Our Kind

A Novel in Stories

Our Kind

  • 1
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.
  • Scribner | 
  • 208 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743245609 | 
  • December 2004
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Reading Group Guide

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 save ourselves"?
4. What is your response to Esther, in "Esther's Walter"? Do the women really "love" her? Share your reactions to the group's discussions while at Esther's. How do their actions speak louder than words? Why is Walter's portrait important, and what does it represent? Discuss Esther's "surprise." Compare what happened at the intervention and at Esther's and discuss what these events tell you about the group.
5. Describe Bambi in "Bambi Breaks for Freedom." What does Remington Jackson represent? What does her desire to see him represent?
6. To what does "Screw Martha" refer? What is symbolic about the perception of, and what is to be done to, the geese at the country club? Consider the paragraph near the end of "Screw Martha" that reads, "She see more

Articles About This Book

Off the shelf vertical blog post

Posted on Off the Shelf

Posted by Off the Shelf Staff

Certain books redefine the way we think about storytelling. These eleven episodic novels do not follow traditional linear storylines, but don’t think of them as short story collections either. Read as a whole, these narratives illuminate in their...

More Books from this Author

The Sunken Cathedral
The Gardens of Kyoto
A Short History of Women

About the Author

Kate Walbert
Photograph by Deborah Donenfeld

Kate Walbert

Kate Walbert is the author of the novels A Short History of Women, named a top ten best book by The New York Times Book Review and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Our Kind, nominated for the National Book Award; and The Gardens of Kyoto, winner of the Connecticut Book Award. Walbert’s stories have been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and the O. Henry Awards, and have twice been included in The Best American Short Stories.

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