Customer Reviews for

The Writing Circle

Average Rating 3.5
( 113 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Highly Recommended

Lyrical prose combines with witty dialogue to keep you reading from the first page. The Writing Circle follows a group of writers and their social and moral struggles over the integrity of their work and of their attractions. Love and friendship end up leading to both...
Lyrical prose combines with witty dialogue to keep you reading from the first page. The Writing Circle follows a group of writers and their social and moral struggles over the integrity of their work and of their attractions. Love and friendship end up leading to both happiness and disaster. Various pieces of writing presented by the different members create another textual layer, alongside the clever dialogue and an alternating point of view. The final events spiral out from one another, forcing us to examine the boundaries between life and art, as well as the consequences of ambition. I highly recommend this as a summer read.

posted by KLOKO on July 19, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Great Read

The Writing Circle presented very real people to me. They all had flaws and insecurities. They were not perfect people, acting perfectly. How they lives become related drives this story. This book is still making me think as I reflect on the characters or the storyline...
The Writing Circle presented very real people to me. They all had flaws and insecurities. They were not perfect people, acting perfectly. How they lives become related drives this story. This book is still making me think as I reflect on the characters or the storyline. Everyone in the book discussion I was in had very strong feelings and very different feelings about scenes and characters in the book. This all makes a good book.

posted by pen21 on June 18, 2010

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  • Posted June 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Read

    The Writing Circle presented very real people to me. They all had flaws and insecurities. They were not perfect people, acting perfectly. How they lives become related drives this story. This book is still making me think as I reflect on the characters or the storyline. Everyone in the book discussion I was in had very strong feelings and very different feelings about scenes and characters in the book. This all makes a good book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2010

    Summer Reading

    For information regarding the plot/synopsis, please see the description of The Writing Circle. I consider myself to be an avid reader and I had the opportunity to read The Writing Circle as part of Barnes & Noble's First Look Book Club. I had a difficult time getting started with the book at first because the plot was slow to develop and I disliked several of the characters. The last third of the book was fast-paced and interesting and I wish the first two-thirds of the book had been as engaging. The ending left me shocked and wanting more.

    There were a few bedroom scenes that seemed gratuitous and I didn't feel like they enhanced the character development or plot in the least. I deemed these vignettes unnecessary and somewhat off-putting.

    Overall, the book was fairly engaging and thought-provoking. I would recommend it to others and think it would create many opportunities for discussion as a book club selection.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2010

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    Interesting...

    Well written and intriguing. I was surprised at a twist toward the end of the book and found the last 50 pages pretty climactic. Unfortunately, I found the end less than satisfying. This was a good book club pick and provoked lively conversation, but ultimately it won't make my personal library of favorites that I want to read time and time again.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    C-

    While I held high hopes and expectations after reading the synopsis of The Writing Circle, in the end I was somewhat disappointed.
    The myriad characters, felt undeveloped in the beginning, and so, to me, unidentifiable leaving me with a feeling of apathy toward the characters and confusion in regard to the book's overall flow.
    While the storyline was good, I felt the novel to be fragmented and disjointed.
    The novel struck me as an unfinished gem which could have greatly benefitted through a bit more polishing.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    The ending will surprise you

    The Writing Circle has an interesting set-up: a woman (Nancy) working on a very personal novel is invited to join a writing group made up of (mostly) established writers in several genres (The Leopardis) as a replacement for the group's original coordinator, Helene (who, unfortunately, died before the novel started). From there, the narrative of the story is shared between the members of the group, with a few non-group narrators, using a limited third-person point-of-view and this allows us to see the interpersonal relationships/problems of the group without too much exposition. I have an affinity for novels written using multiple narrators because a) you get more perspectives and b) you have to decide which person has the most "reliable" voice.

    I can't discuss much more of the plot because it would give too much away; I will say I was surprised to see the novel head in the direction it did. The structure of the novel with the shared narration among seven or eight characters did not lend itself to the climax of the novel which was essentially between two chracters. I think at least one character from the group gets left behind in the narration; because the plot moves in an entirely different direction, his personal story (started near the beginning of the book and remaining oustide the writing group) becomes superfluous and peters out without any sense of resolution.

    Demas has a very descriptive style and she does a great job setting up each member of the circle; the group members are all distinctly different from one another, so it seems a little too diverse a group at times, but at least I didn't get them confused. The beginning of the novel is a bit ho-hum but Demas's strongest writing comes near the end of the novel and those two or three chapters are so strong, in my opinion, that they could really stand alone as a short story or novella. We had a great FLBC discussion about several issues raised in the book (the idea of "trust" in a writing circle was important), the best discussion related to a plot point I can't talk about here because that would really give the plot away (sorry, but it's a new book and I'm not going to spoil the story just for the sake of review).

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2010

    An interesting and thought-provoking read

    This book tells the stories of the members the Leopardi Circle. It starts with the introduction of a new member, Nancy, to the group. It quickly becomes apparent that all is not as it seems and as the story develops we learn about the complex issues each member experiences. The book is organized so that each chapter changes focus to a different character.

    I really enjoyed the changing perspective of the book. I feel that as a reader I get to see more details about a larger cast of character than if we followed just one of the members. Additionally, it had the hook of making me want to read more. To see what was happening next. The book takes a number of unexpected twists and turns and managed to touch on many dramas that I could see happening in real people's lives. I liked that the situations did seemed contrived.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 23, 2010

    Good for a book club

    I had the opportunity to read this book through the B&N first look book club. The book is about a group of people who get together to discuss the book they are writing & it also describes their personal lives. I was really interested in the beginning of the book but felt that the middle dragged & then it got better at the end of the book. I did not like that the story kept jumping from one character to another, just when I was getting interested in their story it moved on to another character. I was hoping that certain details from the beginning were discussed before the book ended.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2010

    It was okay

    I read this book as a B&N First Look participant on the Nook. The book is a little difficult to get into, but once you are in, it picks up nicely. Some of the characters are very likeable, while others are very skippable. I really wanted to know what became of some of them, but there are many open ends left after the conclusion. There's a trick ending, but I was very unhappy with it. As I said in the headline, I thought this book was okay.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2010

    So-So

    I was given the opportunity to read this book through the First Look book club.

    I wasn't impressed. At first, when the book started, I couldn't put it down. But that was short lived. Then it was all downhill. It kinda dragged through-out the middle and I actually contemplated not finishing it. Toward the end it picked up again.

    This book has too many characters and their lives are pretty depressing.

    I would say if you need a good book for a book club, this would be it. There's so many characters and so many stories brought together that there would be some discussions. However, if you just want a summer read I'd bypass this altogether.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2010

    great book club book!

    I read this for B&N's First Look book club, and it prompted a lot of really great discussion. The book itself was ok, with a nice mystery going on throughout. Peeking into the characters' lives is kind of like people watching; you'll find yourself appalled at what some people will do.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 23, 2010

    OK but flawed

    You might think from the the title that The Writing Circle is about a writing group. It is in a way, but it is more about the lives of the people who are members of the group. It is a dysfunctional group made up of dysfunctional people. Little of the book takes place at group meetings. Even less of the book focuses on writing even though plagarism is a major theme. Too much detail about the characters is introduced that does not advance the story, along with too many minor characters. The real theme of the book is introduced 30 pages from the end. It is resolved quickly with the book ending abruptly and dissatisfyingly. The idea for the book is interesting. It's an easy read and held my attention, but I spent much of my time wondering what brought these people together and what compelled them to stay together. There are a lot of unanswered questions. I may have had different expectations for the book. I wish that it had focused more on writing which would have made the group dynamics more believable. Without the writing, there is no reason for them to be together.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2010

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    Picks up in the middle

    I read this book for the on-line book club. I was very glad this was a book club book or I may not have found the time to continue to read the story. Due to the writing style, this book is great for a book club as many people's input helps the reader. Overall, once I made it half way through the book, it became very enjoyable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2010

    The Writing Circle

    I was really looking forward to reading this book, but unfortunately I was a little disappointed with it. Generally I love books that switch character perspective and narrator but in this story the narrator remained in third person. So while the chapters switched from one character to another, we didn't gain much additional insight into the characters themselves. It was easy to feel sympathetic toward these characters however, I often found myself wondering what the point of the whole book was. The plot was rather slow moving, and only picked up toward the end. To that end, when at the end of the book, I couldn't help but wonder why some of the characters were even included, or at the very least, why were they given their own chapters, as they ended up having nothing at all to do with the end. Not to mention, several of the characters- major and minor- simply just disappeared at random times throughout the story and we heard nothing more about them. All in all, I was rather disappointed with the whole plot of the book, as well as the overall writing style.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2010

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    The Writing Circle

    I wanted to like this book, but initially it was difficult. The author's style is engaging, and the premise was fascinating. However, I found the first half of the book somewhat disjointed, and the characters rather shallow. But keep going; the book picks up tremendously in the second half. Startling events occur and at that point, I simply had to know how the plot resolved itself.

    Overall though, while the ending answered questions, it was not particularly satisfying. Because I participated in the First Look online discussion, many interesting points were discussed. Ultimately, I simply can't figure out why it all mattered.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2010

    Just okay

    "They call themselves The Leopardi Circle - six members of a writing group who share much more than their works in progress." The description of The Writing Circle captured my interest, and I had high hopes for this book. Having finished the book, I have to admit that I was a little dissappointed.

    For me, the story was a bit hard to get into. Not one but two prefaces hooked me right in, but once I got into the book itself, the shifting of perspective from chapter to chapter prevented me from really digging in and connecting with any of the characters right away. I was rewarded, however, for sticking with the story. The plot is quite good and I found myself getting sucked in and not wanting to put the book down. The reward was short-lived, though, because the ending of the book was very abrupt and left me feeling like the story was not sufficiently wrapped up.

    So, all in all, this is just an okay read. It was by far not one of the best books I have ever read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2010

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    I wanted this book to be better...

    I read this book as part of the Barnes and Noble First Look. I was really excited too that they released it on ebook format and I was able to read it on my Nook. I was really looking forward to reading this as I was intrigued by the premise of the story. I think this book disappointed me a little. Each chapter is told through the point of view of a different character and I think this is what really flaws the book. Since we jump around so much from character to character, spending little time with each, I feel as if the characters were not as fleshed out as they could have been. Plus, when one character is doing something that has an effect on another, we really don't see that reaction from the other character. I will say the only character that really provoked any emotion in my was Gillian. I hated her. She is such an awful person. So kudos to the author for being able to at least write that character so well. The ending of this book too is very disappointing, and rather than having an ending that redeems the book, this one just made it worse in my opinion.
    All in all, not the best read out there lately for me, but not unworthy of reading either if you are looking to pass an afternoon or weekend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2010

    Slow, character-driven tale

    I've participated in writing groups and I thought this would be an interesting book. The writing is reasonably solid and there are some good passages, but somehow this book simply didn't deliver for me.
    It may be that because this book is more character than plot driven and most of the characters simply weren't all that compelling or fleshed out completely that this book just seemed a bit weak. It could be that if I'm reading about a group of elitist writers I expect the author to be someone who can write above the level of someone who can churn out novel after novel.
    I thought the different perspectives was a terrific idea, although at times it felt like the camera angle was off kilter. Most of the time, especially towards the end of the tale I was wondering why certain viewpoints were included-- Chris' life might be interesting enough, but in the long run it was rather pointless. Ditto for Bernard (although at least he served some point).
    I kept waiting for something to happen...eventually, more than half way through the book, something did happen. It was a deliciously interesting idea and I think every writer in a writing group is concerned someone in that group might not be honorable...but somehow once the plot comes out, it sort of deflates and all the characters scatter and go their own way for the most part. It was disappointing that Gillian's perspective wasn't all that strong through the book and you were stuck seeing her from other people's eyes and not her own. You want to sympathize with her but she's so distant...even from herself.
    This might be a book for other types of readers...I'm sure there are some people out there who will really enjoy the story. The setting is nicely done for the most part and you can see that the author was crafting this book instead of just throwing crap together like so many people who are published do.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Highs and Lows Abound

    "The Writing Circle," to me, had both highs and lows. As a writer, it's always interesting to see the way other writing circles work. In the novel's case, the writers are the cream of the crop; one member is even in line to win the Pulitzer. The novel is held together by the voice of newcomer Nancy, but even with her narrating the most chapters, every other member had a POV as well. This made it hard to follow at times, especially if you put the book down for a week. I constantly had to refresh myself on who was who with a couple of the characters. Because of the way the voice was split, it was hard for any one character to be fully fleshed out. I didn't care for anyone's plight as much as I have with other works. There was one character I had extreme dislike for, but no one that I overly loved. Writer issues in the text struck a chord with me, especially with how to deal with the work of fellow group members after listening to what they wrote. I could emphasize with a major plot point in the novel and felt that it should have been explored more; this is where the heart of the story is, especially because it completely shapes one character in particular. The novel has a lot of potential; I wish it had been fleshed out more. The concept is great and Corinne Demas definitely has a writing future ahead of her, especially as she delves further into her characters in future works.

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  • Posted July 21, 2010

    Good characters, but plot came too late and dropped at the end!

    I was lucky enough to get to read this book before it was out and was really looking forward to a great book, the first I would read on my brand new Nook! I still love my Nook, but was disappointed in the book. In the beginning I enjoyed the characters, even though I had to concentrate to keep them straight. I kept waiting for more to develop and suddenly when I thought it was going to move, the story stopped! What a letdown!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 7, 2010

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    A Complicated Web

    The Writing Circle is a book about a variety of authors and the web that their lives spin. These authors form a group to critique each others' writings. As you move from one character to another, you see how their lives are connected and who ends up caught in the web. Comparisons and connections of their lives are discovered through glimpses of their writings.
    The plot is difficult to discern and the characters hard to follow. The reader may find it difficult to find organization in this web and understand the importance of all the connections. The plot is interesting, but much is left to your imagination.
    I read this book through an ereader First Look selection. It was worth the read, but I would like to see this author fine tune their writing style in the future.

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