“Thoughtful, seamless.” Washington Post Book World
“Trollope tenderly explores the clash between extramarital passion and the bonds of family love…delicious wryness and large doses of empathy.” Good Housekeeping
“It is both a delectably sweet and intensely satisfying undertaking to be swept right along with these carefully crafted characters.” Booklist
“Can a man and woman be friendsbest friends? That age-old (but very contemporary) question is the point on which Joanna Trollope’s new novel turns…Trollope’s prose is skillful, and it’s impossible not to be swept along by her story.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The Barnes & Noble Review
Joanna Trollope is a No. 1 bestselling author in England. Here in the States, she has legions of faithful fans who have cherished each new book that has come across the Atlantic. In her latest, The Best of Friends, Trollope crafts a tale about two childhood friends who are now grown up with children, but whose marriages are on the brink of betrayal.
Gina and Laurence had been the best of friends ever since they were teens but never in love. Gina married Fergus Bedford, an antique dealer who bought the sophisticated and elegant High Place for them to live in. Laurence married Hilary, a down-to-earth woman who helped him transform his shambling inheritance, The Bee House, into both a home and a small hotel.
When Fergus realizes that living with Gina and their daughter, Sophy, is no longer what he wants, it's to The Bee House that Gina flees, beginning a cycle of misery and heartache. It ricochets through both families from Sophy, who longs for things to be as they were; to Gus, Laurence and Hilary's son, who adores Sophy; to Gina's 80-year-old mother, Vi, who has found true love for the first time in her life. In her loss, Gina turns to her dearest friend, Laurence, and finds something completely unexpected the type of love that will send both marriages to the brink of betrayal.
The Best of Friends addresses what Joanna Trollope writes about best: "suspense of the heart" (USA Today). Trollope believes, "It is the mark of good fiction that the writer's eye is a kindly one...that there is a sense that we're allinthis together." That sympathetic eye is seen throughout this must-have book, which fans of Trollope are sure to enjoy while introducing this secret pleasure to unfamiliar readers.
Whittingbourne is one of those charming English towns where families live happily ever after. Gina and Fergus, Hillary and Laurance have grown up, married, and raised their children in the warmth of amiable friendship. But one day it all unravels as Fergus calmly leaves Gina to share his life with a young man in London, and Laurance nearly chucks it all to move to France with Gina in the heat of passion. Their children are devastated and beset with emerging passions of their own. Teenage Sophy, angry with her father, Fergus, for disrupting her life, is nonetheless drawn to him as a refuge from her mother's affair. But Fergus is not prepared for Sophy to share his new life. Sophy is also scared she might be pregnant after a furtive encounter with young George. What keeps the predictable plot from dissolving into just another British suburban soap is Trollope's (A Spanish Lover, LJ 12/96) remarkable talent for character development. Entertaining, engaging, and literate, this is highly recommended.
...[C]aptures the poignant rituals of family attachment and detachment with delicious wryness and large doses of empathy.
Remarkable... her characters are at once vexing and endearing, which is to say fully human.
The Washington Post
From the British writer who specializes in domestic tales with an edge (A Spanish Lover, 1997, etc.), a wonderfully calibrated story of an old high-school friendship that in middle age turns suddenly treacherous and destructive.
Trollope is one of those rare writers who creates fully human characters living in recognizable worlds doing regular jobs and suffering all the bitter disappointments that flesh is heir to. Gina, whose mother Vi, a character with her own fierce passions, was abandoned by the American soldier who got her pregnant, became friends with Laurence in high school in the small English town where they both lived. And even after she marries Fergus, and after Laurence marries Hilary, they remain splendidly close. Gina's teenaged daughter Sophy and Laurence's three sons are also good friends. And so when Fergus moves out of the beautiful home he and Gina have created, announcing that their marriage is over, he sets in motion events that almost destroy not only his own family but Laurence's as well. A distraught Gina turns to Laurence for consolation, and Laurence, who has been feeling overwhelmed by work and family, he runs a hotel and restaurantardently responds. Divorces are planned. An anxious Vi, whose dear friend Dan dies in the midst of it all, watches from the side. Sophy runs off to Fergus, who, though not gay, is living with a man who loves him; and Sophy quickly realizes that life with Dad is no solution either. Laurence's boys are equally upset, but, when Hilary decides to fight for Laurence, good sense and solid affections prevail, albeit not without compromise and unexpected change.
A wise and sympathetic take on the strains and strengthsthat friendship provokes, by a writer who seldom strikes a wrong note. A moving, convincing, satisfying novel.