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The Reading Group

Written by Elizabeth Noble.

“Each woman finds support in the groups monthly meetings.”

This is a story of several women’s’ lives throughout the first year of their reading group. To be honest, I don’t rate it particularly highly and I didn’t like the style at all. The sentences were long and muddled and it was often difficult to work out which subject or person it was about. This, and other points of grammar were so bad, I did wonder whether the publishers bothered to pay an editor for this book.
I felt that the author had her background notes for each character all neatly written and filed, and decided it was too much effort to keep to herself, and put it all in the book with continuous back-flashes that were just boring. I also got the feeling that the characters were being used so that the author could tell us all her own opinions and advice on life. I found it odd that one of the group assured her friend she wouldn’t be judged, and then proceeded to have 3 pages of thought devoted to doing exactly that.
This novel follows several similar characters and it wasn’t until half way through I could stop checking back to see who was who. At each change of stanza there was a name written at the top to give you a clue as to who it was going to be about. I expected this to be helpful, to inform me whose viewpoint it was going to be from, but unfortunately it bounced about from one person to the next, and as they each “remembered the time when…”, the place and era often changed as well. Not to mention that one woman had a son and an ex husband both called Dan.
The only thing I found amusing, was the sheer middle-aged and middle-class of it all. And the family who became the adopted holiday friends in Venice was classically funny.
As I approached the last third of the book, I was caring for the characters, and hoping everything turned out well for them; crying with them in the sad bits and glad when things turned out ok. So at least all that information ultimately went to a good use – I just wish it had been a bit quicker. My Mum would probably love it – she’d apply her psychology to them all and relate the characters to everyone she knows. She’d probably make me the uncaring sister Margaret crossed with Polly who married and had kids young – though I don’t share her sentiments about it.

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