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The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan
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The Red Book (2012)

by Deborah Copaken Kogan

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2533145,261 (3.47)24

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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
I'm not yet halfway through but don't think I can keep slogging on. While I know it's not true, based on this book, Harvard grads are self-absorbed women of varying degrees of privilege. Their stories are just irritating. ( )
  dcmr | Jul 4, 2017 |
I had attempted to read this before and put it down because it just didn't hold my interest, but I decided to give it another go since its been nominated for a literary prize. It was a struggle to get through and I'm not sure why its been deemed prize worthy. ( )
  Iambookish | Dec 14, 2016 |
Lately my reading inclinations have shifted a bit from action or plot-driven books to ones that are driven by characters and their interactions. So when Ann from Books on the Nightstand recommended this audio, I checked it out. I thought it would be entirely epistolary in form, but it isn’t. There are some Red Book entries scattered throughout and those form the introductions to the people we meet, but then it turns to a traditional 3rd person perspective. Sometimes those introductions aren’t important and that got annoying. Certain characters with Red Book entries aren’t pivotal to the plot and are only mentioned in passing and it was irritating to hear all about them, waiting for them to figure in the story and never hearing about them again. Overall the narration by a large cast was pretty good, however some of the women’s voices are too similar to immediately distinguish them.

Because the rarified world of Harvard, Radcliffe etc., is so unattainable to me and to many others, the book has more than a dash of voyeuristic appeal. Not all of the characters are insufferable jerks, but a few are as would be with any group. The relationships between are interesting and sometimes unexpected. Mostly the author paints them starkly, warts and all, but there is a soft-focus about some of the more negative aspects that renders the story nostalgic more than journalistic. Another reviewer noted that everyone’s marriage or whatever was plagued by infidelity and it’s true. Strange though. Everyone? Even the seemingly best and most honest of the pairings was marred by this. Other fates weren’t handed out so even-handedly so some get rich while others go broke, some have steady careers while some do not, some have responsible kids, some do not. Everything turns out alright in the end though, for pretty much everyone and it’s the friendships that do the saving.

In a way I was a little jealous of the safety network that surrounds these people. It stems from their being together at Harvard, but their initial meeting was just random. They play it up though and for the most part are good at letting bygones be bygones. Take Addison and her college sweetheart; now that was over and above the call of duty in terms of letting the past go. There may be baggage and questionable motives, but overall the friendships are mostly believable. It is fiction, but the lack of any enemies other than the twist of fate was a bit off-putting. Again with the soft-focus technique. But sometimes I need that in fiction and this delivered well enough. ( )
1 vote Bookmarque | Nov 23, 2014 |
recommended by Pat ( )
1 vote | Carole-Ann | Aug 9, 2014 |
A group of friends attend their 20th Harvard reunion. There is hanky-panky, drama, reflection, conversation, and traumatic events (I won't spoil the plot). The titular red book is the alumni anniversary report bound in crimson, eagerly awaited by Harvard graduates every 5 years. I have no personal knowledge, since Radcliffe rejected me in 1969. The characters' red book pages dot the text and by the end of the book, you feel you know these people. ( )
1 vote ennie | Feb 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
It's very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present. You know what I mean? It's awfully difficult.
- - Little Edie Beale, Grey Gardens
Dedication
For the ghosts of my past: dead or alive, out of touch or on speed dial, you remain.
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Okay, so here I am, just like back in college, writing this thing with only forty minutes left to go before the deadline.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Clover, Addison, Mia and Jane were roommates at Harvard until graduation in 1989. Like all Harvard grads, they've kept tabs on one another via the red book, a class report published every five years containing brief bio updates by fellow alumni. But there's the story we tell the world, and then there's the real story ... as these former classmates will learn during their twentieth reunion, when they arrive with their families, their dashed dreams and their secret yearnings for a life-changing, score-settling, unforgettable weekend.
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Centering around Harvard's Red Book, a collection of personal triumphs and failures from graduates, this tongue-in-cheek novel follows a group of roommates from the class of 1989 as they prepare for their twentieth reunion weekend.

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