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The Group (1963)

by Mary McCarthy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,051525,924 (3.71)1 / 104
McCarthy' s most celebrated novel portrays the experiences of eight young women from Vassar College, Class of ' 33. As the story opens, they meet in New York City for the wedding of Kay, one of " the group." The author then describes the lives, loves, and aspirations of these women until they reconvene seven years later in the same city for Kay' s funeral. " Juicy, shocking, witty, and almost continually brilliant" (Cosmopolitan).… (more)
  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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» See also 104 mentions

English (44)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (52)
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
This book was just okay. A little hard to follow at times and then it just sort of ended. Like you would end a chapter but this was an end to the book. I had to go back and read the ending a few times because I couldn't believe it just ended like it did. Definitely not a re-read here but it was interesting for the most part. ( )
  Stacie-C | May 8, 2021 |

The Group, written in 1963 follows eight Vassar graduates from the class of 1933 from their graduation through 1940. It was a National Book Award finalist.

Apparently it created a minor sensation when it was published, due to its frank and matter-of-fact descriptions of sexuality and sex. It’s probably the most clinical book that I’ve read on the subject, but I’m not well-read in that area.

The writing has a comfortable, breathless quality, as though one of the women is telling this story over cocktails. I think it is especially interesting to read a story about women’s issues and their place in society in the 1930s, written from the perspective of the early ‘60s.

( )
  LenJoy | Mar 14, 2021 |
"Her roommates nearly popped, they were so impressed, having only gone to Smith and Holyoke."

"...her doctor had ordered her to put on lipstick and powder right in the middle of labor; he and Sloan both thought it was important for a maternity patient to keep herself up to the mark."

This review. ( )
  beautifulshell | Aug 27, 2020 |
Mary McCarthy wrote each of these characters with such complexity and compassion that I couldn't help but identify intimately with every one. It was almost jarring to go to the next chapter and read a disparaging comment about what had just transpired with the character before--I wanted to rush to her defense, every time, until I was convinced to the perspective of this new woman. Ultimately, though, it was their fierce loyalty, even when they didn't understand each other, that won me over. I might have to purchase this one. ( )
  jostie13 | May 14, 2020 |
The Group tends to be at it's best during the brief stretches of sardonic, and occasionally snappy, dialog. They're carried off with the same disaffected knowing-ness that permeates the whole book, yet are more alive and engaging than the rest of the writing. A couple parts drag, such as the self-anguishing sections devoted to Priss and Polly (one of which concludes: "...they were all talking about her nursing and pretending that it was exciting, when it was not...". Amen after 30 pages devoted to just that topic.)

Gentle, mocking superiority peppered with cynicism. Semi-epic in length. It's solid candidate (proto) post-ironic material. Except for the upbeat corner it turns at the end.

There is plenty to be said about the context and social commentary within the novel, but I'll leave that for others.

Lastly, it's aged well. First published in the 50's, the writing still has a crisp, direct and modern feel. ( )
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McCarthy, MaryAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bushnell, CandaceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Cristofaro, Magdasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fenwick, Jean-RenéTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gentien, AntoineTranslatorsecondary 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)
Quotations
Libby took special pains with her reports ... typing them triple-spaced on a kind of sky-blue typing paper that was still manufactured in one of the mills in Pittsfield and stapling them in stiff blue covers.
One of the big features of living alone was that you could talk to yourself all you wanted and address imaginary audiences, running the gamut of emotions.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

McCarthy' s most celebrated novel portrays the experiences of eight young women from Vassar College, Class of ' 33. As the story opens, they meet in New York City for the wedding of Kay, one of " the group." The author then describes the lives, loves, and aspirations of these women until they reconvene seven years later in the same city for Kay' s funeral. " Juicy, shocking, witty, and almost continually brilliant" (Cosmopolitan).

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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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