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The Fiction Class

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  870 ratings  ·  223 reviews
A witty, honest, and hugely entertaining story for anyone who loves books, or has a difficult mother. And, let's face it, that's practically everybody . . .

On paper, Arabella Hicks seems more than qualified to teach her fiction class on the Upper West Side: she's a writer herself; she's passionate about books; she's even named after the heroine in a Georgette Heyer novel
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 26th 2008 by Plume (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,596)
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I just finished this book and I am not quite sure what to say. I ended it with a WOW... that was an awesome book. It was exceptionally written, descriptive and inspirational. I have thought about writing and this inspired me(I majored in Journalism and still dabble in writing)

Here is where my dilemma comes. I really enjoyed the book, yet it was not riveting. It did not enthrall me and capture my attention. I enjoyed it each time I picked it up, I loved the ending; yet I could set it down for da
Not totally dreadful, but very, very (VERY!) predictable, with a protagonist who manages to be both dull and annoying. A lot of time focuses on her relationship with her mother, however you never get why this is so difficult. I was going to round this up to three stars (it is a 2.5 if I ever saw one), but then I recalled the whole thread of the book focused on the possible romance with an old man. Yes, old, old, old, could she even imagine being with someone so old? When his age was revealed, he ...more
BJ Rose
Arabella has been writing her own novel for 7 years, but is stuck on writing an ending. She is currently teaching an adult fiction-writing class, but resents the attitudes and what she has projected as the life styles of her students. Her mother is suffering from advanced Parkinson's, and Arabella visits her for 2 hours every week, but resents the fact that this visit is on the same day as her fiction class. In fact, Arabella harbors a lot of resentment - basically, she feels very sorry for hers ...more
I liked this first Susan Breen book that I have read. I found the central character, Arabella, to be likeable and sympathetic. The relationship that develops between Arabella and her writing class was touching. This book was not primarily a romance, but it did contain a romance. I was disappointed that Chuck, the man Arabella becomes involved with, was not fleshed out a little more as a character. He is fifty three years old, and although we know a bit about his work history and that he has been ...more
As an aspiring writer, I liked this book because I found the writing exercises that Arabella gives to her students very interesting and helpful. That said, the Arabella character annoyed me (her constant battle with her mom seemed a bit forced) Maybe because I have a great relationship with my mom, but I wasn't able to relate to her at all, and half the time i found myself wanting to slap her because she seemed so self-involved and needy.

The ending (what really happened with her dad) was a surp
Scottsdale Public Library
If you enjoy beautiful writing; if you've ever wanted to BE a writer; if you have a difficult mother; this is the book for you!

-Candy V.-
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rhonda Filipan
Here's the deal: Arabella Hicks is a "wanna-be" novelist who teaches a fiction-writing class in an adult education program once a week. Afterwards, she visits her dying mother, Vera, in the nursing home. Chapter by chapter, the novel chronicles these two events in Arabella's life through alternating, dual story lines. Readers soon learn that Arabella has had a difficult, non-communicative relationship with her mother for years. However, in the course of the novel and through the weekly nursing-h ...more
Not without its entertaining qualities, much like reading the book equivalent of the corny romcom you'd watch on TBS on a rainy Sunday afternoon and find yourself simultaneously engaged by the story and laughing at the obvious story line. But let's face it, don't you always get to the end of that movie and go, I know I didn't have anything else to do, but did I really just waste my entire afternoon on that?
This book started out with a really interesting concept, but crashed and burned with an unlikable lead character and badly written can you write about a woman in a nursing home but not know the difference between Medicare and Medicaid? This is the only book I've ever read with a death scene of a lead character that didn't evoke any emotion in me. Skip this one!
I put this book down halfway through. I didn't like the way it was written. There was a novel within the novel and I didn't get it. I never connected with any of the characters either.
You shouldn't write a book about a fiction class if you don't actually know how to write fiction, unless you're going for irony.
*Boo* *Hiss*

Totally forgettable.
Pretty pointless and stupid
This is a well crafted, meaningful, and entertaining story. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys books, who wants to learn more about how a fiction writer crafts a story and/or who aspires to write his/her own story some day!

It was clearly written by a writing teacher (the author teaches writing). The main story was about a teacher leading a "Fiction Class" - i.e. how to write fiction. Each seection of the book was divided into different lessons of the day. I enjoyed the lessons, the writi
The book told a nice story, but I feel like my enjoyment hung mostly on the mother's short story, which was woven between chapters. The main plot was a little flat and typical, and reminded me of a handful of other books. I never felt like I was close to the main character, Arabella, nor did I ever fully understand her thoughts, actions, and motives. In teaching her fiction workshop, she made rash judgments on her students based on appearances and made up stereotypical back stories (which I feel ...more
Arabella Hicks tenses as she arrives at her Wednesday afternoon fiction class. Maybe she shouldn't even be teaching this class. She's been working on a novel for the past 7 years and doesn't know how it should end. Last week one of her students, Pam, ran out of class when asked to read. She's not sure how she feels about Chuck, early retired and attractive, who never does the assignments. She doesn't want to read Conrad's assignment. He has taken her class before and always writes about transsex ...more
This was a fluff piece - a perfect bathtub book to retreat to in the hectic and hellacious first weeks of a school year. The plot was terribly predictable for the most part, and some developments were just downright cheesy - particularly due to the heavy-handed nature of any writing directly related to the plot. When the story turned to Arabella's relationship with her dying mother and the ideas of a long, drawn out grief process, the plot (and protagonist) was at its most compelling. Chuck coul ...more
I don't like Arabella. And when you don't like the main character of a story, it is difficult to enjoy the book. On page 90 Breen writes ,"If you write about someone - a woman, say - who is unsympathetic, do you risk losing the reader?" My answer is most likely yes, and especially in this case. Arabella is a grumpy, frumpy, uncaring, cold person. She has no social connections in the beginning of the story which says a lot. Her relationship with her mother - her only family member alive is weak a ...more
Casia Courtier
Honestly, I didn't care for this book. The characters were static and I couldn't get into the protagonist. Her love life seemed without real meaning or depth. That said, there is one character I love and I believe she is the real main character; Vera Hicks.

Vera Hicks is Arabella's elderly mother who lives in a nursing home and decides to write her own story. She is inspired by her daughter and her daughter's class. We see her as slightly difficult, but not as bitter as Arabella likes to perceiv
I knew nothing about this book; picked it up when Borders was going out of business and I was buying everything that seemed to be a good deal so I've had the book for a number of years.
I enjoyed the information on how to write fiction although I'm sure it wouldn't be a lot of help to a real author but to those of us who just dabble or daydream about writing, it was interesting.
However, the best part of the novel for me was the relationship between the mother and daughter and the way it was resol
Julie Hedlund
The most interesting parts of this book were the lessons the main character, Arabella, gave to her class on fiction writing. Having said that, give me Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird" or Stephen King's "On Writing" any day of the week if I want to learn more about the craft of writing. Of all the characters in the book, the only ones I really liked were Arabella and her mother. Likewise, the story of the two of them working out their relationship as she approaches death in a nursing home was engagin ...more
Feb 19, 2013 Therese rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People with mothers, people who enjoy fiction, writers
The story of Arabella Hicks, a single middle-aged writer who teaches a fiction class in New York City. Apart from writing and teaching, Arabella's main preoccupation is with her elderly mother, whose health is failing and with whom she has a difficult relationship. To her surprise, she discovers her mother always wanted to be a writer, and begins to share with her mother some of the lessons she's teaching - and learning from - her students.

I was drawn to the premise of the book not only because
Jill Elizabeth
The Fiction Class is a story about Arabella Hicks (poor dear – blame her mother for her name; she does), a frustrated writer who has been struggling with her novel – and her mother – forever, and who teaches a weekly fiction writing class for authors-to-be. The book is organized along with the class syllabus; the story shifts between chapters devoted to Arabella’s class and her personal life. Eventually, of course, the two overlap. Much hilarity ensues – along with much frustration, poignancy, a ...more
Sasha Martinez
It was something familiar–I’ve been a Creative Writing major for five years now, and I’ve been in fiction workshops in three of those five years; I want to teach fiction some time after I (finally) graduate. Yes, this familiarity raised my expectations–will the fiction live up to the reality I’ve been witness to? Is there actual writing involved? Is there actual “fiction learning” involved? Will it give us a peek behind the poetics and politics of the strange notion that is a writing class? Stil ...more
Jul 06, 2008 Garnette rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Elizabeth, Mary, Meg
Raced through Breen's book with great interest. Terrific book, not only was the story sustaining but the author clearly is a reader after my own tastes. And the book is a workshop in writing fiction itself. There are lesson sheets at the end of each chapter. And she's a magical thinker, just my cup of tea. And this is a knock-off of one of my lifelong favorites, Georgette Heyer. So the book adds up to great summer Sunday afternoon reading. Just like Clueless and Emma; like Thrones and Dominions ...more
If you're a writer, aspiring to become a writer, or are in the middle somewhere, you'll probably like this book and story much more than I did. I found it to be a bit boring and slow. None of the characters were truly that likeable and there was no depth or information to any of them. Arabella, the lead character, whom was also the teacher, wasn't that likeable either. She was either making fun of her students ideas or telling them that they wouldn't become famous writers, but that they should s ...more
Aug 26, 2008 Catharine rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women
Recommended to Catharine by: Cheryl Cory
This book explores the relationship between a 38 year-old daughter, and her mother. It approaches this subject through a fiction class that the main character (the daughter) teaches. It was a fun book to read, one of the reasons being that you get a free lesson in writing fiction while you're reading the novel. Many of the chapters begin with the writing assignment for the week.
I liked one of the author's views on fiction:
"...there is so much in life that can go wrong. The books lining the wa
Sep 25, 2008 Anastasia rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Sandra
Shelves: 2008, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Goodreads Librari...: Mistake in Author's name 5 41 Feb 19, 2013 08:11AM  
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“She had been trying to be honest with him, thinking her honesty would be winsome and that he would come to rescue her family, forgetting what she later learned as a writer: that to be honest is to open yourself up to people thinking you're crazy.” 4 likes
“Her descriptions will be incandescent, perfect little nuggets of phraseology, and there will probably be lots of sex in her writing - the clinical type of sex with labias and clitorises and tongues going everywhere.” 1 likes
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