Monday, June 16, 2014

June Book Club: The World We Found

Going to university is life changing. One enters little more than a child and leaves very nearly an adult. The experience will form one’s personality in ways that continue to reveal themselves as one ages.

The very luckiest of us make friends at university that remain with us for life. I am still in touch with my two roommates and still love them very much. But, the most important friends I made were the three women I call my London group.

The second semester of my freshman year, I went to London to study literature and theater. On the trip, I met Anne, Amy, and Mandy and we became fast friends. Thirty-three years later, we still are. Our lives have taken us in different directions, but we have always stayed in touch and we do what we can to get together at least once a year.

These are the women that knew me when I was very young and have stuck by me through everything that life has thrown at me. They are also the ones who see through the nonsense and are able to put me back on the right path. Last summer, when I was telling them about my writing, Mandy said to me, “What took you so long?” She’s right.

It is because of this group of women that I went into Thrity Umrigar’s book The World We Found with great expectation. It is the story of four women, close friends at university, who come together again many years later when one of them is diagnosed with a critical illness. I expected to relate to it on a personal level that I don’t often find. I was sadly disappointed.

Umrigar is a beautiful writer and some of the phrases she crafts are gorgeous. The problem is the plot. It is weak and superficial. Rather than show us the friendship among these women and show us how that friendship has help to mold them, she tells the story of the four women individually. The stories are good, but I wanted to watch these women interact.

What really bothered me, however, was that the last part of the book is more about these women’s husbands than it is about them. The story ends on the men, with the four women never being in the same room together. I was unhappy.

My book club had mixed feelings about the book. Some liked it; some did not. We had a great discussion about it, but finally agreed that it should have been more than it was.

I came away from our meeting feeling blessed. I have had the friendship of three remarkable women through my entire adult life. Thank you, ladies, for everything. I love you all.

Next month: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

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