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The Group (VMC) Paperback – 3 Dec 2009
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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)
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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Top Customer Reviews
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 However, it doesn't turn out to be outdated at all.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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved this book and couldn't put it down. Other reviews have explained the theme of the book and it is surprisingly modern and up to date. Read morePublished 2 months ago by carol thomas
Brilliant book; really helpful reading aid to my English university course.Published 14 months ago by Abbie Williams
Another Book Club choice, which was interesting for it's character portrayals, and the reverses of fortunes they experienced in the course of the storyPublished on 11 Jan. 2014 by Jill Gillian