Review: ‘The Graduate’ by Charles Webb

I recently graduated from the University of York, and so my Mum bought me this iconic novel to celebrate!

It was really interesting to finally read this book, as “Mrs Robinson” and the “older woman, younger boy” dynamic are often joked about in other TV programmes, films, and books. And so while reading this, it was funny to see well known lines from when they were first written.

‘The Graduate’ is about a young man, Benjamin who has recently graduated from college. He is a model student, a member of many school societies, and winner of various college prizes. He is set on the Ivy League path, and his parents are all set for him to start graduate school and become a teacher.

But this isn’t what Benjamin wants. He doesn’t want to study any more, and instead he wants to work, enjoy himself, and find out what kind of man he is.

At the start of the book, Benjamin speaks with his dad’s friend, Mr Robinson, about life for a young man after graduation. Mr Robinson encourages Benjamin to “have some fun” before he has to settle down, and he suggests he should see multiple women and enjoy his youth. Little does Mr Robinson know that his wife has been making advances on young Benjamin, attempting to “seduce” him behind her husband’s back.

And things soon become complicated even more. Benjamin also finds himself drawn to Mrs Robinson’s daughter, Elaine, and the story experiences more twists and turns as Benjamin struggles to figure out what kind of man he is- and what kind of woman he wants to settle down with.

This book was really enjoyable to read, and I found it very funny in places. It’s so straight forward in its descriptions of the affair, as well as Benjamin’s thoughts about his sexuality, and his future plans. While this was sometimes a little unnerving in the more intimate scenes, I really enjoyed the writing style.

“Two days after he got home from the trip Benjamin decided to begin his affair with Mrs Robinson”.

I loved the descriptions of Mrs Robinson’s “seduction” and her fashion and outfits were described with intimate detail by Webb. I could really imagine this enchanting older woman.

The dynamic between Benjamin and Mrs Robinson, however, was very strange. It never really seemed completely consensual between the two of them, with Benjamin very reluctant to start the affair. The whole thing felt very uncomfortable- which I guess was the point.

I don’t often read books from the male point of view, but it was interesting to read a boy’s take on the action of the novel. I liked Benjamin’s expression of his thoughts on his life post-graduation, and it’s clear that while this book is about Benjamin’s scandalous love life, it’s also about his lack of focus, direction, or hope as he tries to work out what he wants his life to be about.

My Mum bought me a lovely copy of this book, so check out my Instagram account for a lovely image of this present, and the bookmark she bought for me to go along with it!

Have you read this book? Would you give it a go? Have you watched the film?

Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy reading x

Picture credits here

20 thoughts

  1. I haven’t seen either the movie nor read the book, but this does sound like an interesting, albeit a bit awkward one. Not sure how I feel about the relationship, but I am also curious about it.. if that is the correct word. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Saw The Graduate when it first came out. Made Dustin Hoffman a star. Also the first use of vocal music in a film, before that all instrumentals. Start of film soundtracks becoming an additional source of revenue. Loved the film; never read the book.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.