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Reading ‘The Interestings’ in Fort William

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The book: The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer

The place: Fort William, Scotland

I have been feeling rather ground down by the state of the world lately, and so to read this book, which is kind and gentle and about a collection of genuinely good characters who are trying their best and behaving decently to one another, was like stepping into a warm bath at the end of a tiring day. Which makes it sound rather more anodyne than it is: The Interestings has a lot of very interesting (ha) things to say about the nature of envy – particularly as applied to close friends – and the various ways one fails to get what one wants, and the sometimes blighting effects of childhood promise. It reminded me quite strongly of another book that I’ve just read (and thoroughly enjoyed), AD Miller’s The Faithful Couple. Both Miller and Wolitzer write compellingly and convincingly about the malaise that seems to strike many people in their early to mid-thirties when they really start to understand – belatedly – that perhaps they are actually not that special. While I normally have very limited sympathy for novels about the plight of middle class white people living lives of enormous privilege (globally speaking), both Wolitzer and Miller write with such warmth about their characters, which I always find beguiling.

Lovely (if brief) Easter break with a few friends up to the Highlands. The original plan – following our heroic ascent of Snowdon last August, and our subsequent grand ambitions to scale the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales over a 24-month period (rather than the rather showy-offy 24-hour period embraced by the Three Peaks Challenge) – had been to climb Ben Nevis, but we discovered that the tourist path was still closed by snow, and group consensus was not to attempt a guided ascent with crampons and ice-axes, so we focused on fine dining (the Crannog one night, the Lime Tree the second, both of which were excellent) and what was supposed to be a fairly gentle hike into the Lost Valley from Glencoe, but which ended up with ten of us clinging to a vertiginous sheet of scree just below the snow line, while sensible people who had taken the correct path pointed at us from below and (probably) debated whether they needed to call Mountain Rescue.

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One of the world’s best train routes: somewhere between Glasgow and Fort William

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Rare photo of self, enjoying an over-ambitious outdoor beer. (That is a half-pint, I am not freakishly large.)

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Sunset over Lock Eil

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Dramatic highland weather

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And more

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At the bottom of the scree: about to make a very bad decision

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Written by Jess

April 7, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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