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The Writing Circle by Corinne Demas
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The Writing Circle: 11/09/11

cover art

The Writing Circle by Corinne Demas sat on my wishlist exactly a year. I don't remember who recommended it to me or why I added it. It's outside my usual reading.

The book starts as the story of Nancy, a twice published author being invited to join a writing circle. Nancy's had some trouble getting published after her initial success. She's been invited by Bernard, a biographer. The first meeting though doesn't feel like a success. No one seems to want her there, except for Bernard.

With that set up I expected the book to follow how Nancy earns the trust of her group, gets the advice she needs on her book and regains her confidence to finish the book and get it published. But, this book is a little more literary. And while all those things are there in Nancy's stories, the book as a whole is a character study of the people in the circle and those immediately associated with them.

As things progress, a series of events, little mistakes or off handed choices, lead to an unexpected and tragic ending. When I first finished, I thought of Nancy's description of her first chapter, where she just says that stuff happens; the tragedy isn't anyone's fault.

But as I thought more about how one decision leads to another, clearing a path towards the unfortunate ending, I thought of a better term, hitsuzen. Instead of it being coincidences, it's meant to be, even if it seems like the result of a series of random events. That's when the rambling nature of the story clicked into place and I was able to see the bigger picture.

Three stars.

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Thursday, November, 10, 2011 at 22:56:15

Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting

I quite like the sound of this one, despite your misgivings. I'll keep an eye out for it.

Comment #2: Monday, November 14, 2011 at 13:48:25


It just went in a different direction than I thought it was headed. The Writing Circle would work well as a book club selection or in a lit class.

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