The Friendship Test

The Friendship Test

3.8 8
by Elizabeth Noble
     
 

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One late wine- and gossip-fueled night, four friends on a lark create a fateful test of friendship -- one that challenges the very principles and boundaries of their alliance. To pass it means to never, at any cost, betray one another. Twenty years later, they must face that ultimate test.

We meet them at the dawn of their camaraderie in the 1980s and already

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Overview

One late wine- and gossip-fueled night, four friends on a lark create a fateful test of friendship -- one that challenges the very principles and boundaries of their alliance. To pass it means to never, at any cost, betray one another. Twenty years later, they must face that ultimate test.

We meet them at the dawn of their camaraderie in the 1980s and already each woman is distinguished from the other: Tamsin, the compassionate mother hen; Reagan, the brazen and clever overachiever; Sarah, the seemingly perfect beauty; and Freddie, who despite being far from her U.S. home, finds strength in her friends. We forward to today, and as promised they are still firm friends . . . that is until a crisis occurs and the principles that define their friendship test are challenged. Exquisitely rendered by Elizabeth Noble, The Friendship Test is a powerful testament to the depth and capacity of female relationships.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Noble (The Reading Group) spins another compulsively readable yarn, guided by the cozily familiar conceit of lifelong friendship taking root among vastly different gals. This fab four, deftly rendered with a few pen strokes as distinct personalities-brassy American Freddie; doting, maternal Tasmin; beautiful, sensitive Sarah; and scholarly, serious Reagan-meet in Oxford in the '80s and nurse each other through heartache and calamity with soul-baring dish sessions and fervent avowals of friendship, calling themselves the Tenko Club. The divergent threads of their adult lives are destined to knot again in 2004, after Freddie suffers a double blow with her husband's affair and her estranged father's death. Her oldest friends rally to her cause, each in her own way-from caustic honesty to fierce protectiveness-though bouts of tragedy and betrayal threaten to unravel their bonds. The action spans England and America, with a sprawling, twisty plot that will appeal to readers in both places. Noble's tender wit depicts the love among friends as steadfast and magical as any romance. Breezy and heartwarming, the novel's beach-book disposition also makes for a cozy winter read. Agent, Stephanie Cabot. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Twenty years ago, four girlfriends formed the Tenko Club, and after all this time the club is still intact-that is, until particular challenges set in motion one autumn pull at their bond in ways none of them could have fathomed as teenagers. Mother hen Tamsin rallies support for Freddie, whose husband is having an affair, while prickly Reagan, always feeling like an outsider, decides to take matters into her own hands when the object of her decades-long affection, their beloved Sarah's widower, makes a play for Freddie. While not as strong as Noble's debut, The Reading Group, this second novel is a worthy addition to the ranks of popular fiction. Noble lays bare the friends' innermost insecurities and passions with care and compassion. The crises are disproportionately borne by Freddie and Reagan, and the characters sometimes feel too "boxed in": Reagan's dysfunctional, Freddie's beautiful, Tamsin's maternal, and Sarah's a saint. Nonetheless, this novel, already released in the United Kingdom as The Tenko Club, is an emotionally charged work sure to please most fans of women's fiction. Suitable for all public libraries.-Amy Brozio-Andrews, Albany P.L., NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Freddie, Tamsin, Sarah, and Reagan met at Oxford and quickly forged a bond that continued through careers, marriages, and children. Fast-forward 18 years to the day that Freddie gets a double whammy: her husband tells her that he is seeing someone else and wants a divorce; hours later, her father's housekeeper calls from America to break the news of his death. So begins a story of friendship that captivates readers from the outset. Certainly, it is formulaic in places: as Freddie tries to come to terms with jarring life changes, she finds herself depending more and more on Sarah's widowed husband. But for the most part, Noble bestows enough imperfections in her characters and twists in the plot to take the story beyond typical romance fare. Readers will enjoy the appealing sketches of London, Cape Cod, and Boston as the friends travel across the Atlantic to help Freddie sort out the ramifications of her parent's death. Noble's second novel solidifies her reputation as a graceful and stylish writer with the ability to blend the humor and complexities of everyday friendships.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Despite the title, friendship takes a backseat to romance in British author Noble's second novel (The Reading Group, 2005) about the intersecting lives of a band of British women 20 years after they vow eternal friendship as college freshmen. The four friends meet at Oxford in 1984. Slightly overweight Tamsin is already a nurturing earth mother. Reagan is a skinny, shy bookworm. Freddie, whose father is American, is a little wild but fun. Sarah is beautiful and kind; she dies young in an accident, leaving behind her mourning husband Matthew. By 2004, Reagan, nursing a secret, unrequited passion for Matthew, has turned into a workaholic lawyer with a prickly personality and a penchant for one-night stands. Tamsin, married to her college sweetie Neil, is settled into jolly domesticity and merrily pregnant with their fourth child. Freddie's rich and handsome but shallow husband Adrian has sent her sensitive little boy Harry off to boarding school against her wishes. Driving home from Harry's school, Freddie gets two life-changing cell-phone calls: first from Adrian, to say he's leaving her for another woman, then from Grace, her father's housekeeper who raised Freddie after her mother's desertion, to say that Freddie's father has died. Tamsin and Reagan, who has quit her job, lend Freddie their moral support by accompanying her to the funeral in America. Matthew, who has long had a crush on Freddie, soon follows, and romance slowly blossoms, while Freddie uncovers family secrets. A wearying mix of stock characters in a lukewarm melodrama.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061983757
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/06/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
337,211
File size:
1 MB

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Read an Excerpt

The Friendship Test

A Novel
By Elizabeth Noble

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Elizabeth Noble
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060777745

Chapter One

September 2004, England

There ought to have been a law against driving while you were in tears. It was probably infinitely more dangerous than negotiating the roads after a third glass of wine. It occurred to Freddie that she almost never drove up the A3 without crying. The whole landscape, from the hideous modern Guildford cathedral perched above the town to the exit signs for RHS Wisley, its slip road congested with elderly gardeners, driving with totally excessive care and attention, was always blurred for her. She was always leaving Harry behind.

She blew convincingly into a tissue, bit hard on her bottom lip, and switched the radio on. Woman's Hour. Listening to Jenni Murray's voice was like eating Galaxy chocolate while you were wearing cashmere socks on a suede sofa. If Freddie won the lottery, she was going to offer Jenni Murray a king's ransom to live with her and read out all the bills and letters, shopping lists and to-dos -- think how much nicer life would be.

Jenni Murray was definitely a Tenko mother figure.

She tried to concentrate on the woman talking with passion about the banners of the suffragette movement, but she couldn't stop seeing Harry. He was much braver than her -- he had to be -- so she didn't cry in front of him. She knew her voice was brittle, unnatural, as she straightened his lapels, and smoothed down the rogue curl that sprang from the window's peak he had inherited from her. It had earned him the nickname Pugsley, which he had assured her, the first time she's heard it, shouted across the car park, was no worse than Jugs, or Billy One Ball, or Timmy Tampon -- better, probably. She knew that at home the same gesture would bring him into her shoulder for a hug, their widow's peaks touching. He was tall for his age, but she was taller. She didn't tell him to take his hands out of his pockets, although a master surely would. She knew they were fists.

It was okay for her -- she was minutes away from being in the car, where she could cry, and no one would see. Harry had to face a dormitory, a hall, four hundred boys. For the next seven weeks, he wouldn't be anywhere where no one would see. Then she would come to take him home for the oh-so-precious half-term holiday.

Adrian had no idea how much she hated this. By the time he came home this evening she would have cried all her tears. She'd gone to pieces in front of him the first time, and his parents had been there. She's resented their presence, their need to be fed and entertained, when Harry, who should have been there, wasn't. she'd cried over the dinner she'd cooked.

Clarissa, Adrian's mother, (who would alienate two-thirds of the woman in camp and, with a bit of luck, get shot for condescension and insubordination really early on) had looked at her with something between disdain and confusion. 'Of course it's hard,' she had said, sounding as though it wasn't, in the least, 'but it's absolutely for the best.' This brooked no disagreement.

'Absolutely,' Charles, Adrian's pompous father, had echoed. They both said 'absolutely' a lot. It made them feel even more right about everything. What the pair of them lacked in intelligence, they more than made up for in dogmatic vehemence. Absolutely insane-making.

'It was the making for me, Freddie, and it will be of him.' Adrian had been nodding too. They looked like a line of those velveteen dogs people put in the back of their cards.

Freddie had wanted to smack them one after the other. She wanted to scream, 'He doesn't need "making", you stupid bastards. I made him already. And he's perfect. And he's eight years old.' But even she recognized the futility of it. It was decided. It had been decided since the midwife had held him up and Adrian had spotted the swollen purple testicles he had never doubted that the baby would possess. Adrian had been to the same school as his father and grandfather before him, and Harold Thomas Adrian Noah, seven pounds eight ounces, was to be no exception.

She couldn't fight them all. Maybe she would have done, but Harry didn't want her to. He wanted to make his father proud, and his grandfather. 'it'll be okay,' he had told her. 'I'll be okay.' And he was. After three years, she and he were used to the agonizing parting. On eighteen hideous days they had said goodbye to each other in that hateful car park. It broke her heart that Adrian didn't know what it cost his son. She no longer worried that he didn't know what it cost her.

'Frederica's American.' That was what Clarissa always said, when she was introducing her at some ghastly drinks party or golf club social. Like Sybil Fawlty pointed out that Manuel was from Barcelona. Like 'Frederica's got raging impetigo.' Except that, as far as her mother-in-law was concerned, that complaint was treatable. There was no known cure for being American -- unless it was relentless indoctrination and regular use of the word 'absolutely'. Surely she would understand the necessity of public-school education for male children if she were 'one of us'. Clarissa had never understood why Adrian had married a foreigner when it was bound to present so many cultural problems, this inappropriate display being only one. The poor child was called Noah, for heaven's sake. Thank God for the three proper Christian names that preceded it -- most entry forms (Oxbridge, Coutts, In and Out Club) would never have enough room for him to include it. She's insisted on placing the birth announcement in the Telegraph herself, with the express purpose of leaving it out, and had been gracious enough to excuse Frederica's unpleasant outburst on reading it as the direct result of a long, tiring labour.

Continues...


Excerpted from The Friendship Test by Elizabeth Noble Copyright © 2006 by Elizabeth Noble. Excerpted by permission.
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