From The Paris Review 1961
What about the novel you’re writing while you’re here
It’s called The Group, and it’s about eight Vassar girls. It starts with the inauguration of Roosevelt, and—well, at first it was going to carry them up to the present time, but then I decided to stop at the inauguration of Eisenhower. It was conceived as a kind of mock-chronicle novel. It’s a novel about the idea of progress, really. The idea of progress seen in the female sphere, the feminine sphere. You know, home economics, architecture, domestic technology, contraception, childbearing; the study of technology in the home, in the playpen, in the bed. It’s supposed to be the history of the loss of faith in progress, in the idea of progress, during that twenty-year period.
INTERVIEWERAre these eight Vassar girls patterned more or less after ones you knew when you were there in college?
McCARTHYSome of them are drawn pretty much from life, and some of them are rather composite. I’ve tried to keep myself out of this book. Oh, and all their mothers are in it. That’s the part I almost like the best.
INTERVIEWERJust the mothers, not the fathers?
McCARTHYNot the fathers. The fathers vaguely figure, offstage and so on, but the mothers are really monumentally present!
And from The Observer, 2009
On the eve of its reissue, Elizabeth Day assesses Mary McCarthy's seminal novel, The Group,