Captivating and intense epic

THE INTERESTINGS BY MEG WOLITZER

In short, I couldn’t leave this book alone. From the first page I was drawn deeply into the world of the Interestings – perhaps even a little too much! For the week that I was reading this exhilarating novel I felt completely absorbed in its unfolding drama to the point that I lay awake worrying about some of the characters and their actions. Sad, I know!

In the summer of 1974, six talented teenagers sit together at summer camp drinking vodka, smoking weed, being ironic and vowing to always be interesting. From there we follow the lives of Jules, Jonah, Ethan, Ash, Cathy and Goodman over the next few decades as the hopes and dreams they had that summer unravel, some slowly, some spectacularly.

Envy, depression, talent, loss, disappearance and disappointment put their friendships under intense strain.

Wolitzer’s writing is as compelling as I’ve ever read. This really is a “one more chapter then bed” kind of book. It feels massive – like it tackles everything that happens in life. The themes are big, epic and sprawling but it’s the real human moments, the touching scenes that stay with you more than the major events.

The failures, tragedies and mistakes that the six experience will be recognisable, sometimes painfully familiar, to many readers which are what made The Interestings feel so real to me.

I loved the initial 1970s backdrop and the social and cultural commentary as their lives moved on. For me, all the best books have this. I like to know and feel exactly where I am in time as I’m reading.

Our protagonist Jules is such a weak person but Wolitzer writes her strongly with remarkably precise and superb prose. I loved Dennis, Jules’ husband. I worried for him the most and felt protective of him and desperately wanted his life to work out.

By the end of this great novel I felt exhausted, like I had lived the life and times of six people.

The story will stay with me for a long time yet.

The Interestings is just brilliant. It’s about life, it’s about everyone and I’d recommend it to anyone who loves a big, proper engrossing novel.

SOUTHSEA BOOKWORM RATING 9.5/10

Notes on the author – Meg Wolitzer

  • She has written nine novels including The Uncoupling; The Ten-Year Nap; The Position; and The Wife
  • She is also the author of a novel for young readers, The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman
  • Meg is married with two sons and lives in New York City
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