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READERJANE
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Re: Chapters One through Five

How are right about reality setting in, these characters reminded me so much of some of my own family members, who in their late 40's and early 50's still live as if they just came out of college ! Some of us never really grow up.
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KxBurns
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Re: Chapters One through Five


lhecht wrote:

[edited]

 

As some other readers mentioned, I foudn chapter 1 difficult.  There were a lot of characters introduced but not yet developed, which made them hard to remember from one page to the next.  And since Lil's character was not yet developed either (and we have to wait a long time to understand her better), she seemed more of a prop.  I am well otu of this generation, so I wasn't sure after the first chapter that I would enjoy the book.  But I did, and was drawn into their lives, and began to care what happened to some of them.  I attribute this to good writing.

 

[edited]


 

You're right -- it's interesting that Lil is so absent from the first chapter even though she is the center of attention, the main player in this big event. She almost seems like an empty vessel onto which the others project their own feelings and hopes.
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KxBurns
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Re: Chapters One through Five


pandy914 wrote:

I, too, found the first chapter to be difficult, sluggish reading, but afterward I've found myself most sympathetic to Beth, perhaps because I identify with her character the most. 

 

As a twenty-something, I remember all too well leaving behind the safe, comfortable net of academia, and how terrifying it was to have a full-time job and full-time financial responsibilities.  To navigate these transitions while watching your friends get married and have children adds even more uncertainty, which wreaks havoc on your self-esteem.  Or, at least, it did on mine.  You look back on the picture you had of your mid- to late-twenties when you were an adolescent, and panic when you remember all the things you were sure you'd accomplish by then, and haven't yet.  And this lack of clarity when thinking causes you to rush into things you'd normally avoid.

 

Beth feels the least settled out of all of her friends, because she's the newest entrant into this "adult" world.  To her eye, her friends seem so secure and successful, while she's made glaring mistakes with her studies, her job, her living situation, and her romantic relationships.  To me, Will must seem like a way to catch up, to avoid being left behind.  As an attractive, worldly, successful man, not to mention a father, he seems like someone who can provide her with a sense of stability, to alleviate her insecurities when comparing herself to her friends.  In my opinion, this is evidenced most when she breaks down after announcing her engagement;  she's so sure of her friends' impending disapproval, even pity, that she reacts before they even have a chance to do so.


 

This is a great assessment of Beth, pandy914. Seen in this light, it makes perfect sense that the relationship would have progressed so quickly.
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KxBurns
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Re: Chapters One through Five


m3girl wrote:

[edited]

Beth makes lots of comments - "Will said" - and I have friends that have gotten all involved in their boyfriends and their lives that they seem to lose themselves and guess that is what is happening with Beth.  She's weak....and perhaps the story will show us how she grows and becomes stronger and develops some self esteem.

[edited]


I see what you mean about losing oneself as part of a couple and Beth definitely reflects that by constantly referencing WIll. At the same time, she comes across as more assertive now that she is part of a unit. During the lunch, she appears to enjoy the insider status that being with Will confers and it's as if it gives her more power among her friends (particularly in relation to Lil) to be with Will. It's not genuine self-esteem if it's based on the achievements of another, but perhaps that will come if Beth can begin to see herself in a different light, especially in regard to her position within her group of friends?

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m3girl
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I finished up chapter 5 last night and first found it interesting that so much time has passed.  All the 'friends' are there and a few of them have big news - leading me to believe that they all might not be in such close touch at this point.  And Beth is marrying that loser Will - atta girl - way to go!

 

I liked this chapter and I like Sadie at this point.  She is also needy like her friends but she seems to be smart and sees it like it is.

 

A big ending - showing that it was Caitlin and Tuck in the bedroom... This is the first chapter that ended with something that made me interested in reading on.

 

I wonder why this chapter didn't get moved to the front - with the elimination of chapters 1-4.  Lots of what was in those chapters could be summarized in the rest of the book where necessary.  I am unsure that they added much to the story.

 

Susan

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maude40
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Re: Chapters One through Five

Chapter five, Lil's party for Tuck, it seems that at any party thrown there's a lot of strangers always present. Tuck is writing a book and Sadie's his editor and bringing in facts about the publishing business makes this part interesting for me. Will never seems to be in the picture which is good as he's a loser although maybe later in the book he'll turn out to be okay. Tuck isn't coming off as a great person, maybe Lil is worried he isn't what she hoped for in a husband. Yvonne
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NaniNT
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I agree with you.  the fact that the book began with a wedding it was very difficult to decide what to focus on -t he wedding or the characters. without having any prior knowledge of the characters,  i found myself struggling and rushing through the reading to determine the purpose of the chapter.
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cocospals
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I have found the book to be extremely difficult to get thru. I am not really seeing any true character development, I want to know more about what motivated them to pursue their chosen fields in college. The flashbacks are really confusing to me.  I would love to learn more about Emily. She seems to always be in the background, that friend who marches to the beat of a different drummer. I want to learn more about her and maybe that does come further on.
Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there - John Wooden
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canterbear
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Re: Chapters One through Five

ok now this is working for me again.

Was locked out earlier.

  I noticed that Will being English does not use alot of English terms when speaking.

It seems at this point in the book that Beth is becoming more the main character.

Just when I start to get attached to a character then the focus switches.

Anyone else have problems with that?

 

These characters remind me of some I went to jr. College with. Their main focus was did the shoes match the purse, sort of mentality.

 I would like to know if there is a deeper side to these characters.

And I would love to know more of the reasons behind their actions. 

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READERJANE
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Re: Chapters One through Five


cocospals wrote:
I have found the book to be extremely difficult to get thru. I am not really seeing any true character development, I want to know more about what motivated them to pursue their chosen fields in college. The flashbacks are really confusing to me.  I would love to learn more about Emily. She seems to always be in the background, that friend who marches to the beat of a different drummer. I want to learn more about her and maybe that does come further on.

 

I agree, the character development is a bit slow in coming. There had to be better ways to get our interest in the characters. The first five chapters were difficult, hopefully the rest won't be
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bookworm_gp
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Re: Chapters One through Five

Just when I start to get attached to a character then the focus switches.

Anyone else have problems with that?

-----------------------------------------------------------

I feel the same. I'm close to the end of the book and I feel like I'm missing huge chunks of the characters lives. And some of the scenarios are so unreal, especially the resolution of Emily's problems (I won't give away what they are).

I did get involved in the story but I'm afraid I'll be disappointed at the end.

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Terrie
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Re: Chapters One through Five


onyx9 wrote:

The thing I didn't like is that the reader was left guessing how she went from smoking impatiently waiting for him to call her a week later to (practically) all of a sudden 'we are engaged'.  To me that is frustrating, I want to know if she finally screwed up the courage to call him or if he finally called her and all that. 


This really surprised me too! I feel this could have been a very interesting "chapter" even if all the minute details were left out...like others, I want to know what happened in between.  Maybe we'll find out later.

 

Can't wait to hear Tuck's explanation of being "behind doors" at the party!  That should be good.  I didn't like Sadie at all at first, but now I'm starting to get interested in her character.  I am also anxious how she will handle knowing that Tuck was "behind doors." Will she tell?  Or just let it play out?  Hopefully, it's not just dropped....

Carpe Diem!
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Terrie
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Re: Chapters One through Five


pandy914 wrote:

 

As a twenty-something, I remember all too well leaving behind the safe, comfortable net of academia, and how terrifying it was to have a full-time job and full-time financial responsibilities.  To navigate these transitions while watching your friends get married and have children adds even more uncertainty, which wreaks havoc on your self-esteem.  Or, at least, it did on mine.  You look back on the picture you had of your mid- to late-twenties when you were an adolescent, and panic when you remember all the things you were sure you'd accomplish by then, and haven't yet.  And this lack of clarity when thinking causes you to rush into things you'd normally avoid.

 


I, too, remember leaving that security - but I was the first of our group to get married and have children - then experience loss of self-esteem in "what I would have done" had I been single.  I watched my friends become successful professionals while my focus was raising children (while still working full time) and thought I was missing something big.

 

My experience shed light for me on what this group is going through. Like Lil, my friends were surprised at my choices and thought I was making a big mistake.  Years later though, after I had an established home and career-and was happy- I learned it was my friends who felt they were missing something because even though they had their careers, they were missing the "home" I had made in my life.

 

I think it's natural at that age to question a friend's path and then question your own. Some will go there own way but those who remain close usually become comfortable with their own choices and support one another.  Hopefully this group will learn to become comfortable with themselves and unquestionably support one another as they grow older as the book continues.  Don't know how far this book will take us into their lives, but I hope to see this transition occcur as they get older..

Carpe Diem!
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m3girl
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Re: Chapters One through Five

Hi,

Now that I finished all five chapters I will tackle the three points for discussion...

The wedding begins the next chapter in the lives of these friends.  Marriage in a way is one of the ways we transition from childhood to adulthood.  It is assumed - but not always the case - that once married, the couple is on their own and no longer supported by their parents.  I think that self sufficiency is really the point that moves you from your childhood to adulthood - single or married.  This can happen at a wide variety of ages and isn't dependent on social status, background, location...  So - what appears to be Lil and Tuck moving from childhood under their parents wings (to a certain extent) to adulthood - really isn't as we learn in a later chapter.  She is moving on from college and I thought that seemed to bother her friends.  The first one to get married of the group usually faces something like this, it's to be expected.

I got a kick out of what I would call the pseudo-feminists -- women's studies and anti-marriage.  Yet - only Emily (sofar) really seems to be on her own and stable.  There is nothing wrong with men, husbands...motherhood - and they can still coexist with feminism, imho.  Equal rights and the advancement of women and women's issues is key to all women - regardless of status.  Still these chicks seem to be eager to find men to support and take care of them - not really feministic, imho.

 

More later.....I'll get off of my soapbox....

Susan 

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KxBurns
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Re: Chapters One through Five


harleybarbie wrote:

In Chapter 4 I realized why Lil did not hang out with her friends while she was dating Tuck, he's a Jerk antd onlythinks of himself; evidence being how he behaves to Lil when he is fired, which I feel he should of been.  I think Sadie also added to his problem by suggesting that he submit the idea for a book about Ed, which he gets an advance for. 

 

Chapter 5 though is my fave with the book opening on the party to celebrate Tucks new book, which is not written yet.  When Sadie goes into the room and catches Caitlin with someone making out, she assumes it is her husband Rob, until she sees him while she is leaving and it dawns on her that Tuck was with Caitlin.  Great ending to 5.  I don't like Tuck and I wonder why Lil is making excuses for him.


 

I agree -- I really enjoyed Chapter Five. Structurally, I think it provides a great book-end to Chapter One, once again bringing the group together at Tuck and Lil's for a celebration about which, as before, most of the friends are somewhat wary.

 

Rakoff does a good job of creating that hazy, too loud party atmosphere. I think the various conversations are realistic little vignettes of sometimes awkward, sometimes random party chatter. And then it ends magnificently with Sadie's sudden burst of clarity through the haze, her realization that the man with Caitlin is Tuck and not Rob. Really well done.

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KxBurns
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Re: Chapters One through Five


insightful wrote:
At first, I also had a hard time with the beginning.  Not knowing if I will enjoy this book.  But it finally came around.  Lil's wedding was a surprise to everyone but I don't think her friends were jealous because she was getting married.  I think it was more a Wow, I thought she said she will never get married! to them so they probably were a little shocked.  Beth definitely had some issues within herself that I felt should have been dealt with before getting involved with Will. 

She probably should have. But it's more realistic that she stumbles headlong into a serious relationship, isn't it? In real life, when we meet a potential romantic partner, we rarely stop to get our issues straightened out  :smileyhappy:

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NancyK
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I agree with everyone who had a lot of trouble getting through the first chapter. I found it hard to read, bogged down with a lot of long sentences, and hard to follow. Chapters 2-5 were much easier for me to read, and more interesting. I thought the wedding represented a big step away from the education/career aspects of the women's lives, which is a huge focus for all of them. I don't necessarily think they agreed with Lil & Tuck getting married, but went along with it and supported her as best they could. I didn't think the sex scene with Will and Beth was too much, but I did find his personality somewhat annoying. He was clearly in charge during the scene. I wasn't surprised that he didn't call Beth, but was not expecting Beth to say that they were engaged. That came out of nowhere, so I guess there might be some explanation somewhere later. Re Tuck: I've never been fired from a job, but Tuck's behavior after he was fired read more like someone who was laid off (which I have experienced). I felt that Rakoff portrayed his range of emotions as very inconsistent, and obviously, his anger at having been fired surely did affect his relationship with Lil. Having said that, I wasn't expecting that he'd be somehow involved with Caitlin.

 

One of things I like most about Rakoff's writing so far is the dialogue. I think she's got the language right and now that we're five chapters into the story, it's easier to identify the women by how they speak.

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krb2g
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I didn't find the first chapter hard to get through, so much, as easy to leave after I finished reading. The first several chapters, in fact, didn't seem to make the book "un-put-down-able"--I found it easy to stop reading at the end of each of the first several chapters. Though, as per the discussion in the Community Room I have stayed up late many nights to finish a book,--and I would add that sometimes books that start slow end up being books that I love.

 

Several people (including Thayer and GSB65) have mentioned that they like or find it interesting that the book starts with a wedding, and I'm wondering if that's part of what makes it so difficult for many of us. Generally, books end with weddings--especially comedies like Pride and Prejudice or anything else Austen wrote, but also epics of the style Rakoff writes in her letter she wants to imitate: Middlemarch, War and Peace, Our Mutual Friend all spring to mind for me. In these books, the weddings represent the restoration of social order (think also: Shakespeare's comedies)--all that was turned asunder by the fiction is righted again. So this strategy of starting with Lil's wedding intrigues me on two levels. First, it seems to upset/play with conventional patterns of fiction--those that build to a wedding. I do like the acknowledgment, one that we don't necessarily get from, say, Pride and Prejudice, that a lot of the interest and work of a relationship come after the wedding (how depressing if your wedding were the high point of your life!). Second, it makes me wonder if there's a second, more fitting pairing coming up later on (as Dorothea first marries Causabon, the old, dry, fool, or Natasha gets engaged to Prince Andrey [who was married to Liza first] before she ends up with Pierre)--and I might admit that Beth and Will's relationship (and quick engagement) makes me wonder the same thing. 

 

I think prizequeen's observations about Rakoff's oblique strategy are right: "I'd like to add another view:  I discovered as I read the book (I've finished it) that I LIKED the fact that I was learning what happened to each character in an oblique manner rather than going through the full story and every detail.  For me, it added to the pleasure of the narrative.  And it isn't inconsistant.  The author uses this technique throughout the book"--but I think that at times this strategy works better for Rakoff than others. I would have liked to read more scenes like the scenes we were getting (for example, more dates between Beth and Will [although not necessarily more sex] or more scenes of Beth pondering their relationship while she's waiting for him to call). I wonder too (someone mentioned how long this book is as it stands) if Rakoff didn't have to cut many scenes to get the book published--because the movement from first date (if you can call that sort of encounter a date) to engagement seemed awfully quick for me too (although that could be a deliberate strategy on Rakoff's part to show Beth's immaturity and especially insecurity (re: Dave and also re: Lil--remember that Will is Tuck's friend, shares Tuck's first name, and lives in Tuck's old apartment).

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bookloverjb85
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Re: Chapters One through Five


GrammiT wrote:

After the first two chapters, I wasn't sure I would even finish the book. However, I have continued & am glad I did as I am enjoying the book much more the further I get into it.


I felt that way too.  It was hard for me to get through the first couple of chapters, but I am definitely enjoying the reading now.

--Jen--

"A house without books is like a room without windows."--Horace Mann
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bookloverjb85
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Re: Chapters One through Five


tanyaTN wrote:
Very frustrated to find Beth engaged with nothing mentioned from the first time they sleep together to announcing their engagement (by the way, without him even present).  I will keep reading though!!:smileyhappy:

I was very frustrated by the engagement as well.  I thought that I missed something, I went back into the other chapters and tried to see if there was any mention about Beth and Will.  Like you said, the fact that he wasn't even there to announce it with her.

--Jen--

"A house without books is like a room without windows."--Horace Mann