event, where members will discuss  Amy Bloom’s White Houses, will be held at 6pm on Friday 23 April is open to everyone. All you have to do is read the book.  New Writing South has a limited number of free copies of White Houses to give to those who cannot afford to buy their own, this includes audio and Kindle options. If required, please request a free copy when registering your interest. 

In 1933, President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt took up residence in the White House. With them went the celebrated journalist Lorena Hickok – Hick to friends – a straight-talking reporter from South Dakota, whose passionate relationship with the idealistic, patrician First Lady would shape the rest of their lives.

Told by the indomitable Hick, White Houses is the story of Eleanor and Hick’s hidden love, and of Hick’s unlikely journey from her dirt-poor childhood to the centre of privilege and power. Filled with fascinating back-room politics, the secrets and scandals of the era, and exploring the potency of enduring love, it is an imaginative tour-de-force from a writer of extraordinary and exuberant talent.


Our next online get together is on World Book Night: Friday 23 April at 6pm. We will be discussing White Houses by Amy Bloom.

“Irresistibly readable, fascinating material – Amy Bloom has written a remarkably intimate and yet informative novel of the (secret/scandalous) love of Eleanor Roosevelt and her longtime friend and companion Lorena Hickok, who relates the tale in her own, quite wonderful voice”. Joyce Carol Oates

“A tender, heart-warming exploration of a hidden but profound love…[Bloom] takes the historical moment and opens it up, prising it apart to let in the ligh” Irish Times


Lesley Wood – Director of New Writing South commented: “The Hear Us Out Book Group will NOT be like your average book group. Our friends at Collected Works will take all the hit-and-miss out of it as they curate some of the best, brightest new LGBTQ+ fiction for us to read and discuss.  They will be inspiring, sometimes surprising, and always beautifully written books, to nurture tired souls and get us through the last of these lost lockdown months. Readers of all ages are warmly invited to join these companionable, uplifting sessions.”

Sarah Hutchings – Director, Collected Works CIC added: “Initially, for the first few months, the book group will be run and hosted by Collected Works CIC, in partnership with New Writing South, with the hope that it will eventually become a peer-led group, where members choose the books each month. We will be there at the beginning to get the group going, provide support and encourage members to join.”