The Interestings was a fun book, well-written with solid characters, a great trip through the last four decades, with plenty of themes to muse on – talent, desire, friendship, loss, and love.
Six friends meet up at an artistic summer camp in 1974. The Interestings follows them through their lives and into their middle age years. Jules, the comedic actress, will discover that talent is more of a desire than a reality. Jonah, the son of an aging folksinger, will put aside his guitar as he struggles with his past and his homosexuality. Cathy, too large-breasted to be the dancer she wishes to be, will survive an incident that will destroy her friendships. Ethan, the true genius of the group, but physically unattractive, will use his animation skills to propel himself to wealth and fame. Ash and Goodman are the golden siblings that everyone admires. While Ash will remain beautiful and talented, succeeding as a director in New York City, Goodman will be involved in an incident that will destroy his life.
The book is interesting, as are the characters. The story takes place over the course of nearly 40 years, mostly in New York City, and addresses issues such as AIDS, women’s rights, homosexuality, autism, poverty, depression, rape, and child labor. While these issues form the backdrop of the story that is told, it is largely a story about life, love, and friendships. Much of the story is told from Jules perspective. Jules becomes a social worker, is poor, and is married to a man who is clinically depressed. Ash and Ethan (now married) become obscenely successful and wealthy while pursuing their artistic endeavors and Jules must struggle with her envy to maintain both her friendships and her marriage. In spite of their wealth and success, Ash and Ethan also struggle – with dishonesty, love, their work, and their children. Jules is their constant – a dear and close friend to them both. As their lives and their friendships evolve, each will struggle and succeed, proving that life is never predictable.
Title: The Interestings
Author: Meg Wolitzer
Publication: Riverhead, April 2013