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.
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MARY MCCARTHY (1912–1989) was a short-story writer, bestselling novelist, essayist, and critic. She was the author of The Stones of Florence and Birds of America, among other books.Review:
"A witty, moving, instructive and wise novel¾a gem of American social history as well as very good fiction." -- The Nation
"An admirable piece of fiction and the best book [Mary McCarthy] has written." -- Saturday Review
"Juicy, shocking, witty, and almost continually brilliant." -- Cosmopolitan
Mary McCarthy's The Group is a sharply-pointed satire of upper-class New England society which follows the post-college lives of eight Vassar graduates, class of '33. Helena was registered for Vassar at birth; Pokey forged her mother's signature on her college application in defiance of the family tradition of "being dim-witted and vain of it." Out in the "real" world, Dottie loses her virginity to a "bad sort" but discovers that she enjoys sex, while Kay subsumes her own talent to the artistic "genius" of her egocentric and philandering husband. Libby writes book reviews that are almost as long as the original material and Polly works as a nurse, while Priss is forced by her pediatrician-husband to go against "tradition" and her inclinations and breastfeed her baby, as proof of his theories. Elinor "Lakey" Eastlake, the sleek, rich leader of the group, travels about Europe and ultimately returns, full of surprises. Adopting the non-stop, generally well-intentioned, but hopelessly narrow-minded voice that typifies the worst of the group, Mary McCarthy filets Ivy League society, socialism, 1930s child-rearing practices, sexual double-standards, psychoanalysis, and men in general. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Erica Bauermeister
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