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This might not be news to anyone (the book was a huge hit in 1963), but The Group is one of the most incisive and compassionate novels I’ve read in a long time. The “group” in question is made up of six Vassar girlfriends, fresh from college, whom we follow through all the great milestones—unrequited love, marriage, childbirth, adultery, divorce, and finally death. McCarthy is such a funny writer, and yet she also has a great amount of sympathy and affection for the same characters she’s poking fun at. My absolutely favorite thing, though, is how by the end of the novel, all these unique, contradictory, and sometimes just-plain-wrong perspectives make up a perfect picture of a time, a place, and a friendship.— From Lillian
Written with a trenchant, sardonic edge, The Group is a dazzlingly outspoken novel and a captivating look at the social history of America between two world wars.
Mary McCarthy’s most celebrated novel follows the lives of eight Vassar graduates, known simply to their classmates as “the group.” An eclectic mix of personalities and upbringings, they meet a week after graduation to watch Kay Strong get married. After the ceremony, the women begin their adult lives—traveling to Europe, tackling the worlds of nursing and publishing, and finding love and heartbreak in the streets of New York City. Through the years, some of the friends grow apart and some become entangled in each other's affairs, but all vow not to become like their mothers and fathers. It is only when one of them passes away that they all come back together again to mourn the loss of a friend, a confidante, and most importantly, a member of the group.