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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bohemian Girl
In her interesting and helpful introduction to this novel Paula McLain writes, "I don't believe any of her (later) efforts matched the audacity, aplomb, and sheer literary merit of The Company She Keeps." I have not read enough of Mary McCarthy to be able to endorse this opinion but I certainly do not find it surprising. The courage, self-awareness and honesty of the...
Published on 16 Mar 2012 by Walter M. Holmes

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3.0 out of 5 stars Quite tedious
I don't like giving up on books, especially when I'm more than halfway through them. After 7 pages of Chapter 5 (Portrait of the Intellectual as a Yale Man), however, I had to consign this one to the charity shop pile for fear of expiring from boredom. The detailed analysis of Jim Barnett's life is deadly dull; I did not care enough about about him to carry on; the story...
Published 18 months ago by jane


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bohemian Girl, 16 Mar 2012
This review is from: The Company She Keeps (VMC) (Paperback)
In her interesting and helpful introduction to this novel Paula McLain writes, "I don't believe any of her (later) efforts matched the audacity, aplomb, and sheer literary merit of The Company She Keeps." I have not read enough of Mary McCarthy to be able to endorse this opinion but I certainly do not find it surprising. The courage, self-awareness and honesty of the then young author are very impressive.
The six stories which combine to form the structure of the novel reveal incidents in the early life of its heroine, Margaret Sargent, who defines herself as a bohemian and whose personality and emotions are brought into sharp focus. Her various relationships and encounters with men, are observed with forensic acuity, and described with wit and an alarmingly clear perception. They accumulate to give a disturbing picture of this modern young American. It seems that much is based on Mary McCarthy's own early experiences. The style, almost that of a dispassionate onlooker, maintains a distance and created a sense of objectivity. The novel captures significant episodes and allows the reader to determine the level of intensity. The heroine appears as an individual, rather than any kind of stereotype. Meg is determined, witty, politically involved, and an accomplished writer. Rather like her creator in fact!
But a far more sinister McCarthy was waiting in the wings and the reactionary United States of Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road was two decades away. Certain freedoms in behaviour may be more generally acceptable nowadays but I fear that freedom of thought is still at a premium. Conventions differ and behaviour that may have once seemed shocking is now perhaps commonplace. But the forces of reaction and repression are never very far away!
This very readable, often amusing, novel was initially published at the onset of the Second World War and may now seem to be rather dated. But it certainly has style!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Synopsis, 27 Aug 2008
This review is from: The Company She Keeps (Paperback)
After a Reno divorce Margaret Sargent, an attractive and intelligent girl, finds herself floundering in a world of casual affairs and squalid intimacies. She is in full revolt against society. But her new Bohemian life never achieves her own approval. The agony of repeated rejection and despair finally forces a strict reckoning on this lost, likeable figure
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3.0 out of 5 stars Quite tedious, 21 Oct 2012
This review is from: The Company She Keeps (VMC) (Paperback)
I don't like giving up on books, especially when I'm more than halfway through them. After 7 pages of Chapter 5 (Portrait of the Intellectual as a Yale Man), however, I had to consign this one to the charity shop pile for fear of expiring from boredom. The detailed analysis of Jim Barnett's life is deadly dull; I did not care enough about about him to carry on; the story wasn't going anywhere. Unlike other novels of the near past - the brilliant Revolutionary Road comes to mind - I found this one dated.
But I did enjoy Chapter 3 (The Man in the Brooks Brothers Shirt) which was pretty daring for the early 1940's. And she is an honest writer.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ahead of her time, 4 Sep 2012
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Brilliantly written, sharp and poignant, this is an exceptional book. Mary McCarthy observes life with a paradoxically cool eye and heartfelt connection. She is ahead of her time and yet reflects perfectly the time and place from whence she writes - Bohemian New York of the intelligentsia during the 1930s and 40s. Margaret Sheridan's life is related through a series of liason's with various men who ultimately misuse and disappoint her. As someone once admired in McCarthy - her ultimate mission seems to be to unearth truth, no matter how shameful, for in the long run it is the only authentic way to be. It also takes us to a place of understanding, rather than judgement and this is, I think, the most striking aspect of 'The Company She Keeps'.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars intrigueing sf mystery, 24 April 2002
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This review is from: Sight of Proteus (Paperback)
Form control - the technology which allows manipulation of the human form using biofeedback techniques allied with computers.
This novel is set in a future where humanity has spread throughout the solar system and is beginning to use these techniques to adapt non earth environments as well as for medical and cosmetic reasons.
The technology can be dangerous and is strictly regulated - our hero, Bey Wolf is top man in the Office of Form control.
The story centres around two mysteries which fall to Bey to investigate. The first is a transplant organ for which the DNA is not on file in a world where everybody's DNA is recorded soon after birth. The second is the discovery of the bodies of two outworlders - evidently killed by a form change which went disastrously wrong.
Some of the ideas have been used before in James Blish's 'The Seedling Stars', for example and the alien form into which Bey's sidekick was changed is reminiscent of Larry Niven's Pak, although the choice of character name (Bey Wolf) suggests an older source of inspiration.
Having said that however, the elements are blended nicely and the story rattles along at a good rate.
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The Company She Keeps (VMC)
The Company She Keeps (VMC) by Mary McCarthy (Paperback - 3 Nov 2011)
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