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The Reading Group
Elizabeth Noble
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The Reading Group

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  5,070 ratings  ·  587 reviews
A bestseller in the UK, THE READING GROUP is about a group of women who meet regularly to read and discuss books, and how their lives become intertwined, both with the books they read and with each other's lives.

What starts out as a good idea born from a glass of wine and the need to socialize, turns into much more. Over the span of a year, Clare, Harriet, Nicole, Polly a...more
Paperback, 429 pages
Published 2005 by HaperCollins (first published January 1st 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I really need something light and fluffy now, but this book is giving me ADD. I just hope it turns out to be better than "Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons"...

Update: OK -- now I must rant.

Complaint #1: I have nothing against middle-aged or any other kind of chick lit. However, I feel that chick lit by definition should be both light and short. This book was neither. I found the process of reading it slow, and the book was way longer than it needed to be.

Complaint #2: This author tried to take...more
It did take a bit for me to get into this book, but once I did, I became very invested in the characters. The characters of the book are of all ages and at different stages in their life. I liked that aspect, and that the issues they dealt with were so different.

The book also made me want to be a part of a reading group and read all the books that they discussed.
Hilary G
Ex Bookworm group review:

I tried to like this book, but I didn't. I tried not to be prejudiced against the sort of women who live in Surrey and who have the luxury of enough money and time to agonise at length about how miserable they are, but I was. I think this was Elizabeth Noble's failure not mine. I wasn't the one to keep mentioning Agas. If "Surrey women" are portrayed as caricatures, as cardboard cut outs, you can't blame me for not caring a damn about them. And I didn't. I didn't care a...more
Carol Vuillemenot
I enjoy reading stories from a feminist view. This novel is written by an English author in an English setting, but it could have been an American setting without any problem. Five women meet monthly to discuss one book each month. These five women are of different ages, background, and contrasting dilemmas -- transform themselves through the shared community of a book group and become a forum for each of the women's views, expressed initially by the book. As the months pass, these women's lives...more
Feb 09, 2009 Kass rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: British lovers of predictable, unfinished, boring reads
Recommended to Kass by: Book club
Read this one for, of all things, a book club. It's about several women who form a book club and follows each of their lives through a year of book clubs meetings and much personal drama.

I had a hard time reading and finishing it because it's just no mytype of book. It's British Chick Lit, and well, now that I'm married and a mom I just have a hard time relating. Then again, most of the characters were married moms so you'd think I could relate to at least one. The problem was I couldn't relate...more
Once I got into this "chic lit" novel, it kept me interested. The quibble I have is that all the women in the novel are either a) mothers or b) soon-to-be mothers. The one character who doesn't have children (but, of course, she wants to) is banished to helping children at an orphanage in Roumania. Come on. Not all women want or have children. It would have been nice to read a novel that didn't make the assumption that all women do.
Jun 03, 2010 Karen rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: could-not-finish
Oh, I so wanted to just love this book! There was even a point, once I could keep the various characters and spouses straight without having to refer to the author's "cheat sheet", where I started to care about some of them and looked forward to how their stories each unfolded. But that was short-lived. At page 216, I had to make a decision to either suck it up and finish the book, or cut my losses. Frankly, I couldn't bear another 200 pages. It just didn't matter to me how things turned out, I...more
My biggest issue with this book is that Miss Noble took it upon herself to give away some pretty big spoilers from the books that are discussed in the reading group. So if you have any desire to read any of the books on the list (which I did) and don't like spoilers (I don't). Don't pick this book up until you've read them. And yes, I know that this is a book about a book club, but I've read three other books about book clubs and the other three authors managed to have thier characters have very...more
My opinions on this book changed as I read it. At first, there were too many characters to keep straight in my head. Fortunately there is a cheat sheet at the beginning of the book that helped a lot. The layout of the book bothered me in the beginning also. It seemed like really long chapters with few clear stopping places and choppy stories. After a while I got used to changing story lines and could see how it benefits the story. I also realized that the choppiness created many stopping places,...more
May 12, 2008 BoekenTrol rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to BoekenTrol by: Found it in the library
Shelves: stories-of-life
I was interested by the book, because the text on the back side of the cover intrigued me.

The book itself was good, but for me not more than the 3 stars I gave it initially.
Somehow, in the course of the story, it became more and more predictable. The daughter of one having an affair with and having the baby of another friend that is unwantedly childless is one.
But, if it is a book about LIFE, why does there have to be a happy or good ending to everything in this book? I think that is too const...more
Izetta Autumn
I would have said simply, that this is a book best for a summer read, when you've run out of the books that are "serious literature," and that it would be an escape. There are a few laugh out loud moments - a wife desiring that her husband be shanked while he waits outside a gas station bathroom for her. But the other jokes, I don't think are actually intended to be funny - like the way grown womyn over 35 behave and the now cliche dramatization of harried housewives of a certain means.

Let me s...more
First, this was written by a Britsh author... she uses the word leant instead of leaned and other interesting British grammar.That bugged me at first, but then I got used to it.

OK, I really wasn't expecting much from this book. I mean, just look at the cover. It really looks ridiculous! I've read some other reviews that complained that this book took cliches to the next level, but I really didn't feel that way. For some reason this book gripped me and I kept reading. I wasn't looking for somethi...more
This book took me forever to finish. It was such a slow read for me. I enjoyed the stories, but there were so many characters right off the bat that I had a hard time keeping them all straight. Fortunately there is a character guide in the front, so that helped.

I enjoyed all the subplots. I think that it is a very cleverly written book. It was interesting to read about their reviews of the books that they chose for their book club. There were several books that I'd like to read because of their...more
Yawn. Snore. I kept waiting for this book to get more interesting. It did not. The one character I was most interested in was shuffled to the back of the book and forgotten about. Yawn indeed.
Echt de moeite waard om te lezen, leest vlot, is ontroerend.
Christine Blachford
Plot: The loves and lives of a group of women who get together once a month to discuss their book of choice, and get together more frequently to discuss their families. Lots of different situations, lots of twists and turns along the way, but most importantly, a happy ending.

Characters: There’s Harriet who is clever but unsatisfied, Nicole who’s dealing with a straying husband, Polly who’s daughter is about to become a mom herself and Susan who is losing hers.

Style Of Writing: Really, really, fo...more
Ich habe dieses Buch gerne gelesen und war gefangen in den Geschichten der völlig verschiedenen Frauen. Jede hat ein eigenes Päckchen zu tragen, doch gemeinsam schaffen sie es, auch größere Krisen zu umschiffen. Es geht um Liebe und Betrug, um glückliche und zerstörte Ehen, um Mütter und Kinder und vor allem um Freundschaft.
Das Buch liest sich leicht und flüssig, der Sprachstil ist angenehm und umgangssprachlich – eben so, wie Frauen zwischen zwanzig und fünfzig reden. Die verschiedenen Charakte...more
A decent enough read - thank goodness for the character list in the front because I had to refer to it regularly to keep all these women straight - and by the end I actually felt fond of them, which makes it even more disappointing that on the next to last page of this long & not particularly compelling book (which was fine) the women in the one of the women - with NO rebuttal - suggests that to be feminist means "shaving my head, wearing dungarees and quoting Germain Greer." I felt disguste...more
Nope. Any book that lists its characters either on the back or within the first few pages tells me it's a badly written book that doesn't do much to differentiate between the characters. I was right.

The book presumes to be about a group of women and their various family members, partners, etc. and the books that they read throughout the year. Sadly, it's really more about their personal lives and dramas and less about the books. It was like reading a soap opera, sigh. It could not hold my attent...more
I want to write a nice review of this book, because I really did enjoy reading it. But the more I think about it, the worse it becomes. At the end of the day, I felt so frustrated reading this book with the abrupt switches between characters - I found myself just settling in and finally getting to know a character and suddenly I'd be scrambling to catch up with some other character. It was confusing at times, and incredibly frustrating. This chopping and changing has meant that many things seeme...more
Having recently joined a book club, this book caught my eye. I enjoyed the way the story unfolded person by person but overall felt like way too much drama was taking place. Granted, this is a made up set of circumstances and the reader knows from the beginning it would span one year in the lives of the book club participants. What an exhausting year!

I liked the writing, which generally flowed well but once in a while was a little bit awkward on account of British English references. I liked it...more
Amanda Birdwell
For what it (probably) is -- chick lit -- I have to say, I really liked this book. I liked that it touched on two of the experiences that I've found most isolating in the past year, miscarriage and strokes, in a way that seemed to suggest that these experiences don't have to be quarantined. In some ways, I think, women's literature is a lot less sanitized than is Real Literature. I have the edge of a thought about the establishment of selfhood and agency and the way that physical catastrophe (de...more
Andrea Guy
I'm glad I don't know any of these women. This book was hard for me to finish, and I love chick lit, no matter what age the chick's are.

These women were depressing and they made it hard for me to want to continue reading. Polly has a daughter who gets pregnant by an older man who happens to be the husband of one of the other Reading Group members.

Harriet thinks she married for the wrong reasons...and isn't sure she wants to stay married to Tim, who is an absolute sweety.

Clare is the wife of the...more
This book was entertaining enough, but I don't think I would have finished it if it hadn't been the only book I brought on vacation recently. The issues the characters faced were huge (infertility, sickness and death of loved ones, infidelity, pregnancies, marriages struggling and falling apart) but they somehow felt trite and unimportant the way they were written. Nothing ever felt as 'big' as it should have. And although I loved the idea of the reading group itself and hoped that the book choi...more
Overall, this was a pretty mediocre book; a nice, lengthy time-filler, but not much more than that. Though the idea seemed interesting (a group of women reading books that relate to their lives), there wasn't much actual book discussion, and Noble didn't tie in the women's lives with the books very convincingly. Occasionally a vague connection would be hinting at, but the book group, in the end, seemed more of an excuse to write about the women than a main feature of the book. And the women wer...more
The book was ok, I just couldn't get into the characters. One had college age kids and a mom in a nursing home. A very shallow person. One was a rich trophy wife who eventually leaves her cheating husband after getting pregnant to save her marriage. One was upper middle class housewife who could have been a very funny and touching character if she wasn't so whiney. I don't like cleaning waaa, I don't like having kids all the time I need freedom boo fricken whoo. Another was a mom of older childr...more
This one took me a bit to get into. With all the different characters and their own stories playing out in the book it was hard at times to keep it all straight. As soon as I was getting into one character it switched up with another. That was probably my biggest complaint with it. Then understanding all of the English dialogue was a bit of a headache.
I wish it hadn't taken me so long to get into the book because I really enjoyed the ending. I loved how the book spanned one whole year and makes...more
This book was the April book club book. I had always wanted to read something by Elizabeth Noble. The Reading Group was her debut.

Nicole and Harriet decide to start a reading group in January. Harriet is a not so happy house wife, but is she really as unhappy as she seems? Nicole loves her husband and her family but does he love her? Their group includes other members Claire, Mary, Susan, and Polly. This story takes place through their lives and the book they read. This book is set agai...more
I thought this would be interesting and a little bit different. As Im in a reading group I was intrigued to see how the members would be portrayed.

Sadly for me the book discussions and the reading group meetings themselves do not fill many pages in this book. It is mainly what happens to each member in between meetings and therefore it could have been a group of any description. Unfortunately there is very little of interest that does happen to the members and what does is all very predictable....more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
(1)literature & fiction

Elizabeth Noble was born in High Wycombe, Bucks, and now lives in New York with her husband and two daughters. She studied English at Oxford University and after graduating embarked on a career in publishing before taking up writing full time. She is the author of seven novels, The Rea...more
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