The Group

Mary McCarthy

The Group
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The Group

Mary McCarthy

The Group follows eight graduates from exclusive Vassar College as they find love and heartbreak, forge careers, gossip and  party in 1930s Manhattan. The Group can be seen as the original Sex and the City. It is the first novel to frankly portray women’s real lives, exploring subjects such as sex, contraception, motherhood and marriage.  

With an introduction from Candace Bushnell  


This 1960s classic has been on my ‘to-read’ list for ages – and the appearance of this new Virago edition, with an introduction from Candace Bushnell and a rave from Sarah Waters, was the impetus for me to finally strike it off. And I’m so glad I did!

A recent review in The Independent declared this as ‘the precursor of the women’s novel’ and that ‘without this, there would be no Sex in the City’. This seems apt. But by no means is this early chick-lit (and incidentally, it’s more biting and cerebral than STC; no fairytale endings or earnest shoe obsessions here).

It’s savagely funny, sharply observant, beautifully drawn and completely absorbing, telling the stories of eight female college graduates in 1930s New York, set against the backdrop of the Depression; the building and onset of World War II; the suffragettes movement and the new rights and debates it has brought; and the politics of the time, including the schisms within socialism and Communism; and the shifting sands of social class. All this is expertly woven into the fabric of the characters’ lives.

But the themes at the core of the novel are universal and as relevant today as they were in the 1930s and at the time of publication: juggling careers and relationships, the intricacies of friendship, the paradoxes of attraction, the lure and heartbreak of love. I didn’t want this book to end, but couldn’t help tearing through it. Highly recommended.

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