Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Frequent Contributor
fordmg
Posts: 546
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five


miller1323 wrote:
As for moments I found most striking--I'm curious as to what others thought of the sex scene.  Altough it did establish Beth as pliable and foolish (atleast for me), did anyone else find it a bit much?

 

I almost put the book down, never to be picked up again, as I read through chapter 2.  I am not interested in a book full of soft porn.  I deceided to get at least through the first 5 chapters, which I have done.  I find Beth an unbeliveable character.  These are people with graduate degrees, moving on to teach the next generation, and they can't make a mature decision to save themselves.   I hope the book gets better soon.

MG

Inspired Correspondent
Bonnie824
Posts: 951
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five


miller1323 wrote:
As for moments I found most striking--I'm curious as to what others thought of the sex scene.  Altough it did establish Beth as pliable and foolish (atleast for me), did anyone else find it a bit much?

 

As distasteful as I found it (for young women) this was actually the scene that made the novel start ringing true and honest to me. I know young women often go alone with things sexually in in relationships that they don't really want or understand. Beth's POV (voice) seemed very real. Up until then I found the whole group annoying. (OK, it is my oldest son's generation, not mine, and I do find their conversations and constant self-evaluation annoying IRL too.)

Bonnie

 

 

 

Contributor
bookclubclassics
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎11-27-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five

I'm glad the discussion has started!  It has been fun to read others' impressions. 

 

My first impressions of Lil's wedding were that we were expected to care about a LOT of minutia regarding the wedding, but hadn't had a chance to get to know Lil yet (or her friends).  I also didn't know who to focus on -- or who to care about -- in the first chapter, which may have made the wedding details seem burdensome.

 

On a positive note, I really like Rakoff's writing style -- I was anxious to get to know the characters better, especially outside of an formal situation like a wedding.

 

The sex scene was interesting in that I was curious to read how Beth and Will would then navigate a relationship that began in such a strange manner.  So, I was disappointed to learn they were engaged without reading the journey to the proposal!  I think if we (the readers) were asked to "endure" that scene, then we should get the benefit of how they "survived" it, too.

kgalles
www.bookclubclassics.com
Correspondent
CJINCA
Posts: 51
Registered: ‎11-28-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five


bookclubclassics wrote:

I'm glad the discussion has started!  It has been fun to read others' impressions. 

 

My first impressions of Lil's wedding were that we were expected to care about a LOT of minutia regarding the wedding, but hadn't had a chance to get to know Lil yet (or her friends).  I also didn't know who to focus on -- or who to care about -- in the first chapter, which may have made the wedding details seem burdensome.

 

On a positive note, I really like Rakoff's writing style -- I was anxious to get to know the characters better, especially outside of an formal situation like a wedding.

 

The sex scene was interesting in that I was curious to read how Beth and Will would then navigate a relationship that began in such a strange manner.  So, I was disappointed to learn they were engaged without reading the journey to the proposal!  I think if we (the readers) were asked to "endure" that scene, then we should get the benefit of how they "survived" it, too.


I agree esp about missing out on how Beth gets engaged to a man who states on the first date, that he doesn't "do" obligations.  Maybe this is something we will get to learn more about in subsequent chapters...but I was a bit disappointed that we didn't get to see that happen ourselves.

 

In general, I find the style of the book a bit choppy -- we are given so much back-story and interpolation, the conversations don't really flow the way it does when old friends get together, at least so far.

Contributor
C-c-a
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎09-07-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five

I thought Lil and Tuck's friends were unsure of the wedding. I think some of it was jealousy and maybe a part of it was fear.

 

 

In regards to the changes that took place since the wedding, the most obvious changes were with Tuck. He loses his job, he is writing a book and  his feelings for Lil are changing.

Inspired Contributor
canterbear
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five

When reading these first chapters I felt a need for more of each characters story and not so much of the flashback type of writing.

 There was so much going on between the start of Lil's wedding and the actual event, that I sort of loss the concept. 

I would have liked to have seen why Lil changed, went from being one of the single friends to considering marriage.

Did she give in to the pressures of her society or to her parents wishes.

What really brought her to this point? 

I did not feel there was enough insight and depth.

 

Since the chapter started out with the wedding, there was not a reason for the reader to be suprised that she chose this path. 

Inspired Contributor
canterbear
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five

I so agree on the Beth and Will scene.

We needed to know why she would even consider having sex with this person and why she would do so in such a drastic way.

And the reader is left out of the outcome of this event.

She leaves his place and then does not hear from him again.  Later, another character is telling us that Beth is marrying Will.

 Well how did we get there? 

Reader 2
harleybarbie
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎01-14-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five


KxBurns wrote:

The novel opens with Lil's unexpected wedding. What does this event represent and how does Lil's marriage impact her group of friends?

 

What do the opening chapters reveal about the main characters as individuals and as members of various groups - families, generations, social classes, etc.? What conflicts are hinted at or exposed? What moments did you find most striking?

 

What changes occur in the months that elapse between the wedding in Chapter One, which takes place in October 1998, and the party Lil and Tuck throw in Chapter Five, in June 1999?

 

(Please keep in mind that this thread is for discussion of the first five chapters ONLY. Do not refer to events that occur later in the book. Thanks!)


 

Chapter 1 was a bit too descriptive about the wedding, which I was not sure how the characters all fit together.  It was easy to see that some of the characters, especially Beth had spent some time away from the rest and did not know the groom, Tuck, even though Lil was a good friend, .  Once I persisted through that 1st chapter though, the story line took off and I have become involved in all their lives.  I do not agree with those that think that the sex scene between Beth and Will was too much. I don't think that Will took advantage of Beth, afterall they were both consenting adults. He was not selfish with his actions, but was pleasing her in a way that Dave never had, even if he could not perform himself.  I think that once Beth realized that this is how you are suppose to love (putting one's needs above your own) she falls in love with Will. 

 

Chapter 4 proved that Tuck is not the man that Lil thinks she married, he is a pretender.

JSS
Contributor
JSS
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎12-03-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five

But doesn't that just seem natural for members of a group that age to have a wide range of feelings when one of them is the "first" to take the huge step of marriage? It just seemed very real and human to me that everyone in the group had different feelings about Lil's getting married. It's the single largest step anyone can take in their lives to demonstrate both their own independence from others AND their willingness to depend on someone at the same time.
"I know not if this earth on which I stand is the core of the universe or if it is but a speck of dust lost in eternity. I know not and I care not. For I know what happiness is possible to me on earth." Ayn Rand
Contributor
Grace2133
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎03-14-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five


canterbear wrote:

I so agree on the Beth and Will scene.

We needed to know why she would even consider having sex with this person and why she would do so in such a drastic way.

And the reader is left out of the outcome of this event.

She leaves his place and then does not hear from him again.  Later, another character is telling us that Beth is marrying Will.

 Well how did we get there? 


I agree. There is so much of that story that is missing. I was flabbergasted when I saw that Will and Beth were engaged when I was just getting over their encounter and was looking forward to seeing how that relationship progressed. I feel a bit left out. I hope the gap is covered in the rest of the book.

Inspired Correspondent
nfam
Posts: 231
Registered: ‎01-08-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five

The wedding seemed to make the friends realize that they were growing up. This created tensions for all of them, but we see it most clearly in Beth. She feels outside, left behind and, I suppose, that's what led to the ridiculous enounter with Will in Chapter 2. I hate to say it, but that chapter felt contrived.

 

Beth's character is pliable. She feels as if the others have been doing exciting things while she's been stagnating in Milwaukee. However, I didn't think it necessary to have a kinky sex scene to demonstrate this. 

Frequent Contributor
maryfrancesa
Posts: 57
Registered: ‎10-29-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five

I believe that Beth went out with Will for several various reasons, one she seems to be in love wth Dave but he does not feel the same way, a reson to masybe make him jealous.  second it seems that all of the girls are jealous of each other, orginally Beth thinks that Will likes Sadie better than her so she goes out with him.  The sexd part was definately  strange and who could believ that she continues to see him.

I thought that all of the characaters were into themselves, self importance, eager to be on their own but resentful of being poor.

                   the story starts out with the wedding, we believe that the characters are close but then no one really knew about Tuck before the wedding.  Did Lil  really suspect that her friends did not really like Tuck so she svoided talking about him and how close they were becoming.  Dis the girls really know each other as well as they thought they did, Lil would never wear a ring like that.

Inspired Contributor
BooksRPam
Posts: 39
Registered: ‎12-05-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five

I feel better that I'm not the only one who had trouble with Chapter 1.  It was so descriptive with so many characters and characters' families before I even had a chance to know who these people were.  Then, as stated by others in this thread, this clicque definitely has a vocabulary and knowledge that goes beyond, I believe, a typical college student.  I applaud Rakoff that she has this wealth of facts, but I'm not sure it's believable that everyone in this group would equally possess this type of genius in the arts.

 

I was really discouraged until I reached the part where there was actual interaction between Beth and Will.  Then I realized, AHA!!!, Joanna Rakoff is an interesting writer.  Therefore, after I finished Chapter 1, I went back and read the entire chapter again and actually appreciated it because I had a sense of who these people were she was describing.  I agree that the book got much better after the first chapter.

 

As far as Beth goes and "the sex scene," I can only hope that something in future chapters will explain to me why she would do something so out of character for a person like her.  Absent father through her childhood so that she's looking for validation and security, so much pent-up anger against Dave that she'll stop at nothing to give herself some type of inner comfort that someone could love her besides Dave?  Maybe the answer is forthcoming.

 

I'm enjoying the book, though am really put out with Tuck and the complete turnaround in his behavior.  I'm already ready for Lil to kick his sorry butt to the curb.  :smileymad:

Pam
Distinguished Wordsmith
aprilh
Posts: 424
Registered: ‎09-25-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five

The first chapter seemed to me, to drag on and on. I felt as if I had randomly opened a book to the middle and started reading without having any back story. I wasn't connecting with any of the characters at that point. I stuck with it though and luckily it got alot better.

I think Lil's friends were unsure how to feel about her marrying Tuck, because they barely knew him. Beth especially.

I'm still surprised about Beth and Will. It seemed on their date that they weren't that interested in each other and then came the sex scene. I was actually worried for Beth at that point. She hardly knew him, how did she know what he was capable of?

 

April
Reader-Moderator
liisa22
Posts: 606
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five

I find myself agreeing with most of you that it was difficult for me to get through the first chapter.  I persevered and and now have finished ( nope no spoilers here).  I found the writing choppy, and had difficulty following through all the back story.  Beth is far too intelligent to have let Will have his way with her the way he did.  Why in the world did allow him to do this? And then find that they have become engaged? 

 

I tend to want more of the 'why did they do that' written, rather than have me sit and wonder.

 

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.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
-Sir Richard Steele

http://bookreviewsbyliisa.blogspot.com/
Correspondent
m3girl
Posts: 194
Registered: ‎03-02-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five

I just started reading last night...so unfortunately I am still working on chapter one.  But instead of waiting until I finish up with chapters one through five I thought I would insert some comments as I worked my way through the chapters.

 

I was amazed at the amount of information that was provided about the characters and their stories even on the first page.  I think that the voice of the narrator is almost one of the main characters - as everyone is viewed from that omniscient POV. 

 

I was impressed at how the scenes transitioned from present to flashbacks - whether long or short - invisibly.  This omniscient POV is quite removed from the characters and presents itself almost as a report or article - until the reception when we get into Beth's head.  This makes me wonder if perhaps she is the main character and not Lil.  Time will tell...

 

Sofar I am quite impressed with the writing, voice and story.  Tonight I will be reading more and commenting more as I go.

 

Susan

Reader-Moderator
liisa22
Posts: 606
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five

Yes, there is no doubt in my mind that Rakoff is indeed an interesting writer! And that Lil should with no regrets dump Tuck out to the curb! hehe 

BooksRPam wrote:

 

 ...

I was really discouraged until I reached the part where there was actual interaction between Beth and Will.  Then I realized, AHA!!!, Joanna Rakoff is an interesting writer.  Therefore, after I finished Chapter 1, I went back and read the entire chapter again and actually appreciated it because I had a sense of who these people were she was describing.  I agree that the book got much better after the first chapter.

 ...  I'm already ready for Lil to kick his sorry butt to the curb.  :smileymad:


 

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
-Sir Richard Steele

http://bookreviewsbyliisa.blogspot.com/
Wordsmith
Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five

In the letter from the author, included with our books, Joanna states, “When I began writing, I had this idea that I wanted, in each chapter, to begin with a somewhat superficial glance at a particular character, then bore further and further into his or her psyche, to that by the end you, the reader, would feel as if you knew him or her inside out.”

 

With this in mind, I felt like the first chapter of the book was the superficial overview of all of the characters.  I got a taste of who they were, how they interacted, and where they fit in society.  Then, beginning in chapter two, we got in depth with the characters, learning about them and their psyches.

 

As for the sex scene between Will and Beth, I found it to be overly detailed for my taste.  As for its purpose in the novel, I agree that it shows Beth’s willingness to be too submissive.  Now that we know that Beth and Will are engaged, and having so closely witnessed their first sexual encounter, I am now dying to know how their sex life is going and whether or not Will has made any progress with his impotency!  Isn’t that terrible of me?!?!  :smileywink:

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Contributor
lizmont2000
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five

The actual wedding itself was so beautiful and poingant that I wish the book had opened with that only, then build up the characters from there. The mothers were definitely annoying!

 

I was disappointed too in the relationship between Beth and Will. Too much information and then not enough! I had a hard time reading about her stupidity to go along with him. Perhaps that is the point--she and Will, neither one seems to know who they are; impulsive and a bit wishy washy. Could make for a decent relationship of shoring up each other, or a disaster waiting to happen.

 

Lil is kicking herself, and saddened about what a failure she feels her relationship (and husban) are. Is she most bothered by what she feels or by what others think of her?

 

The friends are at times aloof and at other times extremely close. Beth wonders why she feels out of the loop, yet she herself does not make an effort to contact any of them!

 

I hope there is more depth in the coming chapters.

 

Frequent Contributor
booksJT
Posts: 108
Registered: ‎11-24-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters One through Five

I think Lil's weddding took everyone by surprise. Because she didn't discuss this, everyone was shocked by her decision. The  parents were overbearing  and should have let them make some decisions on their own. I felt the characters tried not to let their social difference play a part in their friendship.  I also found it interesting that they all stuck by Lil even though they knew little about Tuck. They were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  In the coming chapters everyone has a chance to look at his or her life. Make plans for their future before they get too old to marry and have kids.  I feel that Beth's character rushed into a relationship with Will because of previous failures. Lil character thought the world of  Tuck at this moment because he  just recieved an advance on a book deal.  
Top Kudoed Authors
User Kudos Count
1
1
Users Online
Currently online: 4 members 196 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: