REVIEWED BY DEBS CARR
Laura is an ex-actress. She gave up her fledgling career to look after her only child, Jamie and has spent her son's school years sharing school-runs, children's parties and much gossip with her closest friend Clover. The other woman in their lives, is Alice, a once broke, but now increasingly successful business woman, who despite everyone's interest refuses to divulge her daughter's father. The threesome socialize together and although Alice has done more working than her fair share of childcare, the other two don't mind too much.
Their children have all finished school and the youngest ones are leaving for university. It's a time of change in all their lives, whether they'd expected it to be or not. Laura is a little lost. She's revolved her entire life around her son since his traumatic birth and although she's still married to her handsome husband, Tim, she finds fault in everything he does. Clover and her husband George aren't as devastated by the changes in their circumstances and intend travelling and making the most of their freedom while they're still young enough to do so.
As Alice seems to become more distant to them, the two women begin to look back at how equal their friendships actually were. They start to find fault in her seeming selfishness and clever manipulation of not only themselves, but the men in their social circles too. Just when Laura starts to think that she can't carry on as she is, without her son and with her marriage nothing more than a pretence, something happens to her and to her husband that rocks her world. She learns that the strong, vital woman she remembers being is still inside and that she has more to enjoy as well as fight for than she could have ever anticipated.
Clover, on the other hand, finds Alice's behaviour towards her unnecessary and cruel and finds herself in a position where she feels a need to defend herself and her lifestyle. She expects her husband, George, to support her, but he has other things on his mind and ends up adding to her concerns instead of alleviating them.
This book is beautifully written. I hadn't read any of Nina Bell's other books before, but I'll certainly have to do so now. The relationships between the women, the women and their children and also Laura's and Clover's marriages, as circumstances change unexpectedly and roles are irreversibly altered was riveting. I didn't think there was much depth to Laura when I first started reading, but I was wrong and ended up enjoying her story most of all.