Help Choose the Next Installment of the Billfold Book (or Maybe Miniseries) Club

gillian anderson sideyeDuring our last Billfold Book Club session, it was proposed that we choose a fiction book this time and discuss how the characters handle money.

I am all for this.

My first suggestion was, of course, Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, because oh-my-goodness does that book deal with a bunch of characters who don’t know how to handle money, and then y’all upped me by suggesting the BBC Bleak House miniseries, which has the advantage of featuring Gillian Anderson and Charles Dance (aka Tywin Lannister) in lead roles and also has the advantage of not being an occasionally interminable Dickens novel. (For every mention of a megalosaurus marching down the streets of London, Dickens has to throw in an interminable passage, just to keep us off our toes.)

So I am 100% all for watching a miniseries.

Mike Dang suggested Emily Gould’s Friendship, which features the description “As Bev and Amy are dragged, kicking and screaming, into real adulthood, they have to face the possibility that growing up might mean growing apart.” (This is no fresh-outta-college story; they’re in their 30s.)

I am also 100% ready to read Friendship.

But I’m turning the remainder of the suggestions over to you: what work of fiction would you like to discuss?


24 Comments / Post A Comment

Lily Rowan (#70)

I would totally vote for the book Bleak House being the pick a couple of months from now, just to give people a chance to read it. Because they should read it!! I am often bummed out when I want to reference Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, and people don’t know what I’m talking about.

Tax Token (#6,772)

The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, anyone? :)

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@Tax Token Oh, wow. Another book with some amazing passages and some truly interminable ones. But yes, has a lot to say about people and money and I loved… um… PARTS of it. :)

Tax Token (#6,772)

@Tax Token That’s fair enough! I’m about 150 pages in, and whether I finish remains to be seen.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@Tax Token I give you permission to skim the parts that aren’t story. That might be how I “finished” the book.

I would love to read Bleak House! Although, I wouldn’t say no to watching the BBC miniseries either.

norawallis (#999)

ANYTHING by Edith Wharton, but I’m really thinking The House of Mirth is perfect for this task.

I doubt anyone else would go for this, but I just watched (and then read) North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell, and it was a FASCINATING treatment of class and money. The drama of industrializing Britain, clashes between the working and “intellectual” classes, social climbing, love from the wrong side of the tracks, snobbery, and unions. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@bowtiesarecool I just read the PBS summary. I am all for some simmering, restrained passions.

Me too! Plus this is one of them classics I haven’t read, so bring it on.

@HelloTheFuture It’s positively SMOLDERING. Watch it even if nobody else does. Richard Armitage does one heck of a tortured, self-righteous glower.

I had sort of assumed that the union/social welfare stuff in the miniseries adaptation was 21st century editorializing, but the miniseries is impressively faithful to the book. I tore through it in a day or two and was just amazed. It’s a fascinating snapshot of a time and place.

readyornot (#816)

@bowtiesarecool I totally love North & South, all parts of it. I read the book first, but I would really recommend everyone watch the BBC miniseries. Hello, Richard Armitage is super dreamy.

Heather F G (#6,074)

A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee is a REALLY interesting take on finances. It’s about a Manhattan lawyer who does something really dumb (no spoilers) which leaves his wife and daughter on their own in Westchester County. The mom tries to make ends meet by getting a new job, and strangely enough, they end up in Manhattan to better their financial situation.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@Heather F G ooooooh I have never heard of this book which INTRIGUES ME

Heather F G (#6,074)

@HelloTheFuture Oh man, it’s dripping with debatable socioeconomic drama. Also there is a Quirky Subplot in the last third that’s a little bit of a mystery…!

A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN was suggested long ago!

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@FurCoats&CinemaTropes I love A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. So much.

So it’s not fiction but its not financial advice really and its a STORY so it’s kind of the same: Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune.
I just started listening to it on audiobook and its so good and fascinating and obviously money related. Maybe not for this one but the Billfold Book Club??

ThatJenn (#916)

@Punk-assBookJockey I would love to read that for the book club at some point, even if it’s not this month!

Aunt Scar (#5,377)

Gabrielle Zevin’s The Hole W’re In is ALL about the financial mistakes people make now–ill-thought out PhDs, weddings, home refinances, and how we are going straight to financial hell.

mary_garth (#6,699)

Keeping the 19th-century novel train going: Vanity Fair (with chapter titles such as “How to Live on Nothing a Year,” plus Thackeray’s personal conviction that Becky could be a better person if she had a larger income); Middlemarch, particularly the Garths and the Vincys, not to mention Dorothea’s “I will learn what everything costs”; and Great Expectations, though I can’t comment on it in comparison to Bleak House. Its exploration of class and how people pass on money and train their kids to handle it (or not) is, I think, Billfold-worthy.

antheridia (#2,995)


EA_Mann (#5,000)


ThatJenn (#916)

I would read any and all of the books mentioned in the article and in the comments! Though maybe not all of them by the end of the month. But all of them eventually. (I’m gonna have to go back through these suggestion posts to make myself a bad-ass reading list sometime.)

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