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City of Friends by Joanna Trollope

City of Friends

by Joanna Trollope

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704171,029 (3.03)5



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This book follows the lives of four women in their thirties, who have been best friends since University days. They're all fairly high-powered workers, living in London, although they each have different stresses. The book opens as one of them loses her job...

I felt most of the main characters were believable, pleasant people with flaws. There's a rather overt feminist agenda, although the author creates very likeable men too. Not a great deal happens; it's a character development novel rather than having any significant plot, but it made an interesting read. Confusing if I was tired and only read a chapter or two at a time, but surprisingly compelling when I read longer sections at one sitting.

Not my favourite of this author's books, but pleasant enough. ( )
  SueinCyprus | May 15, 2018 |
Thanks to Goodreads and the publisher for a free copy! While I do appreciate Joanna Trollope's writing style, this book didn't do it for me. The characters seemed overly shallow and I couldn't get invested in any of their problems. Still, I'll be trying another one of her books in the future. ( )
  bucketofrhymes | Dec 13, 2017 |
I read and enjoyed Trollope's Daughters-in-Law, and looking for a diverting piece of lighter fare after some fairly heavy reading, I thought I'd try this one. I gave it 50 pages and saw no reason to go on. The four (or is it five?) friends, whose story this is, all studied economics at university in London. That should've told me enough; I can imagine few things I would rather not study. All of these women are ambitious, high-powered, and, one would imagine, exceedingly impeccably groomed--that should have told me even more. One of the women, Stacy, has just been fired after asking her boss if she might work flex-time from her home so that she can care for her aging (cognitively impaired) mother. This request apparently precipitated her being let go. Another of the friends has raised her son single-handedly, but has just discovered that the boy's father has been attending sports events in which the boy, a high-school student, plays. Another of the friends was brought up by a loose hippie-ish bunch, who believe she'll ultimately see the light and return to her wilder, more natural origins. Finally, a fourth friend (yes, there must be four) is lesbian. In any case, I didn't stick around to face the trials and tribulations of this too-privileged lot. If I didn't care about a single one of them by page 50 and the writing was nothing more than workmanlike to that point, what was the motivation for continuing? I doubt I'll visit Trollope's world again. I think my enjoyment of one previous book was probably a one-off. ( )
  fountainoverflows | Apr 26, 2017 |
Confession time: I’ve never read a Joanna Trollope book before City of Friends. Why? I don’t know really. I could make a lot of excuses but the truth is I’ve never really gotten around to it – it’s too hard to go to the library, the local bookshop closed down…then it’s all too late. In a way, City of Friends explores that notion – letting something slide until it’s too difficult, then nearly impossible. But the stakes are much higher here as it’s about secrets within friendships and family.

The story opens dramatically with Stacey losing her job, very suspiciously after she’s asked to work from home some days to look after her mum who has dementia. After her boss says no, he then casually mentions that she’s superfluous to the team and he was going to make her redundant anyway. This really got me simmering, the casual sexism and the fact that it’s pretty much against equal opportunity laws. The explosive start develops into a theme – can women have it all (family and work life)? What are the barriers that women face when they try to do that? Is it so wrong for a woman to say she loves her work before her family? These ideas are what hooked me into City of Friends. It’s a bold investigation into the life of a career woman.

All four women studied economics and now have high flying jobs in the corporate and academic sectors. Except for Stacey, who is a lost end with caring for her mum. It’s a different structure that lacks routine, socialisation and her mum barely notices if she’s there or not. Melissa started her own company and now tells boards of directors what to do. She excels that that but when her son says he wants to spend time with his father, she’s at a loss what to do. Gaby has the family and the high powered job that she openly admits she loves more than her family. Now if she could tell Melissa that she hired her ex-lover’s wife and that she can’t give Stacey a job…but it’s too late. Beth went into academia, becoming an in demand guru of organisation psychology but her relationship is on the rocks. Can she handle a vindictive breakup and change her future?

What was pleasantly refreshing about City of Friends is that it didn’t shy away from the characters’ flaws and mistakes. They were tackled openly once they were brought to the fore. The flaws in each character didn’t make me like them less as a reader, rather I appreciated the honesty and I could see myself being friends with them. They are not superhero workers, lovers and mothers – they all juggle everything and sometimes it fails, occasionally in cringe worthy fashion. Yet the story is not preachy or bogged down in drama – it’s a pleasant read that moves quickly. The only thing I would have liked to have seen more of is the economics as I’m interested in that area, but I really I’m in a tiny minority here (and to be honest, I don’t think it would have fit with the lighter tone of the book). I’ll certainly be seeking out more of Joanna Trollope’s novels as I thought the strong female characters and open exploration of their faults was refreshing.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan for the copy of this book. My review is honest.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
  birdsam0610 | Feb 4, 2017 |
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The day Stacey Grant loses her job feels like the last day of her life. Or at least, the only life she'd ever known. For who was she if not a City high-flyer, Senior Partner at one of the top private equity firms in London? As Stacey starts to reconcile her old life with the new - one without professional achievements or meetings, but instead, long days at home with her dog and ailing mother, waiting for her successful husband to come home - she at least has The Girls to fall back on. Beth, Melissa and Gaby. The girls, now women, had been best friends from the early days of university right through their working lives, and for all the happiness and heartbreaks in between. But these career women all have personal problems of their own, and when Stacey's redundancy forces a betrayal to emerge that was supposed to remain secret, their long cherished friendships will be pushed to their limits.… (more)

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