Rightfully compared with “Sex and the City” and adequately introduced by Candace Bushnell “The Group” on a superficial level follows 8 women in 1930ies New York, their career and amorous ambitions and how their lives eventually pan out.
Some are successful, others not as much, all caught up in the norms of the era and some struggling or actively trying to break out of these norms. At times it is heart breaking, at times funny but always brutally honest. Although written in the 60ies it struck me as surprisingly sexual, but those scenes are used to give us insights into the characters thinking and reasoning. And for me that was the strength of the novel and what must have been the inspiration for Bushnell: Ground breaking honesty, calling out what other writers did not dare to spell out.
On a more personable level I found the characters varied, some very likeable and fascinating, others almost irritating or dull. The stories and lives of these women are well thought out and enjoyable.
The 1920s and 1930s have been known as progressive and in my mind I often thought of them as fairly liberal and advanced. Reading the novel was a good reminder of how relative those terms are. How far we seem to have come in so many areas – women’s rights, access to contraception and sexual discrimination – a mere 40 years before my birth. Not that we have come where we should be in most of these areas, but I found it amazing to read strong characters fall at hurdles I thought they had already taken.
A literary triumph indeed and a mile stone in fiction. Definitely one not to be missed.