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The Red Book Hardcover – 3 Apr 2012

3.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 3 Apr 2012
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 347 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Books; First Edition First Printing edition (3 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781401340827
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401340827
  • ASIN: 1401340822
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,806,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Compulsive reading' (Meg Wolitzer, author of The Uncoupling)

'Destined to be a classic . . . a sharply funny, clear-eyed examination, in the vein of Mary McCarthy's The Group, of the power and burden of privilege, the reality of being a modern woman and the lasting bonds of female friendship' (Vanity Fair) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A college reunion, 20 years after graduation: can one weekend of nostalgia change some people's lives forever? --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Think a cast of characters with names like Bucky, Clover, Addison, Trilby...(to name but a few) set the scene. I wonder why this was long listed for Womens Prize. Whilst an OK read - I struggled to find any literary merit amid the overindulgent Harvard grads on their reunion weekend. Privileged but flawed lives and relationships and just shedloads of money, spent on jail bailouts and similar. Even the husband who has a heart attack brought on by financial stress has his family doing OK whe they sell the house in Antibes, move to a cosy (?) place in Venice Beach and she has to go out to work...Your heart bleeds, not! Long but easy to read and totally unmemorable
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By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 April 2012
Format: Hardcover
I bought and read "The Red Book", by Deborah Copaken Kogan, on the advise of some good friends - (Hi Betz and Bonnie!) - and was really not expecting much. Oh, maybe a four star look at the typical group of old college buddies - peopled with the standard WASP, Jewish, black, and Asian characters - each described with the short-hand caricatures of age-old womens' novels. And it was set at Harvard, no less, where everyone starts out brilliant!

But Kogan's novel was a much deeper, better written book than any of the genre I've read before. She cleverly and deftly draws her four main characters - Harvard grads who are reuniting for their 20th year reunion - with nary a caricature. (Except, maybe, the WASP character's name. I mean, "Addison Cornwall Hunt"?) By using the form of entries written for the class "Red Book" which describe each character from the basics of address, spouse/partner, job, children, and then going into what has happened since the previous "Red Book" entry five years previously, Kogan is masterful in her introduction to Addison, Mia, Clover, and Jane. But Kogan doesn't end with the main characters. She draws her secondary characters - in most cases family members of the four - as well as other Harvard alumni, who she also sketches by using the "Red Book" entries.

Set in those financially shaky days of June 2009, the four women return to Boston for their 20th reunion. All are involved in relationships - some shaky, some strong - and they are accompanied by their significant others and their children. The women are also accompanied by secrets; secrets they're holding off from each other and from their loved ones. Some secrets are of a financial nature and others are of more personal and intimate nature.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read a fantastic review of this book and thought it sounded perfect for me. However, I spent most of it wondering when the story would start and getting lost among the characters (and I easily follow Game of Thrones, so this is not a complaint about myriad characters!) When eventually it picked up, was actually quite brilliant for a section in the middle, and then, as the reviewer above states, seemed to completely lose its way. It's kind of like a poor man's "Freedom" in the way the teenage sex/family miscommunication/infidelity dramas are represented, and you kind of get the impression that's the type of ambience the author wants to create. I just didn't get the sense that these people ever had a true, close friendship.

I'm a UK reader, and this may hold more appeal to those who experienced the US college system. It just doesn't translate well. I love other American authors (Ethan Canin is a favourite). However, I ended up caring little for the characters, and ended up reading the last few chapters quickly.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The characters are well-described and interesting (although a bit of a "perfect" set -- and maybe not realistic -- with one black, one Asian, one possibly-gay etc, all boxes ticked). The premise is good and very relevant in this Facebook-dominated world: the world we present (in this case via Harvard Red Book entries) versus the reality of the lives we are leading.

The women's relationships and situations feel realistic in many ways, from the experience of motherhood vs. career, the expectations of the Harvard graduates versus the reality of their lives, to the astute perceptions of American culture of the ex-pat journalist (no wonder these feel the most real, considering this character shares a lot with the author).

That said, I got bored about halfway through this book and found the situations got less real and more pat once the characters were established. A rebellious teenage girl giving her mother a parenting speech and (wait for it) grounding herself!?? Felt absurd. Of course we have to have the Repentant Banker who is now unemployed and regretful of her part in the housing crisis. And I won't give away endings but a highly unlikely and less-believable romance blooms (I read in the author's notes that her editor made her change the ending to this romantic, fantasy silliness, complete with tropical island, and it feels that way -- tacked on and unrealistic).

The worst for me was one character finding out about the infidelity of her partner with a woman whose mysterious daughter has no father ever mentioned (I assumed it was the child of the wayward husband), but this is never brought up or asked about?! An editorial oversight?
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