One dimensional characters and thin plotlines. About halfway through I did not care what happened to any of the characters.
I also found it very 'mumsy' - focussed on mothers and their lives and problems which made it hard to relate to. The character of Claire was closest to my personal situation - however I felt the scenarios around this character were badly handled and the character largely written out of the book fairly quickly.
There was also a strong undercurrent of intolerance / dislike of men running through the text.
The overall impression was of a bunch of bored, uninteresting, women getting together - oh and they vaguely reviewed some books along the way.
The mechanism of using a reading group, and their discussion of a wide range of books, to move the plot forward, to explore deeper issues and chart the changing emotions of the characters appealed to me - particularly given the list of books (the titles of which provide the chapter by chapter structure of the Reading Group).
However, what seemed like a great idea turns out to be a cheap trick that pays less than lip service to some great books, including 'Atonement', 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' and 'The Woman Who Walked into Doors'. Sadly the 'group' discussions are skated over and the books themselves are dismissed quickly, particularly the ones penned by male authors. The consensus of the characters in this (ironically) emotionally thin book, is that men cannot write about emotions.
I disagree strongly with this generalisation, and comments like this distanced me from the characters and emphasised the broad-brush, superficial approach. This book is written by a woman, but despite the fact that it deals with what should be big emotional issues such as motherhood (ad nauseum), loss, love, grief, ambition, sacrifice and reconciliation, its lack of depth and emotional honesty left me completley cold.
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