Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Release: A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy

I went out on a topical limb and agreed to read the new-to-the-U.S. A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy by Charlotte Greig. This book, set in 1970s England, is the story of a college-age philosophy student, Susannah, who must make the most important decision of her short life when she finds out she is pregnant. To complicate the issue, she is most likely pregnant not by the 30-something antiques dealer that she lives with but the young philosophy student that she has been having an affair with for the past few months. Because she is still finding her way in the world, she turns to the philosophers that she is studying in an attempt to build her own belief system.

This book started out promisingly with the revelation of Susannah's settled but lonely life and her search for happiness. Unfortunately, I shortly became annoyed with Susannah and her dishonesty and ambivalence. It wasn't that the character was badly written -- in fact I believe it was a rather accurate portrait of many college age youth. I think it was rather that I no longer relate with or have sympathy for this sort of character -- the student that hasn't found their way in the world and takes each philosophy they encounter to heart as if it was the greatest truth they had ever heard ... until they hear the next one.

Some parts of this story were poignant and touching but others were just obvious and stereotypical. Also, the ending was strangely abrupt. And yet I didn't dislike this book. I guess I would say that the plot of the novel was thoughtful but the execution was a bit uneven. As this is Greig's first novel, I think she shows promise but perhaps this one needed a bit more direction and a few less stereotypes.

Happy to be settled in my own life philosophy,

Buy A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy on Amazon or find it at your local library.


  1. I'm pretty sure I have this one in my review stack, as well. I'm not sure if this makes me MORE interested in reading it....=)

  2. I gave this book an up-and-down review because that was my experience with it but I know that there will be people that feel more strongly one way or the other. I never felt like I wanted to quit reading it but, on the other hand, I never felt particularly sympathetic to the main character so it was hard to totally engage with the book.

  3. I just finished it myself, and have to agree with your review. (I read it for a website I review for, not my own blog, so it won't end up posted at my site.) About halfway through, I just found myself getting annoyed with Susannah. Also, I didn't really care for Jason OR Rob, so couldn't sympathize with her oh-so-difficult decision. But I didn't hate it - I just wasn't terribly enthralled.

  4. Agreed. Didn't hate it but didn't love it, mostly because none of the characters were likeable (except maybe the cool zoologist girl!).