The Reading Group follows the trials and tribulations of a group of women who meet regularly to read and discuss books.Over the course of a year, each of these women become intertwined, both in the books they read and within each other's lives.
Inspired by a shared desire for conversation, a good book and a glass of wine-Clare, Harriet, Nicole, Polly, and Susan undergo startling revelations and transformations despite their differences in background, age and respective dilemmas.
What starts as a reading group gradually evolves into a forum where the women may express their views through the books they read and grow to become increasingly more open as the bonds of friendship cement.
In The Reading Group, Noble reveals the many complicated paths in life we all face as well as the power and importance of friendship.
Perfect indulgence for the eponymous set or pandering to an anticipated audience? Or maybe both? As the London Evening Standard put it, "The blurb has down as a simple Surrey housewife who knocked this out between the Hoovering and the hot sex, but further investigation reveals her to be a veteran of book marketing married to the head of Time Warner UK." Go figure! Well, either way, this U.K. bestseller is a frothy page-turner that dissects the relationships, desires and discoveries of five English women, all members of a book club. Over the course of a year, the women read 12 novels (including Atonement, Rebecca and The Alchemist) and, through their playful but intimate discussions (few of which revolve around the books), they bond closely while coping with such matters as a philandering husband, a mother with dementia, a pregnant but unmarried daughter, an infertility crisis, a wedding and a funeral. It's a testament to Noble's characterizations and plotting that the novel is not overwhelming, despite its numerous (perhaps too many) points of view, complicated backstories and interweaving contemporary crises. Light but never flip, this is funny, contemplative and touching reading, and the group's familiar book choices allow readers to feel as if they're part of the gang, too, as they race to the end, eager to find out what happens, why it does and what it all means.
Reading Between the Lines
As a book club member for over twenty years, I had a few ideas about this reading experience before I started to read. The structure of the book and The Reading Group seemed familiar, I liked the group itself and was glad there weren't any more members. I found the reading selections varied and the discussions, as described, either had me nodding or smiling and was definitely in agreement when group members simply announced they'd not read the book. Sounded very familiar. I liked the fast clipped pace, wasn't crazy about the wandering point of view, but overall enjoyed the experience of The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble. I'll likely check out a few of the
titles in the group's reading list.