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.
City of Friends
by Joanna Trollope
Published by Pan Macmillan
on January 31st 2017
Buy on Amazon
Genres: Literary Fiction, Women's Fiction
ISBN: 1509846751, 9781509846757
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?