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The Interestings: A Novel Paperback – March 25, 2014


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade; Reprint edition (March 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594632340
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594632341
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.3 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,601 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2013: This knowing, generous and slyly sly new novel follows a group of teenagers who meet at a summer camp for artsy teens in 1974 and survive as friends through the competitions and realities of growing up. At its heart is Jules (nee Julie, she changes it that first summer to seem more sophisticated) Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress who comes to realize she’s got more creative temperament than talent; her almost boyfriend Ethan Figman, the true genius in the bunch (he’s a cartoonist); musician Jonah Bay, son of a famous Baez-ish folksinger; and the Wolf siblings, Ash and Goodman, attractive and mysterious. How these five circle each other, come together and break apart, makes for plenty of hilarious scenes and plenty of heartbreaking ones, too. A compelling coming of age story about five privileged kids, this is also a pitch-perfect tale about a particular generation and the era that spawned it. --Sara Nelson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

In that self-obsessed, hyperaware, and mordantly ironic way of privileged teens, Ethan, Jonah, Cathy, Ash, and her brother Goodman dub themselves “The Interestings” when they reconvene at their trendy creative-arts summer camp in the Berkshire Mountains. Jules, née Julie, Jacobson is both flattered and flabbergasted to be admitted into their little enclave, where she uses her sardonic wit to compensate for a lack of beauty, money, or social graces. To her surprise, golden-girl Ash adopts her as her best friend, while the dorky but brilliant Ethan becomes mired in unrequited love. After a tragedy affects two of their members in very different ways, the remaining group slogs their way into adulthood, embarking upon careers and relationships with varying degrees of success and satisfaction. Despite being rooted in a wealth of pop-cultural references, from Nixon’s resignation to the Moonies to Wall Street scandals and even the aftermath of 9/11, Wolitzer’s clique of narcissistic friends turns out to be not so interesting after all. --Carol Haggas --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

I am a fiction writer who, like most writers, is happiest when I'm working. I have somewhat erratic work habits, and can go for weeks without producing much, then suddenly find myself in a whirlwind of productivity that lasts a long time and occupies most of my waking hours. Between those productive bouts I tend to read a lot, mostly contemporary novels, an activity that serves as a kind of re-fueling that I seem to need. I love being excited and keyed up by other people's novels; the best of them remind me of how powerful fiction can be.

Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book - makes a great summer read.
Amazon Customer
The book protrayed the characters well but at time focused too much on how they felt and not enough on a story line so I became bored sometimes.
Marilyn Mitchener
It is a great, very well written story with developed and realistic seeming characters.
caroline hollings

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

407 of 428 people found the following review helpful By Mary Lins TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was persuaded by a group of real friends, who are also avid readers, that I should give the latest Meg Wolitzer novel, "The Interestings", a go even though I'd been disappointed by her last novel. I'm glad I listened to them! "The Interestings" is indeed interesting - AND well written, thoughtful and both witty and touching.

I can make the case that "The Interestings" can be considered a historical novel of the past 4 decades; I call that "recent" history because I can remember it! Reading about the 1980s for example, brought back memories of:

- the first cases of AIDS and how bewildering that was
- the first cordless phones
- mugger-full and dirty NYC
- the first soapy taste of the now ubiquitous herb cilantro
- the Moonies
- "Women's Lib" being the term to describe feminism

This novel is full of such memories because it's about six friends who meet in a summer camp for artistic kids in the 70s and it follows their lives into the present, touching on each decade as they make their way to adulthood. The novel moves quickly and is never boring or slow as many things happen to each of these people as they face their lives. It felt voyeuristic - in a good way - to follow their ups and downs. I could relate because I also "grew up" at the same time. There is a bit of jumping around in time and significant foreshadowing which I found to be an effective story-telling device here.

There are many "themes" in the novel; friendship, the nature of art, the meaning of "talent", loss of innocence, sexual attraction, and the relationship between art and money, to name a few. But I think the theme that interested ME the most, was the theme of envy and it's ugly and corrosive nature.
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165 of 184 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Baird VINE VOICE on April 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Let me get this out of the way right now: this is a tremendous book. I have a couple of criticisms, which I will get to, but hot damn. Meg Wolitzer has written an astonishingly clever, detailed novel, and the utmost respect must be given to that. Remember this book, because it will definitely be popping up again when people begin compiling best-of lists for 2013.

But let's talk about the novel, shall we? In 1974, six teenagers meet at a summer camp for the arts and jokingly refer to themselves as The Interestings--exactly the kind of ironic, half-kidding-half-hopeful joke that captivates them at that moment in time. The six run the gamut of the art world: a dancer, a musician, an animator; an actress who wants to further the cause of feminism in theater, a wannabe architect, and a comedic actress. The latter character, Jules, forms the center of our story. Significantly, she's also the outlier. Jules isn't an artist when she ends up at Camp Spirit-in-the-Woods. It's unclear how she found her way to a camp for artists when there were so many different options out there (one of those woefully nitpicky details that nevertheless irked me); she simply wanted an escape from her family and the grief they all feel after the abrupt death of her father from cancer. What's important is that she's an outsider in this world when we first meet her, and she very much discovers herself once she has been thrust into The Interestings. She doesn't feel like she belongs but she desperately wants to. She discovers an ability to make people laugh and parlays it into a comical role in a camp play--a moment that overwhelms her with the sense that she has arrived, that she has found her life's calling.
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242 of 281 people found the following review helpful By moose_of_many_waters VINE VOICE on March 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Probably more than any book I've read in the past couple of years, The Interestings made me think about what I like in a novel. There is, in terms of mechanics, a lot to admire here. The sentences flow well, the writer has a command of the subject matter, and has sympathy for the most of the main characters she creates. Meg Wolitzer is a pro at what she does.

But then there are the subjects being addressed, the characters, and the tone. Personally, I can't connect to the people described here. I'm not an East Coaster. I'm not super-liberal. I'm not plugged into popular culture, even the stuff that is regarded as high-brow television. If you're a boomer who loves things like The Daily Show, reads the Style section of the NY Times, and reads profiles in the New Yorker of movers and shakers in the business and art world, you'll probably find The Interestings appealing.

Wolitzer has written a sprawling, decades-long tale of six East Coast kids who grew up in the 1970s. Five of the kids come from wealthy homes full of strivers. The sixth is the main character in this novel and is a scholarship kid enamored of the privilege of the others. In a lot of ways, The Interestings is a much better version of another novel I read recently, The Marriage Plot. They are both Jane Austen-like in their approach. Both have third person narrators who are not at all shy about telling exactly what is going on inside the heads of the principal characters. Mental illness plays a significant role in both stories. In The Interestings there is the welcome bonus of some quiet, droll humor.

If you like traditional novels in a modern setting that are focused on relationships between friends, The Interestings will likely be a worthwhile read. If you have an aversion to East Coast culture and gravitate toward novels with big ideas, I'd stay away.
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