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The Hopefuls

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  15,978 ratings  ·  1,692 reviews
When Beth arrives in Washington, D.C., she hates everything about it: the confusing traffic circles, the ubiquitous Ann Taylor suits, the humidity that descends each summer. At dinner parties, guests compare their security clearance levels. They leave their BlackBerrys on the table. They speak in acronyms. And once they realize Beth doesn't work in politics, they smile bla ...more
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published July 19th 2016 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published July 12th 2016)
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Jennifer Close I moved to DC about 7 years ago and from the very beginning felt like I had to write a book set in this city! It's such a strange place...sometimes we…moreI moved to DC about 7 years ago and from the very beginning felt like I had to write a book set in this city! It's such a strange place...sometimes weird and sometimes wonderful. It's also so focused in politics and I was surprised at the energy you feel here, how almost everyone is working in the same field and in some ways in competition with each other.
I was especially interested in people I met who were interested in running for seemed to be such a hard and stressful life to choose. Not just for them, but for their partners as well. And the idea of charisma and what draws us to certain people (or candidates) is something that I found fascinating. All of that sort of stewed in my head for a while and then the characters began to form.(less)

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Average rating 3.33  · 
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 ·  15,978 ratings  ·  1,692 reviews

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May 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this, but Beth was just so passive and it was a real downer. All four of the main characters were pretty unlikable. I kept thinking something really scandalous would happen and spice things up - she kept alluding that something might happen with the two couples being in such close quarters, but no such luck. When something does finally happen near the end, it is disappointing and pretty anticlimactic.
Larry H
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I'd rate this maybe 4.25 stars.

The Washington, DC area gets a bit of a bad rap. Sure, there are people who work within presidential administrations and on Capitol Hill that are a little status-obsessed, and really only want to deal with those who have similar jobs. (I've attended more than a few parties in my years down here in which people literally disengaged when they found out I worked in the association management field rather than in politics.)

But this area is unique in many ways—random en
Ron Charles
Jul 08, 2016 rated it liked it
The corruption, the graft, the waste — these are the least of Washington’s irritations. Once you move to the District, what really grates is the sweaty envy, the cloying eagerness, the frantic trading of acronyms by those nerdy student council members you once mocked in high school. Now ruling the world from their nouveau Versailles, this army of civil servants jockey tirelessly for position, for the teeny-tiniest anecdotes about People in Power. Only here would a lunch companion interrupt to sa ...more
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
The Hopefuls is a story that appealed to me when I first read about it, since it focuses on recent DC transplants, which I count myself to be, too. The couple in The Hopefuls, Matt and Beth move from NYC to DC for Matt's job in government. Beth is reluctant, and initially hates everything about her new hometown, until she and Matt meet another new couple in the same situation, Jimmy and Ash. Their friendship slowly changes who Matt and Beth are, jealousy arises, manipulation and backstabbing, al ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

I totally enjoyed 2/3rds of Jennifer Close's The Hopefuls. The story of the Kellys---narrator Beth (a Wisconsinite turned NYC denizen and writer for Vanity Fair) and her husband Matt (a Harvard lawyer with a political bent)--is a pitch-perfect, convincingly realistic look at the behind-the-scenes goings-on in Washington DC,

When Beth gets laid off in 2008, Matt lands a job with the Obama election campaign, relocating the couple to the epicenter of the political process. Beth, not parti
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. I was in the mood for something light, but engaging, and The Hopefuls did the trick. The Hopefuls is focused on Beth and Matt, who have recently moved to Washington DC for Matt's new job at the White House following Obama's election. Matt is very ambitious and Beth -- who's character narrates the story -- is an unconvinced outside observer. This gives Jennifer Close an excuse to write about the crew of young ambitious politicos who work in DC -- the same types who are so unflatteringl ...more
May 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2016
I wanted to like this one more than I actually did. First, the title is misleading, at least for 95% of the book. One is not "hopeful" when all one does is complain about DC and hating DC (because wow, nothing compares to NYC! And the rats in DC are apparently so much larger! In my opinion, both statements are false. Also, yes, grocery stores suck in DC, but NYC doesn't really rank too highly on this either...). Really, all Beth does is complain. And her husband, Matt, doesn't quite give off a h ...more
Jessica Jeffers
Apr 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I loved Jennifer Close’s last novel, The Smart One, and was actually kind of disappointed that it has a pretty low rating here on Goodreads. It's really good, it's timely, and it's insightful. That's why I was really excited to grab a copy of this from Penguin’s First to Read program. I had enough points for one book and it was either this or the new Maggie O’Farrell. Maggie’s already on hold at the library, so I quickly grabbed Jennifer.

I kinda wish I’d gone with my first instinct, though, and
Nov 06, 2016 rated it liked it
It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.
Ronald Reagan

I have to agree with old Ronnie. I’ve never been a terribly political person, I’m an informed voter and love my adopted country, but the political power sphere held little interest. Yet, having moved so close to DC some years ago, it’s hard not to become fascinated by the muck of politics, even from a distance. From time to time I've selected books that u
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved this for many reasons including the writing style, the believable (if not always likable) characters, the timing with the upcoming election, and that it's set in DC (where I lived/worked out of college). I was not surprised to see that the author's husband worked on the Obama campaign. It's written with such immediacy and believability it almost feels like a memoir at times. (I am not a Washington insider, have never worked in politics, so I say that from an outsider's perspective. Neverth ...more
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. This is a weird book, because while there is something relate-able about Beth's ennui-go-with-the-flow-no-real-opinions personality, I also found it deeply frustrating. She is so passive. SO PASSIVE. I get that part of that is what the book is trying to get across - one of her friends tells her this point blank at the end. But she ever does anything to correct the things she spends the whole book complaining about. Her husband wants to leave NYC for DC, her fav city? Sure. He wants to ...more
Sarah at Sarah's Bookshelves
While The Hopefuls is set in the political world, it’s not a book about politics. Rather, it’s a book about marriage and friendship set against the backdrop of politics. Beth finds D.C. an odd and unwelcoming place until she and Matt meet the Dillons, another couple who will become their best friends. Beth is an accessible and relatable narrator and her witty commentary about the douche-y D.C. politicos had me chuckling. Maybe it was her pop culture references (including one about Friday Night L ...more
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Based on the premise of this title, I was expecting a gossipy, salacious read but as I began reading I quickly found that this wasn't going to be the case and I was OK with that. I enjoyed the start of this story; the author began a smart novel that had me captivated in the inner machinations of the Obama campaign and in the professional political culture of Washington D.C. However I soon lost interest as the story moved forward without really taking the characters anywhere. The protagonist, Bet ...more
Leslie Ann
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this one! At times it seemed to drag and parts of it probably could have been left out and made the book a little more fast paced, but it was an interesting read! I would have been happier with more of a plot... It sort of read like it was just a glimpse into the characters' everyday lives for the 4+ years the book spans over. I loved the ending though! It wasn't abrupt and I felt like everything that happened was dealt with and not left to wonder.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The Hopefuls did two things for me:
1. It got me out of a reading slump
2. Gave me insight into the political scene

What did it not do:
1. Move me, emotionally
2. Provide a plot that went somewhere

Though this novel did not receive high reviews, I elected to read it anyway, because the synopsis was enticing and I needed a read that could recharge my reading course.

The Hopefuls is about a couple (Matt and Beth Kelly) who relocate to Washington, DC in order to help Matt, who is hopeful about advancing
Aug 13, 2016 rated it did not like it
"The Hopefuls"--or the more accurate subtitle: "Privileged People Bitching About EVERYTHING."

I tried to like this book; I wanted to. I stuck with it to the end because I wanted to understand, something, about these people and their motivations. The book is well written and the first half in Washington DC moves at a brisk clip, but finally, the characters just ruined it.

These have to be the most annoying, unappealing and unsympathetic protagonists I have encountered in a long time. Ultimately, I
Krista Regester
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
The main couple in this book - Beth and Matt - are probably the most basic "normal" couple that you could imagine. I found myself hating their relationship and swearing that if I was ever involved in something like theirs, I would take off running. The author's description and inside look at working in politics had all desired elements. A topic I usually find uninteresting, I couldn't get enough of. Beth was relate-able, charming, and it felt like I knew her, but I wanted to rescue her from her ...more
Jul 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Oh, I just wanted MORE here. I wanted this book to focus and really be about something. It could have been an expose of Washington politics. It could have been an exploration of a political marriage. It just could have been SOMETHING. Instead, what I got was a thinly written set of characters who I knew nothing about, not really. Beth, our narrator, is so bland and I never really understood if she actually liked her husband Matt or if he was just convenient. Who is Ash? Why Colleen? Why are ther ...more
Jan 23, 2017 added it
An entertaining read - especially in light of the recent election and for those of us who live in the bedroom communities of Washington DC. The main character is a NYC transplant and she has the same shock at the cleanliness of the DC Metro that I experienced when I first ventured south. There's a no eating/drinking policy for the DC Metro. (Would that solve NYC's rat problem? I doubt a nuclear fallout would solve NYC's rat problem but I digress...)

It's also the timeless story of a couple tryin
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
First let me say I have enjoyed Closes's previous novels and could have liked this book BUT... I couldn't wait for this book to end.

The main character is so unhappy, from page one to the last chapter. It put a shadow over the book for me. If the author wanted me to shake Beth at times for being passive... job well done.

This book will make for a good book discussion.

Have you read this book? I'm curious to know how Beth read for you.
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
It was an interesting view on working/campaigning for a future president but a little to democratic for me at times. It was a cute contemporary and an enjoyable story.
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book held a poignancy for me. That isn't because I've ever been involved with politics, but because I have vivid memories of several "couples" friendships that were of a certain time and place in our lives, and that faded away so gradually that it happened before we noticed.
Granted, the world the Dillons and Kellys lived in was more intense, more dramatic, than mine, and there was never a "moment" that broke apart the relationship. It was the fading away of the closeness, the sense of nost
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
More like 3.5. I loved the first 80% of the book - especially with all the references to some of my favorite DC haunts. The last 20% took a turn that I had trouble buying into but ultimately was satisfied with the outcome.
Aug 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2016
What makes a book good? Is it likable characters? Some imitation of life that resonates with us? The feeling of living vicariously through the characters? I'm really wondering, and not being long winded here. Because I would say I don't know enough about DC to find the endless bellyaching about it to be interesting. I wouldn't necessarily say I found any of the characters likable (in fact, she's so damn passive that I forgot the main character's name for about 2 chapters). And yet I was interest ...more
What a boring read....reading this was slightly more entertaining than watching paint dry. I wanted to either shake Beth or push her off a cliff, along with her self absorbed husband. What was the point of this story?
MaryannC. Book Freak
This was an interesting look into to the lives of a young couple Matt and Beth, who move to DC( as it is referred as) and get caught up in the game of political campaigning that eventually starts affecting their marriage.
Patricia Williams
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a really interesting and entertaining story revolving around politics. I enjoy the read, a story about 2 couples involved in a political campaign and what it did to their lives. The wife of one couple tells the story and I like her a lot. This starts as a story of two men who are involved in the Obama campaign for President and then work in the White House when he wins, and then their own political ambitions and what it does to their lives. Very entertaining read.
Beth is less than thrilled when her husband, Matt, announces they are moving to Washington, DC. Beth loves New York City and all that comes with it, and DC is an intense culture shock. Matt is involved with President Obama's campaign and the couple's life revolves completely around politics. Beth, a writer, tires easily of the endless business talk and her husband's obsession with politics and the DC scene. Soon Matt and Beth meet Jimmy and Ashleigh. Jimmy works at the White House as well. The c ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: womens-fiction
I continue to read this specific type of women's fiction (You know the type I'm talking about? The 'I'm still trying to figure everything out', the 'growing and learning and making mistakes' type of fiction?) because sometimes I find parts of myself in them - my worries, my realizations, my fears and that makes them worth it. My problem time after time however is that the leading lady is usually so passive aggressive, so morose and whiny that I just can't stomach it. More often than not, it's wh ...more
Jun 10, 2016 added it
Full review at:

If you were a fan of Jennifer Close’s The Smart One or Girls In White Dresses – as I was – then you will want to give her new novel The Hopefuls a read. While Close’s first two novels dealt with the confusing, rootless post-college mid-20s, The Hopefuls is about a young married couple in their late 20s who moves to Washington, DC in the early years of the Obama presidency.

Beth and Matt Kelly start out living in New York, but they head south
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Jennifer Close is the best-selling author of Girls in White Dresses and The Smart One. Her new novel, The Hopefuls, will be out in July 2016. Born and raised on the North Shore of Chicago, she is a graduate of Boston College and received her MFA in Fiction Writing from the New School in 2005. She worked in New York in magazines for many years. She now lives in Washington, DC, and teaches creative ...more

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