Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble

(In which I’m starting to really like British writing.)


If there’s one thing similar among Alan Benett, Michel Faber and Elizabeth Noble apart from being British, it’s the uplifting humor in their writing. it comes when you least expect it, thus catching you off guard. But then the good storytelling grasps you again until you bump into another humorous remark. Before you know it, you’ve finished the novel, smiling and ruminating and shaking your head in disbelief.

The latest addition to my ever-growing pile is that of Elizabeth Noble’s – The Reading Group. I picked it up believing it would be a great help in my ambitious idea of starting a book club in the university I am currently teaching in, only to be baffled by how much I underestimated the novel’s capability. What seems to be a mere reading group turned out to be a complicated mix of women living complicated lives made colorful by the books they read. The team is made up of Harriet, a woman who believes that there must be more in life that her consistently loving husband; her best friend Nicole, who thinks there’s nothing more valuable than her consistently philandering husband; Polly, a woman torn between her love for her new boyfriend and her twenty-year-old pregnant daughter; Susan, a ridiculously happily married woman tormented by her mother’s disease; and Clare, a quiet yet clever woman who lives the unfortunately ironic life as an infertile midwife. The women, different as they are in age, belief and size, turn out to be the greatest allies each of them needs. Hesitation fills them at first. But just like The Avengers, they realize they are together in a reading group to serve a common purpose – to find solace in their tumultuous lives in the arms of people who understand.

Told in a lively, omniscient voice, The Reading Group takes readers into the labyrinth of women’s heart and mind. And in the end of the maze, if one doesn’t find a pot of gold, then at least there’s the enlightening trio of feminine strength, friendship and literature.

Currently reading

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chavalier

Photo source:

The Reading Group
The Lady and the Unicorn