28 May 2009

Book Review: Friends, Lovers and Indiscretions by Fiona Neill

Sam and Laura Diamond are struggling to make ends meet. She's a doctor working all hours and he's a script-writer, although he's hiding something about his employment status from his wife.

Their friends are struggling too. Corporate laywer Janey is expecting her first child with hedge fund manager Steve, and he knows his job isn't safe. Jonathan and Hannah also have their own problems despite owning a chain of successful restaurants and moving to the country.

Jonathan decides to treat them all to a holiday to celebrate his birthday but secrets are revealed, shocking everyone and changing friendships forever.

This book seems a very modern one, with the author commenting about the effects of the "credit crunch" on her characters, and also the effect it has had on the world of banking. I haven't read Fiona Neill's first book yet, The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy, but it has had good reviews and is one I will be looking out for. This book is Neill's second release through Century and has so far been released in hardback copy. The bright red cover stands out on your bookshelf nicely, and I was looking forward to reading this as the synopsis sounded like a book I would very much enjoy.

The themes that run through the book are relationships, children (and the issue of wanting more), secrets and finances. It is definitely a grown-up version of chick-lit, not the light fluffy stuff I usually read and therefore it was immediately different for me. The book is written in the third person so we are able to follow the different couples and characters around seamlessly and Neill's writing style allows this to be easily done, and is eas to follow as well. When you have a book with multiple characters contributing to a story, it needs to be simple in its narration and this book delivers on that.

The characters all seem very realistic, and this allowed me to really get absorbed into the book and care about what was happening in the story. Sam and Laura are the main characters of the story and the ones the reader follows the most. Sam is struggling with his work, and doesn't want a third baby, no matter how much Laura wants one. She is the breadwinner of the family and sometimes resents Sam for the time he gets with their 2 children. The dynamic between the pair was very believable and I did feel sorry for both of them at points because I couldn't help but feel they weren't talking enough and that they were a very happy couple under the exterior! Janey and Steve weren't seen as much, but Janey wasn't someone I could really relate to therefore I wasn't too sad I didn't see more of her! Jonathan and Hannah were my least favourites, neither of them were nice people and I make sure I don't have people like them in my life! They were necessary for the story but I just couldn't bring myself to like them at all.

One sour point in the book for me was that the tone was quite depressing throughout. There didn't seem to be much happiness in the book whatsoever, and all the characters were consequently quite miserable because of it. I really wanted something to happen to make them all smile and be happy, but it didn't materialise. Happiness is definitely one thing this book could have done with but it's still a great read without that, if a tad depressing at times. The pace of the book was good. It didn't span a huge time scale but that allowed the author to concentrate on character development and the direction of the story. There were several unanswered questions throughout that are slowly revealed, and I loved that part of it and I was guessing the whole way what had happened in the earlier life of the characters!

If you enjoy a well-written story then Friends, Lovers and Indiscretions is definitely a book for you. Neill has carefully created a bunch of likeable and believable characters who are centred around their old friendships but secrets that bind them all together as well. The locations are described well, particularly the holiday destination which was so well written I felt like I was there! I found it hard to put this book down because I wanted to find out more, and the constantly changing relationships in the book kept me hooked. I really enjoyed reading this and was sad to finish it, but at least I can look out for Neill's first book now! Highly recommended.

Thank you to the publishers, Century,  for sending me a copy to review for chicklitreviews.wordpress.com

Rating: 4/5

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