Don't be too quick to dismiss this skillfully crafted novel as mere "women's fiction." Men tend to scorn this stuffto be seen reading it in public would be like wearing pantyhose to work. But men could learn a lot from some earnest perusal of books like theseabout their own intrinsic power and, more vulgarly perhaps, their ability to scorebecause, despite their sincere protestations, women need men like lungs need air.
The Washington Post
When a British retiree invites two young single mothers from the neighborhood to her flat, a Friday night tradition begins. As their klatch widens, Trollope's memorable characters do more than just represent varying female predicaments: they develop as rich individuals who come to triumph over their pasts. Paula has a wary relationship with the married man who fathered their son, Toby: she must move on, yet stay in touch for Toby's sake. Struggling Lindsay was widowed before she gave birth, while her sister, Jules, is a careless aspiring nightclub DJ with a wild streak. Independent, put-together Blaise contrasts starkly with her often bedraggled business partner, Karen, who barely manages her role as mother and breadwinner. And then there is Eleanor, the catalyst for the gatherings, a no-nonsense older woman who, though full of wisdom and spunk, keeps her thoughts to herself unless asked. When a new man enters Paula's life, Trollope (Second Honeymoon) masterfully shows how work and romance can tip the scales in female friendships. The result is a careful and compelling examination of one man's insidious effect on a group of female friends, as memorable as it is readable. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Trollope (The Rector's Wife) excels at character development and realistic dialog, two talents displayed in this novel of various women drawn together-though not over a book club or knitting group, as in many other works. Retiree Eleanor often sees Paula and Lindsay, two harried young mothers, passing on the street and decides they should have time to relax. Paula and Lindsay, who have never met each other before, turn down Eleanor's offer of babysitting but are flustered enough to accept her invitation to visit her one Friday evening. The group soon expands to include Blaise, Eleanor's neighbor; Karen, Blaise's coworker; and Jules, Lindsay's younger sister. Trollope outlines each woman's history, deftly interweaving their individual stories with those of the new connections growing among them. When Paula begins dating Jackson Miller, the equilibrium of the group is altered, and as Jackson becomes a part of all of their lives, events occur that will change the group forever. Trollope's novel rings true, portraying the complexities of contemporary women's lives without sentimentality or melodrama. Recommended.
Trollope (Second Honeymoon, 2006, etc.) freshens up a tired chick-lit device, the woman's group, in this story about a group that falls apart when one of the members falls in love. Eleanor, a retired professional who never married, began the Friday night get-togethers years earlier when she noticed two young single mothers who separately looked lonely and invited them in to her home to meet each other. The father of Paula's son Toby never left his wife and family but pays Paula child support and occasionally visits Toby, now eight. Lindsay's husband died before six-year-old Noah was born. Lindsay's waiflike younger sister Jules, an aspiring DJ, begins to show up. So does Eleanor's neighbor Blaise, a business consultant who like Eleanor has chosen work over family. Blaise introduces her business partner Karen, married and struggling to balance her domestic responsibilities with her professional ambitions. The friends find comfort and support in the Friday nights spent talking and drinking wine. Then one Friday Paula arrives with her new beau Jackson, both to show him off and get her friends' approval. A pucklike figure, the charming if emotionally elusive Jackson insinuates himself into the group, triggering a mix of reactions. Lindsay resents that Paula ignores their previously close friendship for a man. Jules believes Jackson is going to give her a career. Her marriage foundering, Karen is sexually drawn to Jackson and mistakenly thinks he is interested in her. Both Blaise and Eleanor, women without other emotional ties, suffer the loss of the community they depend on. And Paula is too gaga over Jackson to pay attention to anyone else, including needy Toby. There are no villains orheroines here, just women-and men-trying to make sense of the limits that their choices and personalities have imposed on their lives. By the time Jackson slips away, or is pushed away by Paula, the characters have realigned, wiser and mostly happier. Insightful and reassuring if a little contrived.