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The Group (VMC) Paperback – 3 Dec 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; Penguin 1966 edition. edition (3 Dec. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844085937
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844085934
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 81,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

The perfect example of competitive friendship and a reminder that rivalry is normal (Psychologies)

*'A brilliant novel:honest, engaging and sharp as a tack (Sarah Waters)

*'One of my favourite books ever (India Knight)

Lively, vivid and exceedingly entertaining (SUNDAY TIMES)

Juicy, shocking, witty, and almost continually brilliant (COSMOPOLITAN)

Book Description

The original SEX AND THE CITY. First published in 1963, THE GROUP, set in the 1930s, follows the lives of eight college friends as they begin their adult lives.
'A brilliant novel:honest, engaging and sharp as a tack' Sarah Waters

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm quite surprised at the negative comments in the reviews for this book. I haven't even finished it yet but feel compelled to write a review. I am loving this book - it is a real gem. The themes it covers: sex, marriage, relationships, motherhood, breastfeeding, mental health, and friendships are as relevant today as they must have been 80 years ago. I only wish I'd found this book when I was in my early twenties. I have found this book hard to put down and I haven't got to the end yet. It isn't a light read (and I think the references to Sex And The City a little misleading - there are similarities - a bunch of young women coping with life and men in New York) but I am thoroughly enjoying this book and hope to read it again one day.
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Format: Paperback
The Group, by Mary McCarthy
The Group is the best-known of all novels written by Mary McCarthy. This glamorous American intellectual has Catholic, Jewish and Protestant origins, which inspired her recollection of childhood Memories of a Catholic Girlhood. She was married to the famous critic Edmund Wilson, and played an outstanding role in the jet-set of Letters in the United States at the time. The Group is a novel which is bound to be of interest mainly to women readers. It tells the story of 8 girls who start life after university, in 1933. However, it doesn't turn out to be outdated at all. These 8 women are all very different. They all studied at Vassar, but their families are not all that rich, especially because of the Depression, a topic very much discussed by most of the characters, who don't agree completely with Roosevelt policies. These girls differ also in personality, and therefore they settle down in very different jobs and marriages. Mary McCarthy covers their lives until 1940, and this allows her to cover as well a very wide range of issues: contraception, the theoretical points in the upbringing of children, the loss of virginity, the hassle of housework and early married life, loneliness, lesbianism, adultery... We even get a very funny and ironical picture of a young woman writer as she tries to make her way through the obstacles of the editorial world... It seems that Mary McCarthy has chosen fragmentary structure (each chapter is centred on one of the girls) and multiple character with the intention to show all the different aspects of the lives of contemporary women. Thus, what we get is not really several particular women, but the image of the new Woman. However, the novel is very entertaining and it achieves its objective.
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Format: Paperback
This brilliant novel was written in the fifties, and it's about the lives of a group of university-educated American women in the 1930s. And yet, Mary McCarthy's writing is so modern that 'The Group', unlike many so-called classics, is still an absolute joy to read today. One of the reasons for this is the fact that many of the subjects McCarthy touches continue to be relevant in the 21st century. For example, the power struggle in relationships; the intricate motives behind our choice of life/love partners; how we actually define friendship; parenthood; the importance of work for personal life. And it confirmed something I'd always suspected: the so-called sexual revolution happened decades before the hippies claimed to have invented it! This is a really interesting book, social commentary at its best. I only wish I had read it when I was young - it kind of fills you with courage and determination.

The other reason why the novel stands the test of time is the superb writing. The tone is smart and witty, the language tightly clipped. Very stylish but utterly unflinching. Not a flowery or sentimental word in sight, nothing facile, no pandering of any kind. The dialogues are very realistic - again, surprisingly modern - and overall the excellent Mary McCarthy makes the reader put a bit of work into it, which I like. It's such a shame that the author wrote so little; she was good enough to be one of America's greatest. (For my money, she is anyway.)

This formidable novel has been dubbed 'The original Sex & the City' and I think that's a disgraceful comparison. Please. This is a hundred times better than SATC. 'The Group' is a novel by a woman, about women, and yet, thankfully, there's nothing "chick lit" about it. Pure intellectual stimulation; I dare say it will appeal equally to both genders.
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Format: Paperback
The writing feels surprisingly modern. Made me think of Ayn Rand and Edith Wharton in a way. I love the way Mary McCarthy allows her characters time to talk and think, and their different perspectives. But still not a word too much. Can't wait to read more of her books.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have picked this up more than once and considered reading it - even started it on one occasion. I gave up -but this time, because it was a book group suggestion, I stuck with it. It is not an easy read, but it is rewarding. I am so glad I persevered, and now understand why it's stood the test of time and considered an important book.
I wouldn't call it a feminist book. It's about a group of Vassar educated women of the 1930s, and the society they inhabited and how the issues of those days affected their lives. Believe me, those issues resonate today, and probably did for our mothers, and probably will for our daughters- particularly those about child rearing and feeding.
Some of the characters I found tedious and annoying, but I think they were bravely meant to be. Most were moving and some were uplifting and funny. This book is a complex, intricate, many shaded work of verbal tapestry, and if you read it I wonder which character will appeal to you most and why. That question was so entertainingly answered at our book group.
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