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Our Kind

3.09 of 5 stars 3.09  ·  rating details  ·  297 ratings  ·  43 reviews
From the award-winning author of The Gardens of Kyoto comes this witty and incisive novel about the lives and attitudes of a group of women -- once country-club housewives; today divorced, independent, and breaking the rules.

In Our Kind, Kate Walbert masterfully conveys the dreams and reality of a group of women who came into the quick rush of adulthood, marriage, and ch

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Paperback, 208 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by Scribner (first published March 23rd 2004)
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Cloud Atlas by David MitchellJonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna ClarkeThe Plot Against America by Philip RothThe Amateur Marriage by Anne TylerGilead by Marilynne Robinson
New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2004
63rd out of 100 books — 28 voters
Then We Came to the End by Joshua FerrisThe Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey EugenidesAnthem by Ayn RandWe, the Drowned by Carsten JensenHooked by John Franc
First Person Plural
7th out of 17 books — 3 voters


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Community Reviews

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Angela
Our Kind tells the story of a group of women, either divorced or widowed, in their post-marriage lives. They share their histories, their memories of marriage and children, and we witness what it is they are doing with their lives now—which, they feel, isn't much of anything at all.

I wasn't overly impressed with it, to be honest. I admire Walbert's writing style—I suspect that's the reason it was a National Book Award finalist (I have high expectations of this award). But the story itself didn't
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Donna Girouard
The message here would appear to be that a woman has (had?) two choices: she can either work on herself / her education and end up alone OR she can marry and have children, meanwhile becoming shallow and "fuzzy-minded." The final twenty or so pages rather sums this up.
Are we supposed to like these women?? They are total wastes of space, with their pools and their booze and their cigarettes (that they crush under their heels and leave for - who? the pool boy, perhaps? - to pick up).
And their dau
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Alisa
It's not that this book was bad, it just wasn't my kind of book. I knew that when I started it, but for some reason that didn't stop me. Maybe because it was short? Maybe because I wanted to make sure what I thought my tastes are, actually are my tastes? Actually, the one in the middle about the women in the hospice reading Virginia Woolf was good. What is it about the terminally ill that just won't let them stay on-topic? I think this is the only book I've read in the first-person plural. Becau ...more
Connie
I'm not really sure what I thought of this novel. It's the story of several aging women who socialize with one another, being "of a certain age," but they carefully avoid any kind of meaningful intimacy. I think the distance that the author places between her characters and the readers is part of that lack. Also, if you are careful, you can trace each of the women's vulnerability through her path of disappointment, carefully masked behind cocktails and motherhood. I would like very much to discu ...more
Gauri Khanolkar
This book is a quick read and has some beautiful writing, and in many ways is reminiscent of Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, which I recently read, in that it is a collection of stories which jump back and forth in time about a group of people reflecting on their lives and themes of regret and disappointment as characters progress into old age are explored. However, this collection of stories is very disjointed while the characters are hardly ever fleshed out and all seem to merge into one ...more
Laura
It was a story of women who married and had children in the '50's and now divorced were again trying to have control of their lives and destinies. The story is told in a series of reflections on the past and how they came to where they are now. It is also told through present day events and the boldness they feel given the past to act on their feelings. A nice story but not a grabber.
Diane Ramirez
The inner lives of suburbia women can, in the hands of some authors, be so dark, so evocative/disturbing, so hearbreaking -- all good! I have little patience for art that doesn't give me pain and/or humor and/or inspiration and/or love. This book fits into the Anne Tyler BORING category. I hung in there hoping it would pay off but -- nope. Sometimes escaping into others' lives can be such a drag.
Cordelia
The stories in the book jumped around in time and place the way my brain roves at 3am--not something I would think of inflicting on others. There seemed to be no need to keep the charachters straight, which made it hard to feel any connection to their story. I had trouble convincing myself to keep reading, and probably would not have done so if the book hadn't been so short.
Jane
A "library grab" that struck me as interesting, partly because it seemed to deal with women who were of my mother and mother-in-law's generation. I haven't read any of Kate Walbert's writing before this, but found her spare style to be fairly effective. The reader is left to infer much about the characters and action, but having something left to one's imagination isn't always a negative and, in fact, caused me (in the case of this series of short stories that nevertheless left an impression of ...more
Holly
2009 #25: This book was just... not very good. It provides snapshots of women's lives post-divorce in suburban America. The problem was that I just didn't care about any of the characters, so I didn't care about what happened to them. If you are thinking of reading this, I would say don't bother.
Kevin Brown
This is listed as a novel, but it's really connected short stories that form an overarching narrative. There aren't many of these works (Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout is another really good one), but I always enjoy them. Another interesting approach is that Walbert writes this from the first person plural point of view, which is becoming more popular these days (Julie Otsuka's The Buddha in the Attic uses this approach well). In Walbert's novel, she writes about women who seem superficial ...more
Sarah
Not crazy about this book or its structure -- series of anecdotes with recurring themes and characters. Not enough character development. I would give it 2.5 stars if I could.
Rebecca Gibson
It's disappointing that so many people have marked this two stars or less - I know first person plural is not the easiest perspective to write or read in, but it is perfect for the story Walbert is telling. At times it wanders and waffles and there is basically no plot, I will say that, but that isn't a failing, because Walbert isn't hugely concerned with plot to begin with. Instead she paints a picture of a group of women burned out, potential squandered, abandoned by their children, trapped in ...more
Meredith
Did not work for me at all. Stopped after 80 pages. Too scattered and vague for my taste.
Philtrum
This slim volume (195pp) is a “novel in stories” which means it’s ten (related) stories about a group of rich, American, east coast, widows/divorcees who are now, in their 60s/70s, looking back (rather selfishly) at the (rather self-centred) lives they led in the 1950s and 1960s (when their children were young and they spent their days around at each others’ houses, smoking and drinking), and also ruminating on the empty lives they lead now (husbands dead or divorced, daughters grown into the mo ...more
Christine
With its unusal plural narrator ("we"), Walbert made an excellent choice of the group of women who would be narrating this novel: post-divorce women in the late 1950s, held together by their mutual social restrictions. Walbert pinpoints the moment in history that is the cusp of the feminist movement and personifies it in these women: the yearning for more than is their lot in life.


One of Walbert’s most impressive achievements with this book is the way that it both pillories these women of privil
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Kerfe
I didn't like this book at first. And I never got all the characters sorted out. But Walbert's writing pulls and remains in the mind. Each story could stand on its own, but the impact accumulates as each new telling reveals more.

These are women, I think, of my mother's generation, or maybe a bit younger, of a time when marriage and family were givens for a woman's life, brides of the 1950's. And yet...they seemed to be distorted versions of the women and families I knew, perhaps because their li
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Giles Gonnsen
Well, I am not the target audience. A book about privileged old ladies with nothing much to do in their old age. Not much of a plot, just a meandering narrative about some old meddling biddies. There are better books out there.
Annemariem
Not as good as I thought it would be. The book is made up of seperate stories with the same main characters. It was all a bit too abstract for me. The overall tone a bit too distant for my taste.
Kaethe
I'm not normally a big fan of connected stories, but I quite enjoyed this look into the lives of women mid-century. I think it might appeal to fans of Mad Men.
Kit
I really liked Kate Walbert's "A Short History of Women" so was excited to find this one from 2004. Not quite as excellent. Well written and you can see her style emerging, but I had difficulty feeling sympathy or connection with the setting and the characters--a bunch of essentially aimless, helpless wives and mothers in the rich New York suburbs in the mid 20th century. Sad times for these pre-feminist women in so many ways--interesting exercise to try to write stories about them, but just isn ...more
Meghan
Not my favorite novel by the author. Those would be Gardens of Kyoto and A Short History of Women. However, this novel is a great reflection of a generation of women often overlooked beyond their role as homemaker. The novel looks at what has become of the 1950s housewife once she is divorced and her children have grown. It's a novel of reflection and self discovery nicely concluded as Walbert always does. Poetic prose that will also entertain. Don't let this be your introduction to Walbert but ...more
LauraLu
Am I aging? Am I middle aged? Am I in store for the life the women of this book have led? Sure, I have led a life with boundaries beyond marriage and motherhood. But I am married... and who knows what's to come. In old age I hope I will have prepared myself for better uses of idle time than they did. I hope I will get there with a sense of worth and purpose more in tact that these women had. And most of all I hope I still have my best friends with me like they did.
Debbie Phillips
I found this book so hard to follow and to relate to. it was just bizarre. :/
Pam
I READ "Off Keck Road", "Easter Parade" and "Our Kind" sequentially as recommended by Nancy Pearl. It was an interesting contrast of various authors telling of the lives of groups of woman some who were friends and some were family members. I enjoyed the experiment and think it enhanced each book to have the contrast with the others.
Austen to Zafón
It was okay, but I had a hard time liking or relating to the characters. They seemed unremittingly selfish and distant. Maybe I just run in different crowds, but I don't know anybody like that so it seemed unrealistic and not very engaging. The prose itself was well done, but I had a hard time motivating myself to finish it.
Tayla
I wasn't sure about this book of short stories at the beginning, but if you stick with it you'll be glad you did. I loved the insight into these women's lives. The smallest details shed light on their personalities and motivations. Very well written.
Jennifer
Very short book. A finalist for the 2004 National Book Award. And yet, I just didn't get it. Short stories about a group of divorcees who have been friends for life and been through it all together. For me, it just wasn't all that interesting.
Janet
I loved this collection of stories which gives the reader a wonderful, intimate view of the lives of women of the 50's. While their stories are rather sad, you can also just begin to feel the changes of things to come, ie, the women's movement.
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Book Talk: Required reading for Susan's lecture - Our Kind 9 3 May 24, 2012 05:31AM  
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