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Summary

Sylvie, Jude, Wendy and Adele have a lifelong friendship of the best kind: loving, practical, frank and steadfast. But when Sylvie dies, the ground shifts dangerously for the remaining three. 

These women couldn't be more different: Jude, a once-famous restaurateur with a spotless life and a long-standing affair with a married man; Wendy, an acclaimed feminist intellectual; and Adele, a former star of the stage, now practically homeless. Struggling to recall exactly why they've remained close all these years, the grieving women gather for one last weekend at Sylvie's old beach house - not for a celebration of her life, but to clean the place out before it is sold. 

But without Sylvie to maintain the group's delicate equilibrium, frustrations build and painful memories press in. Fraying tempers, an elderly dog, unwelcome guests and too much wine collide in a storm that brings long-buried hurts to the surface - a storm that will either remind them of the bond they share or sweep away their friendship for good.

©2020 Charlotte Wood (P)2020 Orion Publishing Group

Critic reviews

"Charlotte Wood's writing crackles with vivid precision." (NPR)

"An unflinching eye and audacious imagination." (Guardian

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Female friendship at its best and worst

I wasn’t sure that I was going to enjoy this book, notably because it took me quite a long time to decide to stick with it. The blurb about the book made it sound an interesting proposition, but the actuality was very different.

Basically the plot was about three friends getting together over the Christmas period to clear out their dead friend’s house. The four women had been friends for a long time and, as with all long friendships, there was a lot of history between them, some good and some incredibly bad. Overall, as the book progressed, I began to wonder why these three women were friends at all. There seemed to be a toxicity and narcissism at the heart of their relationship that would shatter an awful lot of friendships very quickly. How had these women survived as friends for so long?

The final third of the story became much more interesting to me and the final reveal of secrets and lies was its saving grace.

For me, the narration of the story was a basic problem. I did not enjoy the narrator’s voice and it spoiled the story for me.

1 person found this helpful

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Very disappointing

The synopsis for this book seemed interesting, so it was chosen as our most recent book club choice, but the story wasn’t in the least bit interesting. I kept thinking that it was going to get better and build up to a great plot ending, but it didn’t. It focused heavily on the dog! I didn’t invest in any of the characters and the friendships between these women wasn’t at all how I hope my friendships over 30+ years will be!
I also did not take to the narrators delivery style or voice, it was slow, somewhat monotone and as if she was reading for children.

1 person found this helpful

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Unfulfilled

unfortunately I really didn't feel the novel fulfilled the promise of the premise. perhaps it was because it was narrated, but Finn was so up front & centre throughout I didn't feel the women's stories were fully realised. I am frustrated as I think it was well written but the focus wrong.

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Terrible narration

Although the book was well written and the characters interesting, the narration was terribly over-acted. I had to give up in the end. Too annoying.

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Terrible narration spoilt this magnificent literary event

A rewarding but uncomfortable book. Age and friendship are the driving force of this tale but it’s about so much more. Unsettling read in parts but brilliant - and one you won’t forget. But the plodding over enunciated narration destroy it - read the book instead