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Inspired Correspondent
bookloverjb85
Posts: 168
Registered: ‎10-12-2007
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Re: Chapters One through Five


mv5ocean wrote:

I agree Lil getting married kind of threw them all for a loop.....if she who would NEVER marry is doing it what is going to happen to them they are thinking. And also I believe there is certainly a level of jealousy that someone who wouldn't marry is actually winning the lottery before they do.


I can completely understand how the group of friends feels about Lil getting married.  I can relate to their age and situation.  I feel that I am surrounded by people I graduated with and friends the same age as me getting married.  It's a weird feeling seeing that surrounding you and you not doing it as well.  I will admit that there is a little bit of jealousy as well.

--Jen--

"A house without books is like a room without windows."--Horace Mann
Contributor
CDover1978
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎02-12-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I see the marriage as Lil's first step away from the lifestyle that she & her friends had in college... Her way of "growing up & out".  I'm sure her friends want her to be happy, but I don't blame them for being a little skeptical since they had only met Tuck maybe once or twice (and not for long periods of time) and they were only dating for 9 months before marrying one another.

 

Everyone's lives have changed and gone in different directions.  Lil & Tuck have the not-so-perfect marriage (I really believe that he married her because he's territorial and she married him because she didn't have anything else to do), Sadie & Tal form a relationship, Dave works more on his band, and Beth starts a relationship with Will (a man with a lot of drama & baggage from his past).  You see in Chapter 5 that everyone's lives are not all that they seem cracked up to be.  Sadie feels like Tal's new acting job in L.A. is going to tear their relationship apart, he has obviously become distant, but how distant.  Beth is now engaged and I don't think Dave really likes the idea.  And you can assume one of two things at the end of the Chapter when Sadie sees Caitlin & Tuck leave the bedroom together, that "A" he's cheating on Lil with Caitlin (which wouldn't be such a far fetch considering he thinks that she should be more like her) or "B" it was just a coincidence... I'm leaning more towards "A".

Courtney
Correspondent
bookowlie
Posts: 177
Registered: ‎04-15-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

     I found the first chapter a little too jam-packed.  The book gets better after the first chapter, but the first chapter was too full of too many characters.   I had to reread a few sections just to keep the characters straight.  My first thought was that, once this book gets published, people may not want to buy it if they read part of the first chapter to get a sense of whether they want to buy it.  Just my opinion.

    

Contributor
Skelly7645
Posts: 20
Registered: ‎01-15-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I have at times waded through the first five chapters.  Maybe because I was not able to read some everyday, I have at times had a hard time really understanding all the characters that have been introduced.

 

I was really bothered by the sexual encounter between Beth and Will. Perhaps this is what the author was hoping for, but I found it disturbing, and quite honestly I wish we knew more about why, all of a sudden Beth is now engaged to WIll. I thought I must have dosed off and missed something, but reading the other postings, I realize that we are still all waiting to learn more about that.

 

At this point, I can't say I'm thrilled with this book, but I always finish every book I start and I am hopefully that as I read along I will form a better readers attachment to some of the characters.

 

 

Distinguished Correspondent
biljounc63
Posts: 189
Registered: ‎11-02-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five


bookloverjb85 wrote:

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.


I too found that I'm getting more into the book after the first chaper. I really think that there were too many charaters brought in at once al with thier own stories that took awhile to absorb. I really prefer short and to the point chapters.

 

Starting to read chapters 6-9 for tomorrows discussions as soon as I finish posting here. 

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison ~

"Reading lets you visit the world of another"
Inspired Contributor
mapleann
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters One through Five

Like so many other members that have discussed the difficulty of getting through the first chapter, I too felt the curlicue descriptions used to set the setting of the novel overdone. Once the reader could understand the setting, then the writing style smoothed-out. If it were not for this group, I would have not returned to the book after the first couple of pages--a shame, I am quite enjoying the book now.

 

I have also discovered what I am missing in the book for it to grab me, warmth. I feel like I am reading an epic tragedy. To really set the generation, I am the same age as the characters, I feel like I am watching the Guns N' Roses's November Rain video, which is an epic tragedy as far as music videos go. What I want, is to chuckle or smile while I am reading the book. A little LOL and a little more OMG than just the Beth and Will's one scene. I don't want to pity the characters, I want to feel the characters. A little bit of warmth would do that for me.

Reader 2
nstock00
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters One through Five

The sex scene was a bit much.  It did show how vunerable Beth is and how she just lets other people shape her life.  She does not control her life she lets events and people control her.
New User
bethany1966
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎11-25-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

Finally, I am able to log in!  I was having some techinical difficulty!  I have been chomping at the bit to get my two cents in on this book!  I have wanted to like this book for about 7 chapters now.  I don't dislike it per say, but I find that I am plodding through it with no real interest in what happens from one page to the next.  I cannot connect with the characters on any level and it just seems to ramble on and on.  I really want to get excited about A Fortunate Age, but I just can't muster the enthusiasm.  Darn it!  I am fighting picking up a more enjoyable book every night! 

 

Are there others who are just getting through it and not really finding the enjoyment they had hoped for?

 

Beth

New User
minutiae
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎11-19-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I am also just plodding along with little interest in what happens to the characters.  This is surprising to me because I believe that I fit the book's target demographic pretty well--late 20s, Manhattan resident, post-graduate degree; these characters could be my peers.

 

Quite honestly, I've tried to keep an open mind about each character and to find traits that I identify with, but then something happens to make me dislike the character.  Additionally, I've found some of the situations simply bizarre (Beth/Will sex scene) or improbable (Tuck/Lil & Rob/Caitlin mutual aquaintance).

 

As a New Yorker, I'm very familiar with the places mentioned in the book, but I don't understand how these transplants can be so judgmental about certain things, such as Beth's living arrangement in Astoria, Queens (the trite assessment of the outer boroughs as boring, save certain neighborhoods of Brooklyn).  I actually laughed out loud when the narrator mentioned the girls' love of a downtown cafe with a "purposefully unhip New England clam-shack decor" (are they at the Grey Dog?); I'm sorry to burst your bubble, girls, but that decor isn't an accident--it's a gimmick.  Perhaps if they weren't so busy feeling sorry for themselves they would have noticed that.

 

 

Frequent Contributor
bookworm_gp
Posts: 58
Registered: ‎12-04-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

"I have also discovered what I am missing in the book for it to grab me, warmth. I feel like I am reading an epic tragedy. "

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

 

Ditto. I find that I either dislike the character (Caitlin, Dave, Tuck) or feel sorry for them (Lil, Emily, Sadie).

Some conflict and pathos makes an interesting story but this one needs some relief. There is not one character I'd befriend.

 

 
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Correspondent
HannibalCat
Posts: 238
Registered: ‎10-25-2006
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Re: Chapters One through Five


katknit wrote:

Just a couple of thoughts stemming from my own reading and the posts that have appeared here so far.

 

These characters don't strike me as immature at all. They have been in college/grad school and are only now having to cope with "real" life.  Marriage does not confer sudden maturity on anyone, I'm afraid. I've been married happily with children for ages now, but I can remember some of the silly things I thought during our first 5 years or so. I think this book is capturing its characters right after their preparation for life has ended and as they are feeling their ways toward building the lives they think they want. As all of us must do, they will need to reassess and discard mistaken ideas along the way. 

 

That said, I agree that the prose is overly wordy and detailed. Sometimes less is more, but I'm waiting to finish the second half before deciding on its merits.


I didn't go to college until later in life,so I can't  speak as you do. However, your thoughts ring true. I did not think of the characters as you have described them, but I can see them as you interpret them. How insightful of you. It helps me get a different and more open attitude toward them. I had thought they were a bunch of nincompoops. I'll give them a chance now.

 

Correspondent
momgee
Posts: 584
Registered: ‎07-24-2007
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Re: Chapters One through Five

 Yes, yes and yes! I slogged through the first 5 chapters and then threw in the towel! I started reading People of the Book and finished it in 2 days and now onto something else that I am sure will be much more enjoyable. There are too many really good books out there.

 

 

 


bethany1966 wrote:

Finally, I am able to log in!  I was having some techinical difficulty!  I have been chomping at the bit to get my two cents in on this book!  I have wanted to like this book for about 7 chapters now.  I don't dislike it per say, but I find that I am plodding through it with no real interest in what happens from one page to the next.  I cannot connect with the characters on any level and it just seems to ramble on and on.  I really want to get excited about A Fortunate Age, but I just can't muster the enthusiasm.  Darn it!  I am fighting picking up a more enjoyable book every night! 

 

Are there others who are just getting through it and not really finding the enjoyment they had hoped for?

 

Beth


 

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
Groucho Marx
Inspired Contributor
sgregg88
Posts: 48
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters One through Five


liisa22 wrote:

 

 

However, and I am going to go back and do some personal research for this, I keep thinking as I read that this has some tendencies  toward 'Gatsby'.  I think that it is only the feeling of group.  As I said, I am going to grab one of my copies of Gatsby and see ie read it to sort that out. It is a continuing thought, so I have to do it.


This is an interesting comparision - I might do the same!

RDH
New User
RDH
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎12-04-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I haven't thrown in the towel yet...but I am waiting for it to grip me.  I keep thinking once I get through a few more chapters the preliminaries will be done with and a plot will develop.  I rarely give a "ho-hum" book more than 5 chapters, but I am going to try on this one.
Correspondent
m3girl
Posts: 194
Registered: ‎03-02-2007
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Re: Chapters One through Five

One more comment on chapters 1-5....and then I will move on...

I think that these characters are rather realistic.  They were friends in college when they had lots in common.  Now five years after graduation, some have achieved more success in their careers and personal lives than others.  There are jealousies across all of them - as there is competition between them.  This is realistic not just for individuals in their twenties.

I think they think they know more than they do - and isn't that the case for all of us in our twenties...thirties...etc.  I get a kick out of them because of this characteristic.

I do think that the women are fooling themselves - primarily Lil, Beth and Caitlin (although that is more in ch6 - sorry) about their independence.  They all seem to be somewhat dependent on either parents and/or boyfriends/spouces far more than they should be - or at least they should be working to achieve more independence - if in fact they want to live what they preach.

I like some of them far more than others - for example - I don't like Beth much at all.  We are getting to know Lil better and I think I might just end up feeling sorry for her and I look forward to getting to know Sadie and Emily better.  The author took a risk in introducing us to Beth first - some would put the book down because they don't like her and can't relate to her.  But not me...I will continue on....and...it's getting better!

 

Susan

Inspired Contributor
sgregg88
Posts: 48
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters One through Five


bonereader wrote:

I agree with other readers that I had trouble with chapter 1. For someone unsavvy with the NYC references, I had trouble following some of the characters commentaries regarding where they lived and stereotypes of those areas. At the very beginning, I felt the author was trying too hard to impress us with all the culture and learning of the main characters. Some of the sentence constructs were too complicated. I reference one entire paragraph on page 3 that consists of only one sentence! HOWEVER, I became happily surprised as I read on. The author seemed to settle into a more comfortable style, and I really started to connect withthe characters and become invested in them.

 


I agree with your thoughts about the sentence structure of the first chapter. It felt very stilted, forced and abrupt. Over the next few chapters, this slowly ebbs away. I can see the analogy of the type of writing to the character development, but if this novel had been on the shelf in a bookstore, and I had read the the first chapter, I would not have been intrigued enough to buy the book and continue.

 

Shelby

Inspired Contributor
no4daughter
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎10-15-2007
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I agree with many others who had difficulty getting through these first five chapters.  Starting with chapter 4, I have become more interested in the characters and remain hopeful that this will continue.  I think that I had issues with the author going off on different tangents about a completely different subject that that did not hold my interest.  Because of this, I had a hard time keeping the various characters straight.  Given the many lengthy "asides" in these first few chapters, I was very suprised to learn as I began chapter four how much the relationship between Will and Beth had progressed while I was busy reading about other things that didn't even seem to matter to the story.     
Contributor
Jennie77
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎10-09-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five


LibraryGirlReads wrote:

Although I get the feeling that we are supposed to understand that the friends were close in college, they really do not seem to have strong relationships when we first meet them at Lil's wedding.  They seem to be a bit out of touch with each other, only brought together by the unexpected wedding.

 

Lil's wedding seems to be a major shift in the friends' lives signifying their increasing journey into adulthood.  Each person in attendence seems to have their own agenda and their is tension between the mothers and daughters.

 

The sex scene between Beth and Will bothered me quite a bit.  Seriously, who just takes off their blouse because some guy that she met twice told her to?  It was hard for me to understand why she would simply listen to his instructions and go along with that on their first date.  I was even more disturbed that she stayed with him after being so obviously upset with the situation.  Then to hear that they are engaged without understanding how their relationship developed past that situation was also unnerving.

 

I found some of the writing to be a bit choppy.  As an example, when the friends are sitting in the cafe and then Lil is remembering the day that Tuck lost his job.  The memory/flashback was so long that I got caught up in it and then felt wrenched back to the cafe scene, which I'd completely forgotten about.  The transitions between current scenes and the flashbacks were sometimes hard to follow when the flashback was too long or seemed to go too far off topic.

 

So far the book reminds me a bit of the Morningside Heights books by Cheryl Mendelson.


 

LibraryGirl,

 

I agree with what you are saying...I too get the feeling that we are supposed to know that the friends were "close" in college, but one thing that bothered me right away was that at the point where the story starts, it appears that they don't really "know" each other at all. 

 

The sex scene was weird I thought.  Not that I can't imagine someone doing the same thing, but because I can imagine someone doing the very same thing just because he/she can't come up with a good reason why he/she shouldn't.  And that was kind of sad to me... But, since it is fiction, and not real life (and thankfully not my life), I decided it had more to do with Beth's angst over whatever happened or is still happening in her head about Dave and who knows what else.  I would just think that at her age, she should know better (if it were a real story, we'd be about the same age)... 

 

I think that there are numerous spots where the writing is choppy and I kind of compare it to feeling like I dozed off and woke up with the feeling that I missed something while I was dozing.  I then find myself going back to make sure that I didn't just skip whole paragraphs.  I find it disturbing and yet in a strange way, it is why I have kept reading.  I keep getting the feeling that something is happening here and that I need to go along for the ride.  I am a little frustrated that the book is taking longer than books I normally read, and that I am almost forcing myself to continue, but I am hopeful that it will all be worth it in the end.  

 

 

Inspired Contributor
sgregg88
Posts: 48
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters One through Five


lhecht wrote:

 

 

Unlike some of the other readers, I did not find Beth's behavior (her sexual encounter with Will) to be very surprising, maybe because I came of age in the 1970s.  By today's standards we are expected to avoid this kind of partnering (safety, health, morality), but it nevertheless happens.  And, Beth met this person through her network of friends, which gives a sense of safety (though obviously a false sense), and as others have already pointed out, Beth was feeling alone and discarded, which I think is often at the root of women's willingness to consent to unplanned sex with relative strangers.


lhecht,

 

Thanks for sharing this point of view - I didn't feel that this encounter was unexpected for the character or the times, but you have put it very well in this quote.

 

Shelby

Inspired Contributor
sgregg88
Posts: 48
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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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 really great insight into Beth and makes a lot of sense!

 

 

Shelby