Wednesday, 18 December 2013

THE INTERESTINGS by Meg Wolitzer

THE INTERESTINGS is a novel that follows a group of friends from their first meeting at a summer camp in their teens, through to their fifties. It covers a huge swathe of life, from failed careers, to rape accusations, to holidays in Venice, but for me it was primarily about the challenge of - as you get older - escaping from the conception you had of yourself as a young person. The main character is one Jules Jacobson, who is astonished by, and then enamoured of, the wealthy New York children she meets at summer camp, and this romance changes her life. It's a romance with a group, rather than a single person, which is something not often written about, and makes the book interesting and unusual.

Wolitzer is an insightful writer, and gave me much to think about. Here she is on a young man's relationship to his mother's boyfriend: " . . it was more father-son than Jonah imagined, for he felt greatly ambivalent about Barry, which was the way most sons seemed to feel about their fathers" And here she is on on a woman's affection for her failure of a brother: "It wasn't twinship, and it wasn't romance, but it was more like a passionate loyalty to a dying brand." She is also quite funny; here is a young man being shown his girlfriend's father's amateur drawings: "Ethan murmured something appropriate for each drawing he came to. It was like an extremely stressful game show, called Say the Right Thing, You Idiot."

In the end, Jules manages to fall out of the love with the group; and you feel both happy and sad for her. She anyway thinks she has made the right choice: "But, she knew, you didn't have to marry your soulmate, and you didn't even have to marry an Interesting. You didn't always need to be the dazzler, the firecracker, the one who cracked everyone else up, or made everyone want to sleep with you, or be the one who wrote and starred in the play that got the standing ovation. You could cease to be obsessed with the idea of being interesting."

I can't decide if this is maturing or settling.





1 comment:

  1. I liked this story and all the issues raised: friendship and what it means, life and love, the meaning of life and death. Wonderful read.

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