When We Were Friends

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 23 May 2015

Member Reviews

This book has been languishing on my TBR for nearly 4 years. I gave it a try once before but gave up on it, as both storyline and characterisation seemed so unconvincing. But the guilt always gets to me in the end. If NetGalley gives me a book, I feel duty bound to read and review it. So I steeled myself and tried again – and this time I must have been feeling in a mellower, less critical mood, as not only did I finish it but I quite enjoyed it – well, sort of. The characterisation and storyline are indeed unconvincing. A group of six university friends get together for a reunion every year. It never turns out well. They carry too much baggage and their personal histories are too intertwined for any meeting between them to be a success. So why bother? Well, I wasn’t too sure about that, but meet they do and this year turns out to be one of the worst times yet. I couldn’t buy into their connection, and found their yearly meetings too contrived. I also had trouble working out who was who, as I kept getting the women muddled up (they are all equally unlikeable) – not helped by the author choosing names that began with the same letters. There are far too many backstories, as well, and as they are all traumatic, they seem to merge into one long disaster. It’s all really quite silly and melodramatic, but I didn’t find it as bad this time as the first time I attempted it and at least my conscience is now at rest.
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I am not going to be reviewing this book, but thank you for the approval.
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You know the words of "for better or for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish"? They apply for friendships as well. 

There were six of them - Camilla, Natasha, Renée, Juliette, Sissy and Siobhan. 20 years ago they were friends, sticking together through thick and thin, and they still meet regularly. Yes, it is not what it used to be - but that is normal, right? You outgrow some relationships, right? Every one of them is somewhere else in life, right?
Yes, it sounds good, but it is not true. 
These six love each other and miss each other. They also hate each other (maybe with exception of nice, meek Sissy) - and there are definitely some dark secrets between them. So on the night of their annual party, when they are awfully drunk, the saying of the truth none of them really practice (except of Siobhan, whom the others considered being clumsy and childish) starts. And as it goes when they are unable to tell the truth for a long time - when it starts to go out, it just goes out as a dam breaking. 

This is what I call THE literature. The writing is top-notch and the story is even more - it it raw, real, living and breathing documentation of one of the most powerful relationships known to humanity.

I can't heap enough superlatives for this novel. It is real, it is perceptive, it is truthful and it understands the female friendships like anything I've read in years. The authoress is sharp in her observations and has such a big heart to understand her characters - even the most selfish ones. This novel doesn't hide the ugly truths, it is telling the story about how the secrets can destroy even the most stabile relationships. But finally, the truth is not the most important thing here - this might be "the facing the mirror", the honesty about themselves and the compassion towards the others. This is because the ones who are most human in this novel are Siobhan with her warm heart and Terry, the odd duck with the spin straighter than anyone else here. 

To be personal, I have friendships like this in my life. I know Camillas, Renées, Juliettes, Natashas, Sissys and Siobhans and I am them in some aspects. The world of female friendships is complicated and messy and emotional and full of drama - but also beautiful. 
Thank you, Ms Seskis, to let me think more about values and authenticity in your beautiful novel. 
And I am not saying it lightly.
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