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Book Review City of Friends Joanna Trollope
I wouldn’t say that Joanna Trollope is one of my favourite authors but I have certainly enjoyed some of her novels, particularly Other People’s Children and Marrying the Mistress, both of which could be said to have influenced my own novel on divorce, re-marriage and step-children Out of Step.
Jonanna Trollope’s novels are well-crafted. Like mine, they don’t seek to judge or address issues, they simply present them for the reader to experience and make up their own mind.
In her more recent novels she has explored many modern dilemmas: divorce, step-families and adoption for example.
This latest novel City of Friends deals with women who juggle home lives and high-flying careers.
The main characters met at university and have kept in touch through thick and thin ever since. Unfortunately even though the chapter titles helpfully tell us which character’s life we are experiencing at the time, I found all the women sounded the same in my head and I became confused about their husbands and children’s names, the names of their pets and their lovers, past and present. The characters themselves were cardboard, particularly the husbands and children who all seemed too perfect to be true, the husbands bringing home wine and flowers and the children cooking dinner for their mother. None of these things happened to me when I was a working mother!
The conversations, too, seemed false. I have had two sons and I know for definite that neither of them would have been interested in the slightest if I had told them that one of my friends had lost her job. He certainly wouldn’t have sat down with me and discussed at length how we could support her. Neither would he have been in the least interested in any of my other female friends and their lives. And there is no way I could ever imagine going around to his thirteen year old girlfriend’s house to talk about an extremely brief “relationship” they had and how it has affected him.
The work scenarios are equally false, with the emphasis being on designer offices, clothes and shoes and secretaries and colleagues who behave in a way that nobody ever does in real life.
I’m not sure what made Joanna Trollope choose a subject which she knew so little about but even if she had researched it carefully I’m not sure it would make the book anything more than mediocre
Bethany Askew is the author of five novels:
The Time Before, The World Within, Out of Step, Counting the Days and Poppy’s Seed.
She has also written a short story, The Night of the Storm, and she writes poetry.
Future projects include a new short story, this one for the young adult market, and another full-length novel.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, music, theatre, walking, Pilates, dancing and voluntary work.
Bethany is married and lives in Somerset.