Book review: City of Friends by Joanna Trollope

Monday, February 6, 2017 Permalink

To the best of my knowledge I’ve not previously read a novel by Joanna Trollope. I’ve heard of the popular English author of course, but tend to assume her books wouldn’t be of interest – relegating them to the part of my life I’ve left elsewhere. The time in which I loved and read Maeve Binchy, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Danielle Steel and the like.

So it’s always a surprise when I find myself reading something which seems alien and familiar (and comfortable) at the same time.

Book review: City of Friends by Joanna TrollopeCity of Friends
by Joanna Trollope
Published by Pan Macmillan
on January 31st 2017
Genres: Literary Fiction, Women's Fiction
ISBN: 1509846751, 9781509846757
Pages: 336

The day Stacey Grant loses her job feels like the last day of her life. Or at least, the only life she'd ever known. For who was she if not a City high-flyer, Senior Partner at one of the top private equity firms in London?

As Stacey starts to reconcile her old life with the new—one without professional achievements or meetings, but instead, long days at home with her dog and ailing mother, waiting for her successful husband to come home—she at least has The Girls to fall back on.

Beth, Melissa and Gaby. The girls, now women, had been best friends from the early days of university right through their working lives, and through all the happiness and heartbreaks in between.

But these career women all have personal problems of their own, and when Stacey's redundancy forces a betrayal to emerge that was supposed to remain secret, their long cherished friendships will be pushed to their limits...

I received an early copy of this book but put it aside as I wasn’t sure if I’d read it. Until I did. I wasn’t enjoying another book and it’d put me off reading (at all) for a few nights. I finally decided to toss it aside and give this a try. And I couldn’t put it down.

And… in reality I have no freakin’ idea why I don’t read more ‘women’s fiction’ or similar. I’m not overly fond of saga-like books (spanning decades) any more, but I actually don’t mind reading about the lives of people (other than serial killing psychopaths, in my fave crime fiction genre)… as long as they’re not too perfect.

I mostly stay away from romances as they feel like a bit of a taunt: reminding me of what I don’t have and may never have; but women whose lives are slightly f*cked… I’m all for that!

And I devoured this book in a sitting. I started late so it meant a late night but it didn’t stop me.

I enjoyed all of the characters and – though all a bit too successful to be true! – found them realistic and kinda typical. Their challenges felt very real. Their relationships felt real. And their friendships felt real.

I suspect I particularly enjoyed it because it focussed on issues I’ve been grappling with of late: I could relate to Stacey’s identity being very much wrapped up in what she did for a living and those questions about  one’s role/ meaning in life if you’re not working or being ‘productive’ (as society and we, ourselves’ determine!).

And then there was Stacey’s mother’s battle with vascular dementia… which my own father suffered, and her decision (initially) to have her mother live with her and her husband. Thankfully my own mother is healthy but I know there will be a time we have to make a decision about her care. Here, Stacey credits her mother with being incredibly encouraging and supportive as she grew up and feels she needs (and wants) to repay that now. But can she?

And then there are the tests put on friendships as life intervenes and priorities change.

I am so glad I read this book and could metaphorically kick myself for thinking I might not. There’s surely a lesson there for me as this is a wonderful read.

City of Friends by Joanna Trollope was published in Australia by Pan Macmillan and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 

Do you often find yourself surprised by the types of books you enjoy?

  • Jo
    February 6, 2017

    I’ve got not ever read a few by Joanna Trollope & given that I’ve enjoyed each, wonder why it is I’ve only read a few.

    • Debbish
      February 6, 2017

      I’d heard of her of course but wasn’t sure if they were ‘my’ sort of book. I held onto this copy because I could relate to the backcover blurb so thought it might be of interest. And a friend was over Sat night and saw it (next to the bath awaiting my attention) and said she was keen to read it. It kinda reminded me I was going to attempt it. I actually really quite enjoy books like that – contemporary / women’s fiction – but just don’t read enough of them.

  • Kate W
    February 6, 2017

    Great review. My mum loves Trollope…and has a birthday coming up, so sorted!

  • Katherine P
    February 6, 2017

    There are a few genres I read sporadically and always find myself wondering why I don’t read more! I haven’t read Joanna Trollope though I have no idea why. This sounds like a great read and one that would really pull me in. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Debbish
      February 7, 2017

      Oh yes, I was really hooked Katherine!

  • Janet Camilleri (@middleagedmama1)
    February 7, 2017

    I’ve never read Joanna Trollope either putting her into much the same category as you had – but this sounds right up my alley. Will keep an eye out for it!

  • Laurel-Rain Snow
    February 12, 2017

    I am looking forward to this book, as my experience with the author is how much I enjoy the way her characters struggle with issues just like real people.

    Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Debbish
      February 12, 2017

      Oh yes Laurel, I found them very relatable!!!

  • Elaine
    February 24, 2017

    Not her best but a great read. I didn’t like the tidy ending of Melissa and the school teacher. Loved the first chapter when she arrived home and she didn’t receive what she expected. That was more true to life I thought.
    Tom was written well. Difficult to get a person of that age and gender she did it.

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