Ask a Book Question: #69 (A New ‘The Group’)

November 25, 2008 | 2 books mentioned 2

Renee writes in with this question:

There is a relatively new book (fiction) that has been compared with The Group by Mary McCarthy. What is it? I have done an exhaustive search and cannot find it.

coverThe Group, published in 1962, is described by some as McCarthy’s biggest success. “The group” is eight graduates of Vassar, then an all-women college. McCarthy explores the different paths their lives take and offers a satire of stuffy east coast, Ivy League society. Though the book’s characters are graduates of the class of 1933, the book is more a relic of 1962, as McCarthy was not shy about the sex lives of her characters, presaging the loosening of social mores that was to come later that decade. Though not all that well-known now, the book is still highly regarded, which is no doubt part of the reason why it inspired A Fortunate Age, a forthcoming debut by Joanna Smith Rakoff. From Booklist:

Like the classic novel it so obviously pays homage to, Mary McCarthy’s The Group, Rakoff’s mesmerizing debut opens with a wedding and closes with a funeral. In between, the novel provides a pitch-perfect portrait of the generation that came of age in the 1990s as four ambitious Oberlin graduates arrive in New York City full of hopes and dreams.

A Fortunate Age will be published in April 2009.

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.


  1. When I was in tenth grade at the Franklin School, a private school on the Upper West Side, back in 1965-66, this was the book all the girls and some of the boys were reading. It was like an intellectual's Valley of the Dolls (which we also read, but only the dumb ones admitted liking even though we all loved it).

    Who'd have thunk it?

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