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Now and Then Friends (A Hartley-by-the-Sea…
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Now and Then Friends (A Hartley-by-the-Sea Novel) (edition 2016)

by Kate Hewitt (Author)

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Member:lanehillhouse
Title:Now and Then Friends (A Hartley-by-the-Sea Novel)
Authors:Kate Hewitt (Author)
Info:NAL (2016), 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Now and Then Friends (A Hartley-by-the-Sea Novel) by Kate Hewitt

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In the little Cumbrian town of Hartley-by-the-Sea, Claire West and Rachel Campbell were best friends as children, at least from Year Two through Year Five. But they came from very different backgrounds, and in Year Six things changed. Rachel's mother, the reliable working income in their household, fell and broke her back. Rachel became responsible for the care of her younger sisters. Meanwhile, Claire's wealthy family enrolled her in a tonier school than the village school they'd both attended till then.

Claire was too shy to walk out of the circle of rich girls who were suddenly her "friends," while Rachel was too proud to fight this apparent dropping of their friendship.

Fifteen years later, Rachel is still in Hartley-by-the-Sea, having given up her cherished opportunity to attend Durham University to support her family when their father leaves them, without explanation and apparently without a backward glance.

Her mother, Janice Campbell, is still trapped in her bed by her broken back. Middle sister Meghan has a three-year-old son and works a few nights a week at the local bar. Youngest sister Lily is finishing secondary school and has a conditional acceptance from Durham University, pending the results of her exams.

Rachel loves her family, but she's given up all her own dreams to take care of them, and is tired, prickly, and feeling unappreciated.

Claire West has just arrived back in Hartley-by-the-Sea, just released from a month in rehab after her fiance told her parents she had a drinking problem. She's spent the intervening years being coddled, protected, and managed by her family, especially her mother, and is determined to stop going along with this. She wants to choose her own path in life.

She just has no idea how to do that.

Both women face surprises, frustrations, and discoveries over the next few months. They both miss their old friendship, but can they forgive each other? Claire's family has already tried to make her come back to London, and she;s evaded that once, but has no idea how she can manage outright defiance. Rachel is making her cleaning business work and support the family, but everything's tight, especially with her mother's expensive medications. Meghan is increasingly unreachable, and Lily--Lily says she doesn't want to go to Durham University. And she wants to study art and design, not biology. How can she pass on the wonderful opportunity that Rachel herself had to give up?

We get each woman's viewpoint in alternating chapters, as they struggle with their difficulties, get challenged in their views of the lives, and make unexpected new friends. Including, in a slow and painful process, each other.

This was much more absorbing than I expected it to be, with both Claire and Rachel more engaging and compelling than my initial impressions of them. A great beach read.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
This book was an easy and quick story - perfect for summertime reading. Yet, it deals with some difficult issues: childhood abandonment, parental chronic illness, mistrust of or lack of confidence in others, and seeing the world through only your own eyes without consideration of the viewpoints of others. One could almost treat it as a self-help book with a sweet fictional narrative.
This story focuses on two, now grown, women who though once best friends are now virtual strangers after a childhood falling out which just happened and resulted in disappointment by both girls. One is of the poorer struggling class and the other of the wealthy set. It is set in the small Cumbrian town of Hartley-by-the-Sea. Rachel is struggling, running her permanently disabled mother's home-cleaning business while managing the Campbell home and the residing younger siblings and young nephew. She feels as though she's the only one of the family working so hard to keep it all together - just trying to keep the loose threads of their family ties from unraveling. The fact that Rachel's dad walked out on the family 11 years ago sure didn't help matters.
Meanwhile, childhood friend, Claire West, returns to Hartley-by-the-Sea after a failed engagement and lackluster career in Portugal which resulted in an alcohol rehab stint. Claire didn't really feel like an alcoholic. She just felt trapped and gave in to the abundantly flowing alcohol one evening. Her disgusted fiancé, Hugh, suggested to her parents that Claire had a drinking problem and she was quickly shuffled off to a rehab hospital. Claire is so used to everyone directing her life so what's the point in arguing about this turn of events? Following rehab, she chooses not to head to her parents' home in London but rather to her childhood home by the sea. She wants a fresh start and thinks that being on her own will give her that start. Good thought except that she continues to look to others for direction.
The story really picks up as the interaction between these two women develops. Other characters, equally well developed, are introduced and add sparkle and charm to the story. This was a charming feel good story and much enjoyed.
I am grateful to author Kate Hewitt, publisher Penguin Random House and Goodreads First Reads for having provided a free advance reading copy of this book. Their generosity, however, did not influence this review - the words of which are mine alone.

Synopsis (from book's back cover):
Childhood best friends Rachel Campbell and Claire West have not only grown up, but after fifteen years, they've also grown apart...

After her father left, Rachel had to dedicate her life to managing her household: her two younger sisters, her disabled mother, and her three-year-old nephew. When Rachel’s not struggling to look after all of them, she makes her living cleaning the houses of wealthy families—including the Wests, where a surprise now awaits her. . . .

A lifetime of drifting in other people's currents has finally left Claire high and dry. First it was her parents, then the popular crowd in school, and finally her fiancé. Now she’s returned to Hartley-by-the-Sea to recover. But running into Rachel brings back memories of past mistakes, and Claire wonders if she now has the courage to make them right.

Soon Claire’s brother, Andrew, asks Rachel to keep an eye on Claire, which is the last thing either woman wants. But as their lives threaten to fall apart, both Claire and Rachel begin to realize what they need most is a friend. The kind of friend they once were to each other, and perhaps can be again. . . . ( )
  KateBaxter | Aug 28, 2018 |
Now and Then Friends can be summed up in one word: BRILLIANT!! Book 2 in the Hartley-by-The-Sea series, it has become my favorite book thus far in 2016. It's the first book this year to make me cry intermittently, and one in which I was sincerely disappointed to see end. I have loved all of Kate Hewitt's books, but she really outdid herself with this one. All of the characters, primary and secondary, were so well developed and beautifully flawed with such admirable, redeeming qualities, that I was majorly interested in each of their stories.

In it we find two women, Rachel Campell and Claire West, best friends in primary school but who after four years drifted apart when Claire, the shy but financially privileged one, seemingly abandoned Rachel for the "in" crowd of girls that embraced her. It's about 16 years later and Rachel stumbles upon Claire in her parent's house, which Rachel cleans, presenting a very awkward reunion between the two. Claire has been living and working in Portugal with her now ex-fiancé, Hugh, but has returned to her childhood home in Hartley-by-The-Sea to reclaim her life and start over on her own terms, without everyone else's interference as to what's the best course for her to take. Rachel's dreams of procuring a University education dissolved after a mere two weeks when her mother had an accident while on a cleaning job rendering her bedridden, and relegating Rachel to the tasks of caring for her, the cleaning business and her two younger sisters since her father took off shortly after their mum became incapacitated. These are the predicaments of the two women when they come face to face after 16 years. What ensues after that is stubborn pride, resentments, and misunderstandings that initially hinder a proper reconciliation. However, as circumstances in life cause both women to converge and grow, there's the hope that with some compromise everyone involved can see a brighter future.

The vivid setting, superb depth of characters, deeply emotional dialogue, complex relationships and wry humor kept me planted to my seat in eager expectation of each pursuant chapter. There are so many astonishing moments to relive in my mind's eye that this book will have a lasting favorable impact on me for many days, weeks or even months to come. I await Book 3 in the series with eager anticipation. ( )
  Lauigl | Jul 29, 2016 |
This is Kate Hewitt's second book with a setting of Hartley-by-the-Sea, a small town in England. There are a few references to the characters in the first book but this can be read as a stand alone with no confusion.

Claire Westland and Rachel Campbell were best friends in school until Claire started to hang out with the popular crowd in junior high. Claire left town as soon as possible to live in Spain and Rachel stayed to take care of her mother and sisters and to take over the family's housecleaning business. When Claire returns to town, Rachel is filled with resentment. She is sure that Claire has led an exotic life while she was stuck in the same place and she sees no reason to rekindle their friendship. But Claire's life has a lot of issues and they both really need a friend but can they get past their resentment of each other and become friends again?

Kate Hewitt does a fantastic job of creating her two main characters - they are very real and both have a lot of problems and faults. Both were unlikable at times but once their whole story is revealed, they are both fantastic characters.

This is a fun summer read and I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Penguin House and the author for a copy of this book for a fair and honest review. ( )
  susan0316 | Jul 23, 2016 |
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Now and Then Friends: A Hartley-by-the-Sea Novel by Kate Hewitt, © 2016
A Hartley-By-The-Sea Novel Series, Book 2

She'd grown up here, walked down this street a thousand times during her five years at the primary school, but it felt unfamiliar to her now. The years at uni, and then in London and Portugal, had separated her from the life she'd once had in Hartley-by-the-Sea. She felt as if she were looking through the wrong end of a kaleidoscope when she recalled her years here.
--Claire, Now and Then Friends, 82

Coming "home" ~ does it ever happen? To truly find where you are is home? Claire West has returned to her childhood home as a respite against all she has known; overcrowding family, a lost relationship that likely never was anyway...
Can relinquished friends be returned? Can offenses be forgiven, however unintentional? Days crowded into days and life moved on once separated. A bused to private school put a hedge between those in the village. Returning to Four Gables she has forgotten, or perhaps never realized, the outcome from those left behind.

Rachel Campbell has her hands full with her cleaning contracts. Caring for her bedridden mother and watching out for her siblings and her hours are pretty occupied. Used to being responsible for her younger sister, Lily, Rachel wants her to succeed at Cumberland Academy, ready for her future schooling at Durham University, seeing to her studies. Cue in sister, Meghan, and her young son, Nathan, adding a mix to the household. Having to "parent" with her dad not in sight for years, Rachel's life has pretty much been sorted out for her. Until coming smack into her earlier days remembrance. Down the beach road and up the steep lane that led to Four Gables, her next cleaning job...Claire West. Memories submerged, long hidden and kept in control, begin to surface.

"If you leave here, no matter for how long, it's not the same as staying," she said as they descended from the coastal path to the beach on the far end of the village. The tide was out, and the beach was a lovely long stretch of wet sand that glimmered under the evening sunlight, the rocks smoothed to shining darkness. Claire breathed in the salty, sea-damp air, every part of her reveling in the purity of the moment.
--Abby, Ibid., 202

Stretching out, making friends, new to Claire, she finds it isn't so awkward as she suspected it would be. Even with Dan, her employer at the Village Shop/Post Office was edging in toward unexplained comfort; an extension of who she could be, emerging.

Now and Then Friends is conversational as daily activity is sorted out in new ventures of trust. The author has brought out lifelong habits changing, bringing newness to those around, placing them in a new response. Seeing lives from different perspectives ~ Claire's, her brother, Andrew; Rachel, her sisters, Meghan and Lily, and their view of their lives intermingle upon the page.

***Thank you to author Kate Hewitt for sending me a print copy of Now and Then Friends for review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.*** ( )
  lanehillhouse | Jul 22, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451475593, Paperback)

The USA Today bestselling author of Rainy Day Sisters returns to Hartley-by-the-Sea...
 
Childhood best friends Rachel Campbell and Claire West have not only grown up, but after fifteen years, they've also grown apart...
 
After her father left, Rachel had to dedicate her life to managing her household: her two younger sisters, her disabled mother, and her three-year-old nephew. When Rachel’s not struggling to look after all of them, she makes her living cleaning the houses of wealthy families—inclulding the Wests, where a surprise now awaits her. . . .
 
A lifetime of drifting in other people's currents has finally left Claire high and dry. First it was her parents, then the popular crowd in school, and finally her fiancé. Now she’s returned to Hartley-by-the-Sea to recover. But running into Rachel brings back memories of past mistakes, and Claire wonders if she now has the courage to make them right.
 
Soon Claire’s brother, Andrew, asks Rachel to keep an eye on Claire, which is the last thing either woman wants. But as their lives threaten to fall apart, both Claire and Rachel begin to realize what they need most is a friend. The kind of friend they once were to each other, and perhaps can be again. . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 07 Jul 2016 17:48:18 -0400)

"Childhood best friends Rachel Campbell and Claire West have not only grown up, but after fifteen years, they've also grown apart... After her father left, Rachel had to dedicate her life to managing her household: her two younger sisters, her disabled mother, and her three-year-old nephew. When Rachel's not struggling to look after all of them, she makes her living cleaning the houses of wealthy families--inclulding the Wests, where a surprise now awaits her. A lifetime of drifting in other people's currents has finally left Claire high and dry. First it was her parents, then the popular crowd in school, and finally her fiance. Now she's returned to Hartley-by-the-Sea to recover. But running into Rachel brings back memories of past mistakes, and Claire wonders if she now has the courage to make them right. Soon Claire's brother, Andrew, asks Rachel to keep an eye on Claire, which is the last thing either woman wants. But as their lives threaten to fall apart, both Claire and Rachel begin to realize what they need most is a friend. The kind of friend they once were to each other, and perhaps can be again"--… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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