By Meg Wolitzer
(Riverhead Books, Paperback, 9781594632341, 538pp.)
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
List Price: $17.00*
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"A victory . . . "The Interestings "secures Wolitzer's place among the best novelists of her generation. . . . She's every bit as literary as Franzen or Eugenides. But the very human moments in her work hit you harder than the big ideas. This isn't women's fiction. It's everyone's."--"Entertainment Weekly "(A)
The "New York Times"-bestselling novel by Meg Wolitzer that has been called "genius" ("The Chicago Tribune"), "wonderful" ("Vanity Fair"), "ambitious" ("San Francisco Chronicle"), and a "page-turner" ("Cosmopolitan"), which "The New York Times Book Review "says is "among the ranks of books like Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" and Jeffrey Eugenides "The Marriage Plot.""
The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In "The Interestings," Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.
The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules's now-married best friends, become shockingly successful--true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.
Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, "The Interestings" explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.
- Think about how talent is presented in the book. In your opinion, is it something you are born with or something you work hard to achieve? What is Meg Wolitzer saying about early talent? How is it important to future success? What roles do money and class play in fostering talent? Think about Jules and Ash. How does money influence the trajectories of their lives?