Ok, now I can claim I am obsessed with Elizabeth Noble! 🙂 After having read and liked Things I Want My Daughters To Know and Alphabet Weekends, I was desperate to read more by her. So, when the hubby asked me to choose a Christmas-cum-New-Year’s present, the selection happened quickly. I picked up two books by Elizabeth Noble – The Reading Group and The Girl Next Door – on condition that I will not buy books again for my birthday and wedding anniversary. 🙂
I just finished reading The Reading Group, and am here to rant about it. 🙂
The Reading Group is the story of five ladies with different personalities – Clare, Polly, Susan, Harriet and Nicole – who come together to form a book club. None of them are bookworms, to be honest, but get together to give a new meaning to their reading. Slowly and gradually, the reading group begins to discuss broader topics about life over and above books. Each of these ladies are dealing with problems of their own. Once the members of the group get closer, they begin to look forward to meeting each other and having fun and, once in a while, lending a shoulder to each other to cry on.
Initially, the number of characters in the book confused me, but once I got a hang of them, I pretty much got into the story. I wouldn’t say I LOVED the book, but I liked it quite a bit.
The book begins in a simple, straightforward way and then delves deeper and deeper into the lives of the various characters, dealing with a wide range of topics – teenage pregnancy, infidelity in marriage, female bonding, infertility, good and bad marriages, love and ‘the idea of love’ and in a small part, of course, books.
Why I didn’t fall in love with this book is because it is not exactly about a ‘reading group’, as the title suggests. It is more about a bunch of women who deal with various issues in their lives and share and care for each other. Books, disappointingly, form a very small part of the conversations in the entire story. If you are looking forward to read a deliciously juicy book about books, this might not be the one for you.
This is a story about female bonding all right, but these ladies do not bond only because of the reading group that they form. Polly and Susan, Harriet and Nicole have been friends since long – since even before the book club was formed – and the story is more about the bonding between these friends. The book club as a whole plays a rather small part in the overall female bonding.
I loved reading the individual life stories of each of these five ladies, and enjoyed knowing how their lives shaped up, but when considered as a whole, the book seemed lacking. I don’t know if I am making sense, but that’s how I felt.
The Reading Group is definitely more than an ordinary chick-lit book, and did leave me thinking on various issues. It has warmth, romance and humour, and a lot of serious issues discussed in simple terms. I would surely recommend it to those who are looking for some light but thought-provoking reading. Just don’t go in looking for book-lovers and bookish conversations!