Customer Reviews for

The Red Book

Average Rating 3.5
( 25 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Kogan takes the popular concept of four female protagonists (Lit

Kogan takes the popular concept of four female protagonists (Little Women, Sex & the City, J. Courtney Sullivan's 2011 novel Maine), and adds a dash of The Big Chill (one of my favorite movies) that brought me to tears by the end of this emotional story.

Cleverly u...
Kogan takes the popular concept of four female protagonists (Little Women, Sex & the City, J. Courtney Sullivan's 2011 novel Maine), and adds a dash of The Big Chill (one of my favorite movies) that brought me to tears by the end of this emotional story.

Cleverly using the conceit of the Red Book, she introduces her four main characters with their 20 year entries. Sometimes books with multiple protagonists can lead to confusion keeping everyone straight, and by introducing in this manner, that problem is solved.

We are thrust into the lives, their marriages, their children, their careers, what they have been doing since college. Addison has put her career as an artist on hold to raise her three children and support her husband, a writer who doesn't seem to do much writing (or any parenting).

Clover was a huge success at Lehman Brothers, until they went under. Now she is unemployed and trying unsuccessfully to have a child with her husband, a Legal Aid attorney.

Mia went to LA after college to try and make it as an actress. She met an older man, Jonathan, a successful director and they have four children and a good life, with homes in LA and the Antibes. She and Jonathan are deeply in love, but what she doesn't know is that they took a big financial hit during the recession.

Jane is a reporter for the Boston Globe, based in France. Her first husband was killed while reporting in Afghanistan. She has a daughter with him and is now living with her husband's best friend. Her adopted mother recently passed away after a long illness, and Jane is bereft.

The four women all meet up again at the 20th reunion, bringing their families with them, except for Clover. Clover runs into an old flame and has a plan that unwittingly involves him . Addison ends up in serious trouble for unpaid parking tickets and her old lover, a wealthy woman, comes to rescue.

Jane is trying to decide whether to move back to the United States to write a novel, and has to face infidelities from her partner. Mia wants to return to acting.

Being back in Cambridge brings back memories for all of them, and causes some of them to reflect on their regrets, the things they should have done. The story culminates at a memorial service for a classmate, and all of the emotions of the weekend coming crashing down around them.

I really liked the relationship between Mia and Jonathan. Their marriage is solid and loving, and the scene where Jonathan comforts an upset Jane is so tender and moving.

Two of the families have teenage children, and a romance between them ensues. Kogan writes the scenes with the teens with empathy and insight, and I liked that the kids weren't one-dimensional. Their story was important as well.

Some books you love right away, this was one that took me awhile to get into, but by the end, when Kogan takes a character down a road that I was not happy about, I actually said "NO!" when I saw it coming, and almost cursed her. That is how much I was invested in this story, in this particular character. I love getting lost in a good story, and I was enveloped in this engrossing book.

My husband loves movies where at the end they tell you what happens to the characters, and this novel ends like it begins: we read the 25th anniversary report and find out how things have turned out.

posted by bookchickdi on May 28, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Fascinating but cluttered

The Red Book was hard for me to get into because it starts with the least sympathetic character, then proceeds to introduce a number of characters it's nearly impossible to keep track of, hopping in and out of all their heads like an especially psychologically perceptiv...
The Red Book was hard for me to get into because it starts with the least sympathetic character, then proceeds to introduce a number of characters it's nearly impossible to keep track of, hopping in and out of all their heads like an especially psychologically perceptive housefly. By the tenth page, I had decided that, in spite of my interest in Ivy League culture and love of Boston, I was not the right audience for this book. But I'm not a reader who gives up easily, and I found that by the middle of the book, when we start to see some of the more meaningful revelations, I was well-trained in jumping between the characters' perspectives, and by the end, the technique actually worked in the story's favor. Not a Harvard alum, I've never read a "red book," so was skeptical as to whether the personal essays were realistic, but they served as convenient character guides when I just couldn't figure out who was who otherwise.

I haven't read any of the author's other books, but she does have some clout coming in, and by the time I was three-quarters of the way through, I had decided she had enough psychological depth to carry off what she was trying to do. I ended up really enjoying the way she takes each character and implies big themes about that character's stage in life. I never did sympathize with that first character, Addison. However, her story arc included a really terrible husband who was echoed lightly in one of the others, and both husbands left the picture. That contributed to the satisfying sense that in spite of all the things that have gone so terribly, everybody's going to be just fine.

This book about Harvard alums will astonish with the incredible range of life experience it manages to pack in, and give book clubs in particular a lot to talk about.

posted by JessicaKnauss on April 4, 2012

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  • Posted April 4, 2012

    Fascinating but cluttered

    The Red Book was hard for me to get into because it starts with the least sympathetic character, then proceeds to introduce a number of characters it's nearly impossible to keep track of, hopping in and out of all their heads like an especially psychologically perceptive housefly. By the tenth page, I had decided that, in spite of my interest in Ivy League culture and love of Boston, I was not the right audience for this book. But I'm not a reader who gives up easily, and I found that by the middle of the book, when we start to see some of the more meaningful revelations, I was well-trained in jumping between the characters' perspectives, and by the end, the technique actually worked in the story's favor. Not a Harvard alum, I've never read a "red book," so was skeptical as to whether the personal essays were realistic, but they served as convenient character guides when I just couldn't figure out who was who otherwise.

    I haven't read any of the author's other books, but she does have some clout coming in, and by the time I was three-quarters of the way through, I had decided she had enough psychological depth to carry off what she was trying to do. I ended up really enjoying the way she takes each character and implies big themes about that character's stage in life. I never did sympathize with that first character, Addison. However, her story arc included a really terrible husband who was echoed lightly in one of the others, and both husbands left the picture. That contributed to the satisfying sense that in spite of all the things that have gone so terribly, everybody's going to be just fine.

    This book about Harvard alums will astonish with the incredible range of life experience it manages to pack in, and give book clubs in particular a lot to talk about.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Kogan takes the popular concept of four female protagonists (Lit

    Kogan takes the popular concept of four female protagonists (Little Women, Sex & the City, J. Courtney Sullivan's 2011 novel Maine), and adds a dash of The Big Chill (one of my favorite movies) that brought me to tears by the end of this emotional story.

    Cleverly using the conceit of the Red Book, she introduces her four main characters with their 20 year entries. Sometimes books with multiple protagonists can lead to confusion keeping everyone straight, and by introducing in this manner, that problem is solved.

    We are thrust into the lives, their marriages, their children, their careers, what they have been doing since college. Addison has put her career as an artist on hold to raise her three children and support her husband, a writer who doesn't seem to do much writing (or any parenting).

    Clover was a huge success at Lehman Brothers, until they went under. Now she is unemployed and trying unsuccessfully to have a child with her husband, a Legal Aid attorney.

    Mia went to LA after college to try and make it as an actress. She met an older man, Jonathan, a successful director and they have four children and a good life, with homes in LA and the Antibes. She and Jonathan are deeply in love, but what she doesn't know is that they took a big financial hit during the recession.

    Jane is a reporter for the Boston Globe, based in France. Her first husband was killed while reporting in Afghanistan. She has a daughter with him and is now living with her husband's best friend. Her adopted mother recently passed away after a long illness, and Jane is bereft.

    The four women all meet up again at the 20th reunion, bringing their families with them, except for Clover. Clover runs into an old flame and has a plan that unwittingly involves him . Addison ends up in serious trouble for unpaid parking tickets and her old lover, a wealthy woman, comes to rescue.

    Jane is trying to decide whether to move back to the United States to write a novel, and has to face infidelities from her partner. Mia wants to return to acting.

    Being back in Cambridge brings back memories for all of them, and causes some of them to reflect on their regrets, the things they should have done. The story culminates at a memorial service for a classmate, and all of the emotions of the weekend coming crashing down around them.

    I really liked the relationship between Mia and Jonathan. Their marriage is solid and loving, and the scene where Jonathan comforts an upset Jane is so tender and moving.

    Two of the families have teenage children, and a romance between them ensues. Kogan writes the scenes with the teens with empathy and insight, and I liked that the kids weren't one-dimensional. Their story was important as well.

    Some books you love right away, this was one that took me awhile to get into, but by the end, when Kogan takes a character down a road that I was not happy about, I actually said "NO!" when I saw it coming, and almost cursed her. That is how much I was invested in this story, in this particular character. I love getting lost in a good story, and I was enveloped in this engrossing book.

    My husband loves movies where at the end they tell you what happens to the characters, and this novel ends like it begins: we read the 25th anniversary report and find out how things have turned out.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 17, 2012

    easy beach reading

    This book is entertaining but highly predictable. None of the characters are well developed and the life stories do not ring true. In spite of that, I did turn the pages and finished quickly. Light fluff that left no lingering impression.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 5, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Well, I finally finished "The Red Book" by Deborah Cop

    Well, I finally finished "The Red Book" by Deborah Copaken Kogen. I say finally because I had to stop every now and then to put it down and catch my breath.
    I felt worded out and at times exhausted. There is a lot of "wordage" and not much dialog and many people to keep up with!
    It has funny, sad moments and at times I even cried…but for me it was a somewhat difficult read.
    This is a book about what happens to a group of wide eyed & hopeful classmates through the years as they all go about the lives they thought a Harvard education would afford them.
    Every 5 years each graduate is asked to submit a page of "where they are now" and then all are bound together into a red book and sent out to all the graduates.
    This is the story of the class of 1989, specifically four women and their 20 year class reunion and how their dreams came true or mostly just changed shape.
    My favorite parts of the book were the pages the graduates sent in...a book of just those wonderful made up lives would, to me have been much better than the few people the book actually focused on

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2013

    Good read

    Interesting characters. A little predictable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    Don't read!

    A disjointed and defragmented story of a college reunion. No one in our book club finished it!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    Amazing twists and turns

    I really enjoyed this book. The characters lives were so interconnected after many years, which intrigued me as I don't keep in touch with anyone I went to college with.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2012

    Loved this book!

    If yo're a sucker for reunions, and always wonder what has happened to your classmates - check this book out. I couldn't lay it down. Follow these classmates and see what has happened to them in the 20 years since college.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 29, 2012

    Whole lotta cheatin' goin' on!

    Characters were well developed and there was an interesting storyline but the main focus seemed to be how many of the characters were cheating on their spouses/partners.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2012

    Too much going on.

    I've now tried to read this book 3 times and there are just too many characters and too much going on. I'd love to finish it, but its too busy for me.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 3, 2012

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    Posted April 24, 2012

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    Posted April 23, 2012

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    Posted April 11, 2012

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    Posted April 7, 2012

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    Posted May 9, 2012

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    Posted April 19, 2012

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    Posted December 9, 2012

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