The Interestings The Interestings question

The title is the opposite of the book and characters right?
JO JO (last edited Feb 21, 2014 07:05PM ) Nov 16, 2013 12:14PM
I really did not like this book. It was overdue I returned it unfinished, but hate to give up on a book and therefore, took it out again and forced myself to finish it. I sped read the last bit. Jules is not the least bit funny or wry or interesting. Why would Ethan even be attracted to her, except that she was poorish too. I found none of the characters interesting. Jules for all intents and purposes was a jealous, self hater, who hung out with these kids at camp because she thought they were talented, interesting and attractive. Okay I get that happening but then you grow out of that don't you? She did marry Dennis who is more down to earth kinda guy. I did not FEEL the close friendship between any of these people. The writer did not make me see or feel why ASH and Jules were such close friends. Jules was unlikeable. This book reminds me a bit of the The Marriage Plot in its unlikeable uninteresting characters.

Wow its frustrating that i can't reply to any of your comments. I do realize the title is not meant to describe the characters and its from when they were at camp. But goodman and ethan really do think they are interesting and Goodman is just a a very unlikable character. Also, I don't have a problem with Jules envy or jealousy I just don't enjoy her character and that is ALL I see when I see her. She never seemed joyful. I certainly have experienced envy and jealousy but I am also joyful, hopeful, exicited and many other things. I think this book is one note and depressing.

It's a relief to see that I'm not alone in my utter disappointment in this critically revered book, one that came recommended by many trusted reader friends. This voracious reader found "The Interestings" to be vague, sprawling, unfocused, and without the kind of lively plotting (not much happens) I had come to expect from the mostly rave reviews I eagerly consumed prior to undertaking it.

Reading the book, we hear a lot about the profundity of the connection forged by the Interestings the first summer they were all together, but we don't really get to experience much of it; I felt while reading the book that I was hearing about their "connection" second-hand. Without having gone through that bonding with them in any sustained way (save for a couple of introductory teepee scenes), I felt like I was slipping behind emotionally throughout the book, as if I hadn't ever really had the chance to experience "The Interestings" prior to their inevitable dissolution.

Other things that grated throughout my read: there doesn't appear to be any central protagonist (although I suppose it's intended to be the relatively arc-free Jules); I found the characters' individual voices weakly defined; especially confusing was the fact that Jules is mostly known for being funny, but she rarely is funny in the book (when we do see flashes of her humor/wit, it is stock, predictible - to wit not funny). Also, I found the Goodman stuff interminable: it would have helped if we knew him at all beyond a few brooding/sexy character tropes and if we had a whiff of Cathy Kiplinger's character above and beyond the fact that she loves to dance but isn't built for it. It seems pretty clear that Goodman's guilty as charged, which makes all the pining for him by his family a little hard to get behind (understandable as it may be, given the ties that bind). I liked that nasty drug stuff between Jonah and Barry Claimes (fascinating), some of the Ethan/"Figland" stuff, and I especially liked the Moonie section with Jonah. Mostly, though, I was left cold by a book that many have reportedly found emotionally engaging, even cathartic. I'm left a little mystified, if pleased for Meg Wolitzer, who seems like a likable, committed author. I'm also pleased for those readers who found so much in it to love. I wasn't one of them.

I agree with Joni. It's as if the title should be "The Interestings....Not So Very". This was a library book and I had to renew it once just to finish it.

The only reason I finished this book was to satisfy my book club quota. I never would have wasted the three check-outs and 2 months struggling to finish the book if we weren't meeting to discuss. No one in my book club cared for this book and several did not bother to finish! I felt like it was hard to like the protagonist (Jules) and that the title was a bit of an oxymoron. Much better novels out there.

I wanted to love this book having been an artsy kid in the 70s. Sadly, I couldn't even get past a couple of chapters. To me, The Interestings were not interesting at all. There are so many who didn't like this book at all, and others who thought it was fabulous. Nothing in between.

I had very mixed feelings about this book. I didn't like the characters as people and thought the plot was sort of silly but identified with it because I grew up in Western Mass where the camp was located and lived in NYC at the same time as much of the adult action of this book. I loved NYC then, it was exciting, dangerous and full of potential just as we all envisioned ourselves.
Thought The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer was a much better book.

The book is more "interesting" if you went to camp and experienced some of the craziness that happens there. Further from camp it got predictable but not unreadable.

Quite simply, I loved this book and returned it to the library in time with no renewals required, only because I found it so interesting.

The title didn't come from a statement about whether the characters were interesting or not. When they were at camp, Goodman jokes that they should call their little group "The Interestings." And the book is about the members of the group. Them giving themselves the title is a somewhat ironic and idealistic thing that teens would do. I don't believe it was Wolitzer's attempt to make a statement about the characters in any way. This is what they believe about themselves and for Jules, whose pov the book is written in, it's certainly true.

Anita (last edited Dec 06, 2013 06:56AM ) Nov 18, 2013 07:03AM   0 votes
I really liked this book. I didn't feel like you did at all, Joni. The title, of course, came from "others" not the characters who started as children. Maybe the author's point was these people were not "interesting."A number of people I know IRL who aren't readers of fiction really liked it, too. Hope to hear from more people who read this. I also really liked "The Marriage Plot." :-)

Denise, absolutely they named themselves, but because of how they saw themeselves as opposed to the "others." This little group saw themselves as interesting where others weren't. I didn't mean the "others" named I agree with you 100 per cent. Thank you for being clearer than I was.

This book is one of the most amazing books I have read. The way every character developed itself, was incredible. Except for Goodman and Cathy.

Jonah, Ethan, Ash and Jules; were so flawed. I loved that their stories had positive resolution and that they figured out at the end. They learned that life is complicated at you should learn to work with what you have. I'm very fond of human dramas.

I enjoyed it!!

deleted member May 02, 2015 12:58PM   0 votes
The title is not ironic, or it could be if Wollitzer set out to write a book about boring people. If,in fact, she did, she succeeded admirably, but she did set out to force the hipster definition of Irony as 'the unexpected or out of place' to the post baby boomer generation (or do they qualify) who generlly did not us it to refer to themselves or their pink princess phones. That people seem to love it is once again a reminder of things I would rather not be reminded of. That is not meant ironically.

U 25x33
JO I was very shocked people loved this book also. It takes all kinds and I assumed there are more people out there than I could have imagined who can re ...more
May 06, 2015 05:01AM

I thought Jules was the least interesting by far. She was like an envious middle school aged girl, so filled with jealousy that she could hardly function in her own daily life. I found myself becoming annoyed when she was the narrator. Cathy never interested me either, but she never really got a chance to tell her story. Ash and Goodman were moderately interesting. Goodman lead a more interesting life, but again, we never got any narration from him. Jonah was great as a younger man, but boring as all get out while he was in the relationship with Robert. I was kind of relieved that Robert left him. I thought there was so much more potential with Jonah that was left untapped. His big confrontation with the music thief (forgot his name) could have been so much more satisfying. I did enjoy Ethan from the very first moment we met him through the end. He was the most interesting to me by far. I kind of liked when he blamed Jules for indirectly giving him cancer by disapproving of his hat. I imagined that Jules Queen of Envy lived the rest of her fictional days with tremendous guilt. That would have redeemed her a bit for me.

My favorite book of the year.

It's to be expected that a book liked this will prompt a very wide range of reactions. In my opinion, it is excellent and does what it does very well. I did a longish review of it here:

Anita Mark, loved your review. How I wish I could talk about a book like you did. I also really enjoyed this book but couldn't articulate it like you did. ...more
Oct 03, 2014 06:20AM · flag

Agree that this book was a HUGE disappointment. Took me about 6 weeks of off and on reading to finish this, and during that time I read about 5 other books. The Characters were self-absorbed and did nothing for me. Jules was probably the best choice as narrator/main character and the author completely did nothing with one or two of those initial characters. Hate to make this sound political, but it felt like I was reading about a bunch of spoiled liberals who criticized anyone not like themselves, and finally Jules husband said it best when he told her they were just not that interesting.

It wasn't one of my favorites, but I had no trouble finishing it. The characters all had their own issues, and some of which were resolved in some shape for form (death in one instance). The plot moved too quickly at the end, almost as if the author was sick of writing it and just wanted to get it done by lumping info into paragraphs.
The characters were linked by their love for the camp,or their memories of the camp, and their ongoing and evolving fondness for each other based on those initial friendships. Life happened--to each of them--but it all went back to their experiences at the camp in some way, except for Cathy who escaped altogether.

I don't understand why people are upset by Jules's envy ("jealousy" is the fear that what you have will be taken by someone else--this definition is not provided correctly in the book). To me it seems well handled and honest in the story. Be real with yourself. Wouldn't you feel this way? If you'd set expectations/hopes for your life and been unable to attain them, for whatever reason, wouldn't it, from time to time, come up, when some of your friends were living lives of such EXTREME success? We don't see every moment of Jules's life and it seems that she is in fact able to function. But Christmas letters are hard. Aren't they often hard? Lots of people have trouble with, say, Facebook depression, now, which is a documented phenomenon. I know that sometimes I'm a bit shocked when someone who supposedly has the same job title I have, and their spouse doesn't work, is going on trips to Europe and buying new houses and cars and such, and I can't afford those things. I wonder: HOW DO THEY DO IT? Am I somehow being stupid with my money? Is there some trick I'm missing? Did they inherit money I didn't know about (most likely story? How is there so much secret money in America? And how is it even possible not to feel envious? I'm working just as hard! I'm even doing the same work!

Ban Facebook... ban the Christmas letter, I say. LOL.

Anyhow, that was about the only thing I liked about the book. The rest of it felt contrived, but that felt honest. I think if you dislike her for that reason, you aren't very real with yourself.

There's a lot of buzz about this book and I was surprised because I felt the way many of those posting did-that the book not interesting in the least. I felt the relationships didn't work and thought the main character, Jules, was self-absorbed. I listened to this on audio so I did finish it. I couldn't have forced myself to plod through and turn pages though.

To respond to the initial comment. I thought the title was ironic and not a description of any character. I think the novel was about the difference between privilege and authenticity. Jules/Julia came from an ordinary family dealing with a trauma in a quiet, stoic way. Her embrace of the Goodman/Ash family was her attempt to escape the grey sameness of grief and hopelessness. I think the events of the novel show how Uninteresting and even immoral the G/A family turns out to be. They are wealthy, self-interested and physically attractive. Jules' real family is humble and broken by the death of the father (who, if I recall correctly, was an engineer). It seems like she equates usefulness with a lack of imagination and wealth and the arts with intelligence and glamour. For me the novel deals with her confusion about this through the decades. She willingly abandons her own family and joins Ash and her parents to participate in their skewed version of reality which includes some very unbeautiful distortions! The potential 'interestings' of the novel were the 2 talents: Ethan and the musician. Events seem to indicate that Ethan needed Ash to help him become famous, but he still values Jules' integrity. The musician has been damaged by the 'interesting' world and therefore, withdraws into a shell for most of the novel. The novel critiques my own generation but attractive, wealthy icons continue to SEEM interesting while more homely strivers often go unnoticed. I WAS hoping for Jules to have more clarity by the end of the novel. I think The Marriage Plot was an excellent novel and although I read it years ago, it seems that the main character has his eureka moment in the last pages. This book, of course, dealt with mental illness in an overt way. We never really know what is wrong with GOODman.

this book was a huge disappointment - cliche, typical, no depth in the characters or the storytelling. Anita - you can still present uninteresting people in an interesting way (John Cheever was a master at this).

Yes, I was very disappointed as well. I thought it crawled, but I did finish it.

back to top