7 August 2013

Book Review: The Birthday Girls by Pauline Lawless

"They'd met on their first day at school four little girls who were all very different from each other but who somehow became close friends. Their friendship has now lasted thirty-five years. As their birthdays all fall in the same week they long ago made a pact to spend each big decade birthday together. So far they'd managed it. Now as their thirty-ninth birthday looms, Angel, a famous Hollywood actress, announces that this will be her last birthday. Terrified of aging, she absolutely refuses to turn 40. So Lexi, the mother hen of the group and an artist, invites them to Florida for a week-long celebration of this, their last birthday together. Brenda, mother to five grown-up children, flies in from Dublin, eagerly looking forward to her first foreign holiday ever. Mel, however, has to be prised away from New York where she is a successful partner in a law firm - Mel is a workaholic with no other friends or love in her life. The four come together for the celebration but soon things start to unravel and the week ends disastrously. Lexi is distraught. Can their friendship endure? Only time will tell."

Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy The Birthday Girls as a paperback or an eBook now.

I haven't read any of Irish author Pauline Lawless' books before, but I'm not sure why. I was sent one to review, but sadly couldn't find the time for it, so when I received a review copy of her new book The Birthday Girls, complete with lovely bright cover, I thought it sounded really good and that I'd give it a go. I'm really pleased I did because I really enjoyed the story, and thought Lawless was a really good writer, and the story carried itself well too. It certainly makes me want to dig out some of her older novels and give them a go too, because I'm quite sure I will enjoy those too.

Four friends have been close since primary school, when they all made a special bond over the fact they have their birthdays within the space of a week. Thirty-five years later, they are getting closer to their 40th birthdays, despite the fact one of the friends, Angel, now an actress living in America is determined she's never going to be 40! Lexi, the mother of the group, now living in Florida decides to invite all the friends to her house for their last big birthday together, really hoping her best friend in the group Brenda attends. Brenda's a mother to 5 older children, still living in Ireland and is desperate to make the trip stateside to see her friends once more. Can she convince her husband that she can go on the trip? Finally there's workaholic Mel, who can only find time in her busy schedule to come for a few days. Will the women be able to enjoy their last birthday celebrations together, or is it the beginning of the end of their friendship for good?

The book begins introducing us to the four main characters quite quickly, but I liked that because I felt like I got to know them all rather than having to wait to be introduced to them one by one. This way, you can get an immediate feel for the characters, and straight away, I have to say I didn't like Angel. She came across as very arrogant with an attitude of superiority over her friends. This continued throughout the book, and I had very little sympathy for her throughout the book. I think as her tale went on, you're supposed for perhaps wane in your dislike for her but it didn't quite work that way for me! Lexi, on the other hand, I loved. A very warm, motherly character who wanted the best for everyone, you can't help but love her as her friends do and I loved her story as well. Her tragic past certainly lends to you feeling sorry for her as well. Mel I felt I didn't really get to know that well, simply because I felt she had a lot less time dedicated to her than the others, until it got to the last quarter of the book.

Brenda was my favourite character by a long way, and is the one I think most people will be able to relate to in terms of circumstance. She got married and had children very young, and feels somewhat left behind her friends. However, she loves being a mum and has stayed with her husband despite being unhappy in her marriage for a while. She's hoping the trip away will be a fresh start for her marriage, but I was hoping it'd be a fresh start for her life! Brenda is very likeable, and you can't help but want a happy ending for her. The book travels about from Ireland, to Florida and New York so you're certainly not left stagnant when you're reading this. I really enjoyed reading about Lexi's gorgeous home in Florida, it seemed heavenly, and there's no wonder Brenda didn't want to go home to her usual life!

The book is so much more than these women all having a joint birthday holiday though. Lawless isn't afraid to tackle some quite hard-hitting issues in the book, showing us that each of the women is affected by their lives in different ways, and that life hasn't really been easy for any of them. They all have their own stories to be told, and it's cleverly woven into this one big story that you don't want to stop reading. With troubled marriages, various illnesses, sadness but equally a lot fun, laughs and sunshine, The Birthday Girls is a fantastic read that I can definitely recommend this summer. A cast of 4 women that you can like (I'm sure some people out will like Angel anyway!), glorious settings and a fantastic easy to read writing style all make this book a must read from me. I loved it.

No comments:

Post a Comment