It seems a pity to read a 468 page book and not get a review out of it. But the truth is I only finished it because being unwell kept me at home for a few days and I had nothing better to read. The book is dull. I simply do not understand the three pages of gushing quotations from reviews which preface the book.
There will always be a problem if you set out to chart the lives of half a dozen people, plus bit part characters, over 40 years. It will be very hard to avoid précis as you update readers on what has happened to characters A and B in the five or ten years since they last appeared on your pages. I don't think Wolitzer avoids it. The book is full of précis.
It is also rather full of box ticking. We get Discovering you are gay, clinical depression, HIV/AIDS, autism, feminist theatre, cancer though we don't get race or guns or divorce and we don't really get poverty (just the squeezed middle classes). It's actually quite a cosy book despite the fact that it axes itself around the themes of youthful aspirations turning into success or failure and envy or jealousy as you see others doing better than yourself.
No. Some of the gags are funny but I think you could find a couple of much better novels to read in the time it took me to plod through this one.
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