Every once in awhile, I need to step away from my usual murder and mayhem and read something different.
Robyn Carr's latest book, Four Friends, seemed like a good choice. (And I really liked the cover - I have some old chairs that may just receive a bright coat of chalk paint this spring.)
Carr quickly introduces us to four women living in the same fairly affluent neighbourhood. They're all in their forties, with successful careers and enviable lives. Or so you would think, looking from the outside in.
But there are cracks in each....Gerri discovers that her husband has had an affair. And so has school principal Andy's husband. Sonja, who doggedly pursues every alternative health therapy going, overwhelms her husband, and he leaves. Their newest neighbour, widow BJ, is quite private with her life, but is slowly drawn into the lives of the other three.
Carr candidly explores women's friendships as well as other relationships - maternal, familial and spousal. She does this through a variety of crises and solutions that touch on health concerns, drugs, drinking, sexuality, spousal abuse, mental health, infidelity and more. The lives of the four women's families are brought into this exploration with the children and partners begin given a voice as well.
At times I felt a bit overwhelmed with the sheer volume of crises that befall these four. But again, we never know what goes on behind closed doors do we?
Take charge Gerri was the lead character and I have to admit that I found her to be the most annoying. She's definitely someone I would avoid in real life. One of her lines in the first few pages had me laughing, rather than empathizing, (although it seemed to be written in all seriousness). ...."When Gerri had been brought to her knees by a killer hemorrhoidectomy, Sonja was there, drawing the sitz bath, making broth, administering pain meds and, of course, she was armed with the perfect, natural, gentle laxative. Gerri had learned you just don't give the right laxative enough credit until you find yourself in that position." The character I was actually drawn to the most was gentle Bob the carpenter and his dog Beau. His calm, measured way of dealing with things was quite appealing. His relationship with feisty Andy was my favourite 'situation' of Four Friends.
I applaud Carr for tackling so many current, topical and relevant issues. But for this reader, there were just a few too many. Some of the characters and situations seemed 'textbook' rather than engaging. Still, Four Friends was an easy read and a good diversion for an evening for me. And a reminder to appreciate your friends.
Established Carr fans will not be disappointed. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Four Friends.
You can keep up with Robyn Carr on Facebook and on Twitter.