August 08, 2010

The Group - Mary McCarthy


I know The Group is a book that is well reviewed, and for the most part, really well liked in the blogging arena. I had read and heard so much about it and it sounded like the perfect read for me - a book focusing on the lives of a group of women who had graduated from college together in 1930's New York - great era, great focus, great city - all the right ingredients were there but unfortunately this book fell flat for me.

I really struggled to warm to or connect with any of the characters - I tried to put myself in the shoes of the characters and think about the social and political time they were living in - especially for women - but for some reason it just did not capture my interest. I certainly appreciated the strong writing but a lot of the time I thought the writing was there to demonstrate the strength and talent of the writer as opposed to telling the story. I found the endless internal and external monologues of the characters tedious and at times I felt like I was being preached too in relation to the time in which the book was set and then published.

At first I felt disappointed in myself as a reader - such an important social feminist novel and I can't get into it!! But then I relaxed and let myself off - this just wasn't the book for me - there will always be plenty more that are!

15 comments:

Paperback Reader said...

Karen, I'm so sorry that you didn't love this book but, you're right, we can't love them all! Better luck next time and I can completely see why this book wouldn't be for everyone because it does have a style that isn't to everyone's taste.

JoAnn said...

Sorry this didn't work for you. I purchased it last January but still haven't gotten to it... certainly hope to before the year is out!

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Sometimes it's hard for me to get into a book that has been built up quite a bit -- I over-expect it to be mind-blwoing, you know? But, it sounds like this one might just be a bit pretentious in its writing? I still would like to read this, though!

Steph said...

Sorry to hear this one didn't work for you. It's always tough when one approaches a well-loved book that we feel we should enjoy/respect/admire only to find we don't connect with it. But as you said, there are so many books out there, that it's not really the end of the world if one fails to shake our foundation and become a new favourite. Surely something else will!

ds said...

I've been wanting to read this book for ages, and am so sorry it did not work for you. But your criticisms are some that I've seen before about this book. You are not alone in thinking that McCarthy was perhaps showing off a bit.

Bloomsbury Bell said...

Interesting post - I have wanted to read this for ages because, as you say, it has all the right ingredients.I will dig it out at the library and give it a go.

Dot said...

I keep looking at this book but can't make my mind up whether it is for me or not. I think it is hard when you don't like something that so many others have, we're all different though!

Karen said...

Hi Claire - so true! As I said I was disappointed at first that I didn't like it because I really thought I should have but I have moved on now!

Hi JoAnn - I would be interested to hear what you think of it once you get to it.

Hi Coffee - I'm not sure I would say the writing was pretentious necessarily - just over written in my opinion. Would love you know what you think of it.

Hi Steph - I know there are plenty of other books out there for me - too many really!!

Hi ds - thanks for your feedback - I hadn't heard those opinions before about this book but it is always nice to hear that you are not alone in your views!

Hi Blomsbury Bell - I really look forward to hearing what you think of this one.

Hi Dot - I would give this one a go and see what you think - I could tell very early on that I wasn't going to like it.

Sam said...

I agree- don't worry, there are lots of books out there that cater to different tastes. Plus, if we all loved the same books, how boring would our reviews be!
It does look interesting to me (especially as I enjoy the authors mentioned on the cover) but I think I'll sneak a chapter in the bookshop before making a decision.

Rachel (Book Snob) said...

Oh what a shame! I hate it when I don't love a book others have raved about. It does make you think - what's wrong with me? - but there's nothing wrong with you, it's just not your cup of tea!

I shall be reading this as one of my America books and I hope I will like it...

Karen said...

Hi Sam - so, so true! I have said that before - the reading world would be a very boring place if we only had one type of book and reader.

Hi Rachel - I really hope you enjoy it - looking forward to hearing what you think.

nomadreader said...

I was instantly put off by the mention of Candace Bushnell on the cover. As much as I adore Sex & the City, I detest Bushnell's writing and have a hard time taking a work of literature seriously if her name is attached. I wonder if Mary McCarthy would agree. I still hope to read some of her work one day, but I appreciate the word of caution!

Karen said...

Hi nomadreader - I understand what you mean!

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