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The Thinking Reed

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  142 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Isabelle, a wealthy American widow, arrives in France to restart her life and discovers she has her choice of eligible suitors. Torn between a placid liaison with a southerner and a tortuous affair with a Frenchman, Isabelle's plans suddenly take an unexpected turn that will ultimately lead her to a love that will force her to reconsider the implications of her affluent ...more
Paperback, 431 pages
Published March 5th 1985 by Penguin Books (first published 1936)
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She is a satirist and a critic really,I think, and a pretty good one at times. Though I found this suffered a little from thin characterization and a narrative which I found unable really to care much about, she still managed to keep me reading and, at times, completely enthralled (in particular the casino scene about 3/4 of the way through). I can imagine many readers would enjoy this one, particularly those fans of Jane Austen, the Brontes and E.M Forster...For me, however, it was a little ...more
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit
Features of West's writing familiar to me from Black Lamb and Grey Falcon are present here, albeit in a fictional story about a wealthy woman defining her own personal characteristics against the characters of the men she's loved. Sometimes these tics get a bit tedious, as in the extended natural descriptions (which, here, tend to read as filler), unusually articulate dialogue, and moral ruminations. Whether the book passes for interesting with you will probably depend on how well you can take ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-books
Sometimes I have this little mental background program running: How do I rate/review this? I was all over the map on this one. I even hit a point - well in - "should I finish it?" But that was brief. I am compelled to warn you, even to the point of appearing spoilerish, that I hit that point because the novel became somewhat repetitive and boring. And then tell you that was the object - at least the object to that place in the story.

There are two very good characterizations in this. One is of
Sep 27, 2011 rated it liked it
This was on my late mother's shelf inherited some years ago, and just noticed now as we built our family library and transferred hundred of books around the house. It's hardly worth the blurb given on the paperback cover (the original, not the one pictured here) as one of the greatest books of the 20th century. That said, it's an interesting vehicle for West's jaundiced view of what wealth does to people's souls, and the destructive instincts of the greedy or insecure. Frankly, there's nothing ...more
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1001_read
I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this book. I loved Jane Austen when I was young enough that "happily ever after" ended at finding a guy you like and maybe for engaged to, but find that her stories don't pack the same punch as a grown and married woman. THIS book, though, brought back all of the giddy happiness of a first read of Austen in my youth to the new stage of my life!

It was a beautiful book that will probably greatly appeal to a woman in an early-ish stage of a marriage as Austen
Katharine Grubb
Nov 03, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Classic Lovers
Recommended to Katharine by: Alice's Bookshelf
Shelves: classics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mrs M Shambrook
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Very much of its time. Gives an insight into the gilded world of luxury and privilege enjoyed by the rich between the Wars. There is always a sense of impending doom lurking. The other theme is the relationships between men and women now radically altered by social change. Not an easy read, many long passages on her theories and the language had me reaching for the dictionary many times, but interesting
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: depth
Very real and philosophical. I think Miss West could have written 300 more pages of her views. The story completely engrossed me within the first 25 pages. I could not wait to read about the situations (and the perspectives) in the book.
Sad to finish the book; but happily ordered a few of her other books.
Alice Yoder
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Isabelle and her husband find out that the rich are just as frivolous as the rest of us think. It only takes them the entire book to find it out though. Slow but sure. I enjoyed this read.
Zen Cho
May 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: interwar, chicklit
I liked this -- some interesting things about power and privilege. The Lauristons are one of the best take-offs of a certain kind of mind-set that I've seen. I was also kind of impressed by the stuff on race -- at one point she started on analogy of white people talking to natives that made me get all skeeved out, but when I continued I saw that the analogy was skewering said white people's preconceptions about and condescension towards "natives", rather than just being creepy about white people ...more
Tarah Luke
Aug 09, 2016 rated it liked it
#1001books #738left

This was okay. I found it odd that Isabelle continued to have brain-flashes throughout the book, like, "oh my, my ridiculously wealthy husband is actually a drunken brute! How could I not have known all along??" that sort of stuff that got very tiring. I personally did not care for the characters very much as they seemed one-dimensional in that one is all good, one is all bad, one is completely selfish, etc etc etc. While West does have some interesting things to say about
recommended in the June 1936 Delineator magazine!
Took a while to get into, found Isabella far too easily led, felt she needed a good shaking.
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Gasp! This Kindle edition is accompanied by slushy ads for romance fiction... what were they thinking?
(Or *shudder* is there another Rebecca West???)
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Cicely Isabel Fairfield, known by her pen name Rebecca West, or Dame Rebecca West, DBE was an English author, journalist, literary critic, and travel writer. A prolific, protean author who wrote in many genres, West was committed to feminist and liberal principles and was one of the foremost public intellectuals of the twentieth century. She reviewed books for The Times, the New York Herald ...more

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