Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble

November 26th, 2008 by Debbie's World of Books

I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars.  I really enjoyed reading it.

5 women form a book club and through out the year they read several books and become close friends.  The club is made up of Clare who has gone through numerous miscarriages and has not been able to have any children successfully, Harriet who is convinced she is not in love with her husband, Nicole whose husband is a chronic adulterer, Polly who is considering getting remarried and winds up with a 19 year old pregnant daughter and Susan whose mother is slowly deteriorating mentally.

Stop here if you don’t want any spoilers.

Claire and her husband, Elliot, are slowly becoming estranged as the number of miscarriages becomes too much for their marriage.  This leads to Elliot having an affair with a women that turns out to be Polly’s daughter, Cressida.   Cressida becomes pregnant and lets everyone assume the father is her boyfriend that was away at college and tells them they have broken up so he doesn’t have to know about the baby.  When Elliot finds out Cressida is pregnant he admits to Claire about the affair.  Claire quits the book club not able to bear seeing the other women again.  In the end she decides to go to Romania as a part of one of those relief groups and turns out to be really happy there.

Polly at first wants Cressida to get an abortion because she had kids early in life and felt there was so much she missed out on.  She doesn’t want her daughter to have to miss out on all those opportunities as well.  Cressida refuses and wants to have the baby.  Polly eventually comes around and decides that she wants to raise Cressida’s baby, Spencer, after he is born and Cressida can go away for college.  She can visit the baby on weekends and holidays.  This causes problems in her engagement to Jack because he never wanted kids.  At first he leaves but ends up not being able to stay away from Polly.  When he finally meets Spencer he falls in love with him and he and Polly end up getting married.  Cressida is enjoying her time away at college and the bond between her and Polly grows stronger after Spencer’s birth.  Elliot comes to visit Spender regularly but Cressida points out that they don’t belong together.  Elliot was looking to Cressida for comfort from his marriage to Claire.  He finally agrees.

Susan is Polly’s best friend.  Her mother starts suffering from mini-strokes that eventually destroy her memory and ability to care for herself.  Susan finally comes to terms that she can no longer care for her mother and has to put her in a nursing home.  Susan’s estranged sister, Margaret, gets angry at Susan for doing so but doesn’t stay in England  to help and instead returns back to her home in Australia.  Eventually their mother ends up passing away.  Margaret returns for the funeral and after initially being a real bitch to Susan they comes to terms with each other and start to form their sistership.  While cleaning out their mother’s things they find a letter from their mother to the two of them.  It turns out she wasn’t really Susan’s mom.  Susan’s mom was actually her sister who died a few weeks after she was born.  When Susan was born her mom made her sister promise that if anything ever happened to her she would take care of Susan.  So after her mom dies her sister and husband take Susan in and raise her as their own daughter.

Harriet is married to Tim and at the beginning of the book she receives an invitation to her ex-boyfriend’s, Charles, wedding.  He was the one she thought of as her true love that didn’t work out but I guess she was still hoping something would happen between them even though she was married.  She is resenting Tim who is practically the perfect husband and keeps thinking the grass is greener on the other side.  She almost ends up having an affair but couldn’t bring herself to do it.  In the end Tim decides he has to move out of the house because he can no longer live like this.  He tells Harriet he keeps waiting for her to leave him and if she doesn’t love him the way he deserves to be loved then eventually she will find somoene whom she does love.  His leaving wakes Harriet up and makes her realize that she really does love Tim and he is everything she wanted.  She ends up asking him to return which he does and they end up living happily ever after.

Nicole is Harriet’s best friend and her husband, Gavin, keeps cheating on her.   Each time he apologizes saying it won’t happen again.  She takes him back again after his most recent transgression.  In apology he arranges a weekend trip to Venice and Nicole gets pregnant.  She was hoping the pregnancy would make Gavin be faithful but before they even leave Venice she finds him in bed with another woman.  After actually catching them in bed she returns home and packs up his stuff and moves it out of the house.  She decides she can’t handle raising the new baby and despite Harriet’s arguments she decides to have an abortion.  After the abortion she spirals into a deep depression and can’t believe she did it.   With Harriet’s help she finally comes to term with what she has done and gives her to the strength to remain strong and divorce Gavin.

Honestly I thought Nicole’s situation was the most interesting.  I can’t believe she wanted to get pregnant thinking that would make Gavin stay faithful.  That was one of the dumbest things I could think of.  Then I can’t believe she had the abortion.  Believe me I’m all for pro choice but she purposely became pregnant and I think she should have accepted the responsibility of the baby.  It’s so hard to imagine living with the thought of aborting a baby that physically had no problems.  I can understand if there were serious health issues but not because you are distraught over your cheating husband.

I felt bad for Claire.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to try to get pregnant and constantly lose the baby.  I know when I was pregnant I loved the baby even before she was born so to have that and then to lose them over and over would just be too much.  I know Tim was suffering as well but in the end he did end up with a son that Claire would most likely never have.

I had a hard time accepting Cressida’s and Polly’s decision to handle Spencer the way they did.  I know I am in a better position when we had our daughter but the thought of leaving my baby with my parents and only seeing her maybe on weekends or on holidays is too painful.  I wouldn’t want to miss all milestones like rolling over, crawling, walking, etc.  Although I guess if you can’t give your baby a good life it is better to have someone else who can take care of them but it’s still hard to wrap my mind around.

Posted in 4 Star Books, Books

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