After her father dies of pancreatic cancer, Julie Jacobsen's Long Island mother sends her––on scholarship––to Spirit In the Woods, a summer camp mostly populated by the artsy teen spawn of privileged Manhattanites. Julie is surprised to be adopted into a circle of kids above her sophistication level, appreciated for her acerbic wit and christened "Jules" by them.
In the self-styled "Interestings" group are sister and brother Ash and Goodman Wolf; son of a Joan Baez-ish folkie, Jonah Bay; and fellow scholarship camper and aspiring cartoonist, Ethan Figman. Ash, warm-hearted, beautiful and earnestly feminist, will become Jules's best friend. Ethan is awkward and goofy, but warmhearted and hugely talented.
All of the Interestings have ambitions; Jules expresses it as wanting to have a "big life." We follow the group from their teenage days, during the Watergate era, through to their middle age, and see what happens as they grow into their adult lives, some of which are far bigger than others––at least if you're measuring by name recognition and money. As the old saying goes, though, life is what happens while you're making other plans, and we see that play out in this story.
Anchored in its time and place, the tale spans the bad old days when Manhattan was filthy and crime-ridden, the beginning of the AIDS era, the Moonies, foodies, the rise (and fall) of the yuppie and the investment banker and 9/11. All the personal landmarks are the real story, though: career achievements and disappointments, marriage, children, friendship, loss, illness, death. Biggest of all, the slow growth of the idea that happiness, or at least satisfaction, can be found in a life that isn't so big or interesting.
Audio: Jen Tullock was not a good narrator. Her voice was nasal and she often delivered character voices were in an inappropriately whiny and singsong-y style. It was grating and detracted a lot from my enjoyment of the story. During the middle of the book, there was a long period when it sounded like she had a lozenge or gum in her mouth.
Yes, I would recommend this book. Although the main character, Jules Jacobson, is not always likeable (in her older years she can be downright whiny), I enjoyed the different characters and we learned how they grew up and what they became over the course of 40 years. Some very funny moments, as well as some very sad ones, I enjoyed how this book described life in general.
My favourite character was Ethan Figman, who was incredibly likeable and grew up to be incredibly rich and a celebrity in his own right, but this didn't affect him in terms of who he was as a person. Like all of Meg Wolitzer's characters, he wasn't just black and white though.
I haven't listened to any of her other performances, however I really enjoyed this one. I thought that she did a great job depicting the different vocals of each character and I could really picture them in my mind.
Jules Jacobson was kind of the "main" character, and so I would say she was the most memorable. Although not always likeable, and certainly not flawless, she had some good insights into her own life and the life of her close friends.
I would recommend this book to any baby boomer who loved summer camp for sure, for sure for sure. This book took me back in time to the wonderful summers I spent learning about life and people.
I could compare it to Gone Girl because I absolutely did not want either of these books to end. Now I'll have to settle for a while because I know how hard it is to find just right books like these.
Jules and Ethan. Their story touched me and made my heart ache. I found the description of their lives (minus the star status and fame) to be actually quite realistic.
She did a great job making each character distinct and an individual.
Loved it. I listened to the entire book in two days.
I retitled this book "The Insufferables" because I just found the characters cloying. The fact that they name themselves The Interestings really shows their level of self absorption. The storyline was ok, but I'm not recommending it to my friends.
First, let me say that I was so hesitant to "read" another audiobook after listening to a narration of "Wool" by Hugh Howey that was so painful, I had to finish the book in text.
I am SO HAPPY with Jen Tullock's narration of "The Interestings" that, frankly, it could have been a much lesser novel and I would have torn through it just as quickly.
I am a native Manhattanite, temporary Southerner, and, honestly, I seek out epic novels that have New York City as their backdrop. This novel positively SLAYED me. The monotony, mundanity, anonymity, of our lives and the steps we take to give these lives meaning - THAT is what this book is about.
Did you love St. Elmo's Fire? If so, you will love this book.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenedies; Beloved by Zadie Smith; Let the Great World Spin by ColomnMcCann.
Oh there were SO MANY. Jonah. Moonies. "Ethan; you LOVE her..."
I would LOVE to see this novel as a film. And I hate novels as films. What would the tag line be...?
"Boy wanders; girl waits"?
"Makeouts, Moonies, Money and More!"
I was excited to answer this question but I just can't reduce this novel to a tag line!
Narration was STELLAR. Tullock, through infliction and pitch, is masterful with her characters. You come to know EXACTLY who she is voicing without any cues, simply by ear. She doesn't explicitly change her tone ro pitch, but a slight graveling lets you know that Ethan is "speaking" well before Ethan is credited with the speech.
This book was amazing. I'm looking forward to more from Jen Tullock AND Meg Wolitzer.
Persnickety, curmudgeonly, locked into a lock daily commute which is mitigated by listening to great books.
Wolitzer's ability to get inside the heads of the characters without sounding clinical
No -first time
Bildungsroman, relatable, nostalgia
I liked so many things about this story. But mostly I loved the way that the group was followed from idealistic teenage-dom into the first challenges of adulthood into meandering middle age. It was so relatable. We all think we're fantastically interesting until life kicks us around for a while and we realize we are just people who need each other.
Ethan and Julz were by far my favorite. I loved their deep connection that went into a territory beyond romance. They were people who experienced life, but questioned it too.
I thought the narrator did an excellent job! The voices of each of the characters was so distinct and wonderful. i'm sure a movie will be made of this book, but I kind of hate to erase the characters created by the writer and narrator in tandem.
I am a miracle worker. Doing what I can to choose love over fear.
The way characters and different era's take you on a journey like few other novels match. The Personalitiea are Amazingly Heartwarming
Ethan: Won't spoil the story , when you listen you will see why.
Ethan and Jools at the office.
Life: Things change but remains the same.
Ce n'est pas grave!
Although I am a Meg Wolitzer fan, she really dropped the ball on this one. The story is so boring and implausible that I can barely slog through the last 10 % of the audiobook. The idea of a well known musician drugging a young kid with LSD on numerous occasions to harvest his inherited song writing talent is ludicrous. This book reads like formulaic bad young adult fiction. The good are so good and the bad are so ridiculously portrayed ( I.e. the naughty and nubile Kathy Kiplinger, with the unfortunate you gotta hate her story line of being a fake rape victim) that the only real seeming character is Jule's hapless husband. I must say that the story was not aided by the "Valley Girl" accents and simpering parents' voices created by the narrator. I have come to the conclusion that, with the exception of the occasional character part ( raspy smoker's voice or unique accent) the best narrators do not go overboard on voices because the "man voice" or " lady voice" or "teenage voice" can be so distracting as to alienate the listener and ruin the author's intent for the character. Of course, this is a fine line and not all narrators can pull it off but this already weak book was weakened further by the unlikable voices used. I really didn't feel anything for any of them except for a irritation.