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496 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1963
“I used to keep seventy-five dollars of mad money in a book. We had The Group on the shelf in our guest room and I thought, I’ll remember where it is if I put it in there. Every guest we had would come down the next morning and say, ‘Did you know you had money in that book?’ ”
Excerpt: "There was a side of Sloan, she [Priss] had decided, that she mistrusted, a side that she summed up by saying he was a Republican. Up to now this had not mattered; most men she knew were Republicans--it was almost part of being a man. But she did not like the idea of a Republican controlling the destiny of a helpless baby..."
RL. You once said that the Group was ‘supposed to be the history of the loss of faith in progress.’ Were you out to shatter female illusions, particularly in marriage as an institution that could be liberalised in some way?The Group took me completely by surprise and I only wish now that I'd read it when I was a young woman, fresh out of university, making my way in New York with my friends. I had always meant to read it but had thought it to be a tragedy rather than a comedy. (No idea where I got that idea.) To be sure, there is one tragic event that occurs, but even that is handled with a deft touch so that the reader is moved but amused in equal portions. McCarthy never overplays her hand, and she has a wickedly funny sense of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed this and plan to read much more of her work in future.
MM. No. The Group was conceived essentially as a comic novel. Apart from Lakey, none of the girls are very bright and I was interested in satirising the way each of them embraces the New Deal era, in fashions, domestic appliances, ideas, sex and so on. The girls are meant to be funny, especially in the way they parrot the progressive opinions of their husbands or boyfriends, and I wanted to show how their often rather naïve expectations are ultimately confounded.
RL. From what political standpoint?
MM. From the left, but not with any great seriousness. I was more interested in describing the girls’ gullibility and self-deception than anything else. That their attitudes hadn’t really changed from their mothers’ was, for me, one of the most comic aspects of the book. Kay was the real power in ‘The Group’ and her death was meant to represent the end of that whole liberal-progressive era in American life. Source