Book: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, Penguin Audio, April 9, 2013
Book Info: Fiction, Audiobook received for review from Penguin Audio. Running time: 15 hrs, 41 mins. Read by: Jen Tullock. Also available in hardcover from Riverhead Books.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
The Interestings is the first novel I’ve read/listened to by Meg Wolitzer. I went into the book with high expectations, after seeing all the book buzz and the “A” grade review in EW. I lived in New York for a short time, so I’m always happy to read books that are set there. Plus, I find the subject matter of watching creative kids grow up and the challenges and opportunities they face fascinating. Friendships and other relationships are explored as The Interestings navigate the adult world. Though the book started out a little less than interesting, I soon got lost in the story and couldn’t put it down.
The Interestings time frame starts out in the 1970s and spans four decades. The title refers to the name the group of creative friends dub themselves at an artsy summer camp in the Berkshires. The clique stays in touch over the years, some leave their art camp dreams behind, while others build on their talents.
We follow the lives of a group of friends in The Interestings. Jules and Ash have the acting bug; Ethan is the animator, Cathy, a dancer, Jonah, the musician, and Goodman, the architect. Ethan is the most famous of the group, and achieves a Matt Groening level of success. His fame is something that sets him apart from the other Interestings, though he tries to stay grounded and keep his old friends close by. It’s hard for the other friends to keep jealousy at bay, especially when they settle for careers so different than they hoped for.
Since the book covers 40 years, important topics of the day are touched upon, from trendy cuisine and technology to feminism, AIDS, terrorism, autism, depression, and abuse. But at the center of it all are the friendships and there is some juicy stuff going on that kept me riveted.
I listened to the audiobook, read by Jen Tullock, and it’s my first experience with her narration. (I don’t see any other books credited to her on Audible) Tullock “gets” the characters and gives them distinct personalities. She sounds age appropriate and talks like a New Yorker. I tend to like narrators that talk quickly and Tullock’s pace was just perfect for me. I think the narration enhanced the book, and I don’t think I missed anything by not reading the print version. Except- there were times when I didn’t have the audiobook handy that I wished I had the print version too so I could keep reading!
Meg Wolitzer made the book entertaining and thought provoking. She weaves a good story, and plays with time to tease out the events. Wolitzer makes insightful observations about her characters and made me care about them. I don’t read a lot of literary fiction, but I’d put this book up there with Gone Girl in terms of the enjoyment factor.
Add The Interestings to your summer reading list if you like reading books about life, friendships and relationships, and New York. It would certainly be a good book club choice too. Be sure to serve The Interestings favorite 70s cocktail, V&T (Vodka and Tang) to go with your book discussion.