Friday, April 10, 2009

The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble

Trite. Cliched. I picked this up for $1 in the Clearance aisle at Half-Price Books. It sounded light and fun, but now I know why it was in the Clearance section.

The premise of the book sounds engaging. Five friends meet once a month to discuss the book of the month. Each book relates to their lives in some way. Noble gives a blurb for the book - all of which are stereotypical book group readings - at the beginning of the chapter before launching into the conversation the characters have about the story.

I found myself having difficulty keeping track of the characters originally. Five women, all with personal issues, all with children. Somehow despite their varied stories and varied physical looks they blended together.

When all was said and done the overall stories ended up in a very Hollywood way. Noble suggests early in the book that she likes happy endings but the endings are so obvious as to make the reader wonder why they bothered reading the book.

As much as i disliked the book, I would actually recommend The Reading Group for book groups. Many of the themes about relationships and social interactions - trite or not - open themselves up for interesting debates. Falling out of love with a mate, dealing with the death of a parent, infertility, discovering infidelity: issues that affect many of us are covered in this novel.  Using the same format that Noble herself used, it would be an interesting experiment to read the books used by Noble and Noble's book herself in the course of one year of a book group.

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