The Reading Group: A Novel (P.S.)

By Elizabeth Noble
Publisher:Harper Paperbacks, (1/1/2005)

Average Rating:
Very Unleashable
4.00 out of 5 (3 Clubie's ratings)

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The Reading Group follows the trials and tribulations of a group of women who meet regularly to read and discuss books.Over the course of a year, each of these women become intertwined, both in the books they read and within each other's lives.

Inspired by a shared desire for conversation, a good book and a glass of wine-Clare, Harriet, Nicole, Polly, and Susan undergo startling revelations and transformations despite their differences in background, age and respective dilemmas.

What starts as a reading group gradually evolves into a forum where the women may express their views through the books they read and grow to become increasingly more open as the bonds of friendship cement.

In The Reading Group, Noble reveals the many complicated paths in life we all face as well as the power and importance of friendship.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
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Nadine's thoughts on "The Reading Group: A Novel (P.S.)"
updated on:5/5/2011

I am loving this book greatly. A must read for all ladies how like romance novels

Very Unleashable

VampVictim's thoughts on "The Reading Group: A Novel (P.S.)"
updated on:8/5/2009

It was okay. I would want to read it but when I picked it up to read I could only read about 20 pgs. and then I would put it down again. I think all the jumping around from one person to the next is what turned me away and would make me want to put the book down.

Unleash it

Shan's thoughts on "The Reading Group: A Novel (P.S.)"
updated on:6/13/2009

I loved this book! It was a fun beach read.


"The Reading Group: A Novel (P.S.)"
By Elizabeth Noble

Average Rating:
Very Unleashable
4.00 out of 5 (3 Clubie's ratings)

The Gentleman
The Gentleman
By Forrest Leo

 General reading guide discussion questions to be used with ANY book your book club or reading group might be discussing.

  • Consider the epigraph by Margaret Atwood: "the real, hidden subject of a book group discussion is the book members themselves." What does each member reveal by her book selection and contribution to the discussion every month? Is it possible to read a novel objectively, without filtering it through the prism of one's own life experiences?

  • As a reader, Harriet says, "I care so much more about the characters women create. And if I don't care, really care, by about page fifty, forget it." If Harriet judges a book by the emotional bonds she forms with the characters, what criteria do the other reading group members use in evaluating a good book? Consider the Harriet-led conversations on male authors, and on discerning a novel's timelessness. Do you agree with Harriet that, when reading classic literature, "you have to be able to apply what you call modern values to it and still find something relevant and pertinent in it?"

  • At the meeting to discuss The Alchemist, Harriet critiques the book saying, "I've heard the same points made more succinctly by Hallmark." As the women argue and analyze the book's relevance to their own lives, do they convince Harriet of the profundity inherent in simple truths?

  • When Polly, Susan, Harriet, and Nicole discuss Clare's infertility, what do they reveal about changing cultural attitudes toward pregnancy?

  • Compare Tim and Harriet's marriage to Jack and Polly's relationship. Are the crises that arise in each pairing similar? What happens when Tim acts on the lyrics, "If you love someone, set them free?" Does Polly do the same? How is Tim and Polly's situation different from Nicole's? How is it possible to differentiate between a love that needs to be set free, and a love that has to end?

  • Why does Susan think of motherhood as, "the steel ribbons that bind us -- Mary and Clare, me and Mum, Polly and Cressida, Cressida and her unborn baby?" How is the strength of each woman's bond tested? What does Susan mean when she says, "we're all mothers, aren't we? Different stages maybe, different problems, but the love is the same. The instinct for self-sacrifice is the same." Do you agree that motherhood is intrinsic to each stage of womanhood?

  • Why does Rob become uncomfortable and embarrassed when Tim reveals the details of his marriage? Why does he think, "It might be okay for women to talk about that stuff?" What seems to be missing from the male characters' relationships with each other? As a "man's woman" with not a "single girlfriend left from school or university," do you think Nicole was handicapped in her relationship with Gavin? How has the "feminine cocoon" of The Reading Group strengthened Nicole? Where, do you suppose, the author might stand on the nature vs. nurture debate on gender and emotional bonding?

  • How would you describe Susan's relationship with her sister Margaret? Are the ties that bind real sisters more prone to jealousy and misunderstanding of female friendship? How does the revelation of Alice's enormous act of generosity and sister-love affect Susan and Margaret?

  • When Jack picks up baby Spencer for the first time, he felt, "something instinctive, quite beyond his control." And when Spencer smiles, Jack "felt as if he'd won first prize. He wanted to make him smile again." Cressida's pregnancy seriously jeopardized her future, almost destroyed Polly's chance for marriage and love a second time around, and leaves Polly with a baby to raise during her retirement years. But in the face of these massive complications what simple, powerful truth does baby Spencer represent? Conversely, was Nicole's decision to deny the truth an act of courage or selfishness, given her changed circumstances?

  • As a member of the "sandwich generation," Susan cares for her children as well as for her Alzheimers afflicted mother. Polly raised her daughter Cressida to maturity, but now cares for her daughter's child, as well. Alice rescues her sister, and keeps her secret to her grave. Are all the women in The Reading Group caretakers, of one sort or another? Where does their unhesitating instinct for self-sacrifice come from? How does The Reading Group help the women sort through their complicated lives?

  • How does Elizabeth Noble's fictional reading group resemble your own? Has your group become more friendly over book discussions?

  • Clubie Submitted Discussion Questions
    Have a good question? If your a clubie add one now.
    From Publishers Weekly
    Perfect indulgence for the eponymous set—or pandering to an anticipated audience? Or maybe both? As the London Evening Standard put it, "The blurb has [the author] down as a simple Surrey housewife who knocked this out between the Hoovering and the hot sex, but further investigation reveals her to be a veteran of book marketing married to the head of Time Warner UK." Go figure! Well, either way, this U.K. bestseller is a frothy page-turner that dissects the relationships, desires and discoveries of five English women, all members of a book club. Over the course of a year, the women read 12 novels (including AtonementRebecca and The Alchemist) and, through their playful but intimate discussions (few of which revolve around the books), they bond closely while coping with such matters as a philandering husband, a mother with dementia, a pregnant but unmarried daughter, an infertility crisis, a wedding and a funeral. It's a testament to Noble's characterizations and plotting that the novel is not overwhelming, despite its numerous (perhaps too many) points of view, complicated backstories and interweaving contemporary crises. Light but never flip, this is funny, contemplative and touching reading, and the group's familiar book choices allow readers to feel as if they're part of the gang, too, as they race to the end, eager to find out what happens, why it does and what it all means. 
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 

    From Booklist
    Women's reading groups form, dissolve, reform. Some have the lives of mayflies, while others boast many years' existence. Nicole and Harriet, with lives and husbands that are very different (Nicole's is a womanizer), are cofounders of their group, which includes single-mom Polly, Polly's pal Susan, and Clare, a midwife. These Englishwomen come together for literary discussions but, as bonds form over the years, stay for friendship. Once-bitten Polly is still ambivalent about Jack's marriage proposal, despite Susan's reminder that, at 15 years, it has endured three times longer than Polly's erstwhile marriage. Though married to rock-solid Roger, Susan has her hands full because her mom seems to be suffering memory lapses. And certainly Harriet loves her husband, Tim, but now the love of her life, Charles, is marrying another. Meanwhile, infertile Clare bathes and rocks newborns, only to have their rightful mothers claim them. Noble keeps engagement high as her characters connect and interconnect. Since the Briticisms are usually decipherable in context, this entertaining read is very accessible for Americans. Whitney Scott
    Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved 

    "...this is funny, contemplative and touching reading..." -- Publishers Weekly

    "A hot, soapy bubble bath of a novel. Go ahead and sink in." -- Entertainment Weekly

    "A thoroughly accomplished debut novel which embraces a wide range of contemporary issues. Fresh and sharp. Funny and sad." -- Carole Matthews, author of For Better, for Worse

    "Fast paced and funny, this is women’s fiction is worth staying up past your bedtime." -- Library Journal

    "Noble keeps engagement high as her characters connect and interconnect...this entertaining read is very accessible." -- Booklist

    "[Elizabeth Noble is a] reading club goddess." -- St. Paul Pioneer Press 

    "A lively, witty novel that touches on themes of friendship and redemptive power of art". (--Choice (London) )

    "[Elizabeth Noble is a] reading club goddess." (St. Paul Pioneer Press )

    "Fast paced and funny, this is women's fiction is worth staying up past your bedtime." (Library Journal )

    "Noble keeps engagement high as her characters connect and interconnect...this entertaining read is very accessible." (Booklist )

    "A hot, soapy bubble bath of a novel. Go ahead and sink in." (Entertainment Weekly )

    "A thoroughly accomplished debut novel which embraces a wide range of contemporary issues. Fresh and sharp. Funny and sad." (Carole Matthews, author of For Better, for Worse )

    "Tremendous amounts of female bonding, some witty byplay and very well-considered characters." (Seattle Times )

    "...this is funny, contemplative and touching reading..." (Publishers Weekly ) 
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    Elizabeth Noble is the author of the internationally bestselling novels The Reading GroupThe Friendship Test, and Alphabet Weekends. She lives with her husband and their two daughters in New York City.

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