THE READING GROUP

Elizabeth Noble, Author . Perennial $14.95 (429p) ISBN 978-0-06-076044-1

Perfect indulgence for the eponymous set—or pandering to an anticipated audience? Or maybe both? As the London Evening Standard put it, "The blurb has [the author] down as a simple Surrey housewife who knocked this out between the Hoovering and the hot sex, but further investigation reveals her to be a veteran of book marketing married to the head of Time Warner UK." Go figure! Well, either way, this U.K. bestseller is a frothy page-turner that dissects the relationships, desires and discoveries of five English women, all members of a book club. Over the course of a year, the women read 12 novels (including Atonement , Rebecca and The Alchemist ) and, through their playful but intimate discussions (few of which revolve around the books), they bond closely while coping with such matters as a philandering husband, a mother with dementia, a pregnant but unmarried daughter, an infertility crisis, a wedding and a funeral. It's a testament to Noble's characterizations and plotting that the novel is not overwhelming, despite its numerous (perhaps too many) points of view, complicated backstories and interweaving contemporary crises. Light but never flip, this is funny, contemplative and touching reading, and the group's familiar book choices allow readers to feel as if they're part of the gang, too, as they race to the end, eager to find out what happens, why it does and what it all means. Agent, Stephanie Cabot. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/15/2004
Release date: 01/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-84505-157-0
Open Ebook - 464 pages - 978-0-06-085877-3
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-0189-6
Paperback - 573 pages - 978-84-96940-93-2
Ebook - 464 pages - 978-0-06-115979-4
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-340-73470-4
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 464 pages - 978-0-06-085874-2
Ebook - 464 pages - 978-0-06-185426-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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