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The Thinking Reed

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  110 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
A thoughtful romantic novel of love found, lost, rekindled, and redefined
 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
ebook, 431 pages
Published December 21st 2010 by Open Road Media (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 sli ...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 I ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 th
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 s ...more
Mrs M Shambrook
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 m
Zen Cho
May 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chicklit, interwar
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
Katharine Grubb
Nov 03, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Tarah Luke
#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 mal
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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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 Tribune ...more
More about Rebecca West...
“Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapour, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this.” 7 likes
“The general tendency to be censorious of the vices to which one has not been tempted.” 0 likes
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