Summary and book reviews of Our Kind by Kate Walbert

Our Kind

A Novel in Stories

by Kate Walbert

Our Kind
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2004, 195 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2005, 208 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A thought-provoking novel that opens a window into the world of a generation and class of women caught in a cultural limbo.

From the award-winning author of The Gardens of Kyoto comes this witty and incisive novel about the lives and attitudes of a group of women -- once country-club housewives; today divorced, independent, and breaking the rules.

In Our Kind, Kate Walbert masterfully conveys the dreams and reality of a group of women who came into the quick rush of adulthood, marriage, and child-bearing during the 1950s. Narrating from the heart of ten companions, Walbert subtly depicts all the anger, disappointment, vulnerability, and pride of her characters: "Years ago we were led down the primrose lane, then abandoned somewhere near the carp pond."

Now alone, with their own daughters grown, they are finally free -- and ready to take charge: from staging an intervention for the town deity to protesting the slaughter of the country club's fairway geese, to dialing former lovers in the dead of night.

Walbert's writing is quick-witted and wry, just like her characters, but also, in its cumulative effect, moving and sad. Our Kind is a brilliant, thought-provoking novel that opens a window into the world of a generation and class of women caught in a cultural limbo.



Contents

The Intervention

Esther's Walter

Bambi Breaks for Freedom

Screw Martha

Come As You Were

Sick Chicks

Warriors

Back When They Were Children

The Hounds, Again

The Beginning of the End

Chapter One: The Intervention

It was one of those utterances that sparkled -- the very daring! Could you see us? Canoe shrugged, to be expected. After all, Canoe was our local recovering; it was she who left those pamphlets in the clubhouse next to the men's Nineteenth Hole.

Still, the very daring!

Intervention.

Canoe cracked her knuckles, lit a cigarette. We sat by her swimming pool absentmindedly pulling weeds from around the flagstones. The ice of our iced tea had already melted into water and it was too cold to swim, besides.

"It's obvious," Canoe said, blowing. "He's going to kill himself in less than a month. I don't want that blood on my hands."

Who would?

He was someone we loved. Someone we ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Who is narrating? Discuss the use of the first person plural -- is it effective? How does it alter your view of these friendships?

  2. Who are "Our Kind"? What kind of women are they? How does the narration, language and style reflect or enhance the story and the characters? Share an example that you find particularly effective.

  3. In "The Intervention," what does it mean when the narrator says, "we've seen a lot, it's true, but know so little. How were we to learn? Years ago we were led down the primrose lane, then abandoned somewhere near the carp pond"? What is the significance of the intervention? At the chapter's end, why does the narrator say, "We must save Him, quick. But first, no. We must ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Despite glowing media reviews, these connected short stories are hard going and not as enjoyable as Walbert's earlier book, 'The Gardens of Kyoto' It is not clear if it was the ephemeral writing style or the subject matter that didn't gel...the characters would work better if they said what they had to say, instead of making the reader do the work of understanding them - especially as the reader may not be interested enough in the characters' lives to make the effort.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (274 words).

Media Reviews

Organic Style

Walbert adores her characters...they're...giddy, resilient possessors of a girlish beauty. They have a blast; the reader does too.

Chicago Tribune

A portrait emerges from selective moments--some sharp and painful, others tender and questing. They evoke all the details.

Newsday

There's no denying Walbert's talent - or her ambition.

The New York Times - Jennifer Egan

One of the many pleasures to be found in Our Kind, a ''novel in stories,'' is the fact that Walbert's chosen genre is acutely suited to her artistic goals.....Had Walbert tried to force her material into a more conventional format, the result would very likely have been diffuse and flat. In its present form, though, Our Kind works pragmatically, and its fractured telling accumulates a sneaky, wrenching power.

The Washington Post - Elizabeth Gold

Walbert, author of The Gardens of Kyoto, has written a touching and often surreal group of linked stories about being born a little too late for one era and a little too early for the next.

The New York Times Book Review - Laura Miller

[E]xquisite. Of all [the] first-person narrators, this gang is the most inviting. They are good company.

Booklist - Elsa Gaztambide

Walbert daringly depicts the golden years of a generation of women, better described as the 1950s country-club set, now that they're either divorced or widowed and their homes are devoid of children.....An eye-opening experience for anyone who thinks that the 1950s woman is still in the kitchen wearing a housecoat.

Publishers Weekly

In an era when women went to college to study the three Gs Grooming, Grammar, and Grace, Walbert's characters are caught like insects in amber as they make late-in-life discoveries no school could ever teach. Brittle, funny and poignant, this is a prickly treat.

Kirkus Reviews

Whole lives are handled with grace, deftness, and skill . . . [these pieces] are among the finest there can be.

Reader Reviews

Easily annoyed

I would recommend to no one this collection of muddled, poorly written, sophomoric stories. I know this book got good reviews. Why? Do reviewers these days consider it creative to neglect rules of grammar and logic? Good writing is what it is ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Kate Walbert made her writing debut in 1998 with Where She Went, a collection of interlinked stories about the lives and travels of a mother and daughter.  Marion moves frequently, a lifestyle that never permits her to form a stable identity. Her daughter Rebecca, by contrast, travels with the intent of "finding herself," but only becomes more and more rootless in the process. The New York Times named Where She Went a Notable Book of 1998 and said that it "contains many quick flashes of beauty. . .it goes far and takes us with it."

In 2001 ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Our Kind, try these:

  • Becoming Strangers jacket

    Becoming Strangers

    by Louise Dean

    Published 2007

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Two couples meet in a luxurious Caribbean resort - one pair older, the other younger. As their paths cross during the week, each couple struggles with what has been keeping them apart.

  • Broken For You jacket

    Broken For You

    by Stephanie Kallos

    Published 2005

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Funny, heartbreaking, and alive with a potpourri of eccentric and irresistible characters, Broken for You is a testament to the saving graces of surrogate families, and shows how far the tiniest repair jobs can go in righting the world’s wrongs.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Stalin's Daughter
    by Rosemary Sullivan
    "There is something fatal about my life. You can't regret your fate, though I do regret my ...
  • Book Jacket: A Certain Age
    A Certain Age
    by Beatriz Williams
    Lovers of high-society gossip, there's a new set of players in town. A good 20 out of 23 of our...
  • Book Jacket: The Romanovs
    The Romanovs
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    The Romanovs chronicles the reigns of the 20 individuals who were considered members of that dynasty...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    All Is Not Forgotten
    by Wendy Walker

    This is fast-paced psychological suspense/thriller at it's very best.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Secret Language of Stones
    by M. J. Rose

    "A fantastic historical tale of war, love, loss and intrigue."
    – Melanie Benjamin

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Sweet Caress
by William Boyd

William Boyd's Sweet Caress captures an entire lifetime unforgettably within its pages. It captivates.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!