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The Group by Mary McCarthy
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The Group (1963)

by Mary McCarthy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,826455,766 (3.74)1 / 84
  1. 10
    Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann (gaialover)
    gaialover: The intertwined lives of a group of women friends set in a historic time period.
  2. 10
    How I Grew by Mary McCarthy (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Die Erinnerungen beziehen sich auf den Zeitraum ihres Literaturstudiums am Vassar-College. "Die Clique" hat hier ihren Ursprung.
  3. 00
    Superior Women by Alice Adams (kraaivrouw)
  4. 00
    Fame and Fortune by Frederic Raphael (KayCliff)
  5. 00
    How Far Can You Go? by David Lodge (KayCliff)
  6. 00
    The Glittering Prizes by Frederic Raphael (KayCliff)
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English (39)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (45)
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
This was one of the most fascinating books I've read in a while. Sex and the city - 1930's Manhattan. It was written in the 50's and was on the best seller list for two years when birth control, bad husbands, mental illness, and baby shit were still forbidden topics in polite society. It follows a few members of a group of friends who went to Vassar together and meet with varying amounts of success in careers and marriage over the decade. The interest is in considering what has changed in nearly 100 years, and what has not. ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
A political, economic and social snapshot of particular people in particular times, the novel is a window into the lives of at least eight Vassar-graduate women during 30s America - that unusual period of flux in (American) history anchored on either side by the Depression and WWII.

The story is thoughtful in the analyses of its characters: their privileges, their vanities, their rebellion towards the rigidity of their parents' era and their burgeoning ideas of feminism, their encounters and reactions to patriarchal hierarchies, their own newly developed intellectual pretensions battling with their ingrained social pretensions. The novel puts their hypocrisy and denial on full display, not to condemn them, but to acknowledge and contextualise their flaws without excusing their actions.

It tackles some incredibly prevalent issues, such as birth control, sexuality, domestic abuse and in/dependence within a marriage. It is disheartening to be reminded again of the paradoxical expectations placed on women, especially these educated women who are applauded for their independence, yet who are still expected to fulfil all the "traditional" aspects of being a nurturing homebound subservient mother.

With Life as the only overarching plot here, the book is still nevertheless thoroughly engaging, with just the right amount of depth of characterisation for the breadth of characters it had. ( )
  kitzyl | Nov 26, 2018 |
Stories about female friendships and how they grow and change over time and through life experiences are catnip to me. Mary McCarthy's The Group follows eight young women who graduate from Vassar in 1933 and the course their lives take over the next seven years. The novel kicks off with the rather impulsive wedding of one of their number, Kay, to her long-distance and mysterious boyfriend Harald almost immediately after graduation. Kay's marriage (and its deterioration) make up the most coherent through-line of the story, which follows the members of the group one at a time as they make their way in the world (the world being 1930's New York for the most part) and continue to be involved in each other's lives. McCarthy's writing is sharp and insightful, and the characters she writes feel very real...all of them are self-deluding to some extent and McCarthy lets you "watch" them do it through her narration of their lives.

What struck me as I read this book, which was apparently enormously popular when it was published in the 60s, was how even though it was written 50 years ago and takes place another 30 years before that, it was so modern in many ways. Sure, some of the references are pretty dated, but the challenges these women face are largely similar to the ones we're continuing to face today: the difference between sex and love (and wanting the former to mean the latter even when you know it doesn't), dead-end relationships, sexism in the workplace, sexuality, marriage, raising kids. There's a character, Priss, who has a child and is struggling with the decision of whether to breast feed or bottle feed and the way she feels like she's doing it wrong depending on who's she's talking to. The Mommy Wars feel very current and endemic to the current social media-laden climate, but this book makes it obvious that it goes back waaay further than that. It's easy to feel like the stuff your generation is facing is new and different than the things that previous generations struggled with, but it's really much more similar than you might think. Plus ca change and all that. ( )
  500books | May 22, 2018 |
I'm not sure how I encountered this book but what a joy it was to read. Eight young women from Vassar are graduated and starting their own lives. The book follows their stories as they weave in and out with each other and the wildly different paths they take. ( )
  Brainannex | Apr 3, 2017 |
Stories about female friendships and how they grow and change over time and through life experiences are catnip to me. Mary McCarthy's The Group follows eight young women who graduate from Vassar in 1933 and the course their lives take over the next seven years. The novel kicks off with the rather impulsive wedding of one of their number, Kay, to her long-distance and mysterious boyfriend Harald almost immediately after graduation. Kay's marriage (and its deterioration) make up the most coherent through-line of the story, which follows the members of the group one at a time as they make their way in the world (the world being 1930's New York for the most part) and continue to be involved in each other's lives. McCarthy's writing is sharp and insightful, and the characters she writes feel very real...all of them are self-deluding to some extent and McCarthy lets you "watch" them do it through her narration of their lives.

What struck me as I read this book, which was apparently enormously popular when it was published in the 60s, was how even though it was written 50 years ago and takes place another 30 years before that, it was so modern in many ways. Sure, some of the references are pretty dated, but the challenges these women face are largely similar to the ones we're continuing to face today: the difference between sex and love (and wanting the former to mean the latter even when you know it doesn't), dead-end relationships, sexism in the workplace, sexuality, marriage, raising kids. There's a character, Priss, who has a child and is struggling with the decision of whether to breast feed or bottle feed and the way she feels like she's doing it wrong depending on who's she's talking to. The Mommy Wars feel very current and endemic to the current social media-laden climate, but this book makes it obvious that it goes back waaay further than that. It's easy to feel like the stuff your generation is facing is new and different than the things that previous generations struggled with, but it's really much more similar than you might think. Plus ca change and all that. ( )
1 vote ghneumann | Aug 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McCarthy, Maryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bushnell, CandaceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Cristofaro, Magdasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fenwick, Jean-RenéTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gentien, Antoinesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hertel, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kliphuis, J.F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kliphuis-Vlaskamp, R.W.M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moura, Sofia GracaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salomaa, AnttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vázquez, PilarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zedlitz, Ursula vonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was June, 1933, one week after Commencement, when Kay Leiland Strong, Vassar '33, the first of her class to run around the table at the Class Day dinner, was married to Harald Petersen, Reed '27, in the chapel of St. George's Church, P.E., Karl F. Reiland, Rector.
My mother introduced me to The Group when I was a teenager. (Introduction)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
The Group follows eight graduates from exclusive Vassar College as they find love and heartbreak, choose careers and husbands against the backdrop of 1930s New York. 'Focusing on a group of New York friends, it open discussion of sex and contraception, careers and motherhood was unprecedented and it can now be seen as the precursor of the women's novel - without The Group there would certainly no Sex and the City'.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156372088, Paperback)

Written with a trenchant, sardonic edge, The Group is a dazzlingly outspoken novel and a captivating look at the social history of America between two world wars.

 

Mary McCarthy’s most celebrated novel follows the lives of eight Vassar graduates, known simply to their classmates as “the group.” An eclectic mix of personalities and upbringings, they meet a week after graduation to watch Kay Strong get married. After the ceremony, the women begin their adult lives—traveling to Europe, tackling the worlds of nursing and publishing, and finding love and heartbreak in the streets of New York City. Through the years, some of the friends grow apart and some become entangled in each other's affairs, but all vow not to become like their mothers and fathers. It is only when one of them passes away that they all come back together again to mourn the loss of a friend, a confidante, and most importantly, a member of the group.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:42 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Depicts the experiences of eight Vassar graduates during the thirty years following their graduation.

» see all 6 descriptions

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