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The Friends We Keep

by Jane Green

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16215140,973 (3.74)5
As seen on The Today Show! The Friends We Keep is the heartwarming and unforgettable New York Times bestselling novel from Jane Green, author of The Sunshine Sisters and The Beach House. Evvie, Maggie, and Topher have known one another since college. Their friendship was something they swore would last forever. Now years have passed, the friends have drifted apart, and they never found the lives they wanted--the lives they dreamed of when they were young and everything seemed possible.  Evvie starved herself to become a supermodel but derailed her career by sleeping with a married man.  Maggie married Ben, the boy she fell in love with in college, never imagining the heartbreak his drinking would cause.  Topher became a successful actor, but the shame of a childhood secret shut him off from real intimacy.  By their thirtieth reunion, these old friends have lost touch with one another and with the people they dreamed of becoming. Together again, they have a second chance at happiness...until a dark secret is revealed that changes everything.  The Friends We Keep is about how despite disappointments we've had or mistakes we've made, it's never too late to find a place to call home.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Bestselling author Jane Green returns with an ambitious saga about three friends who meet in college, the far-reaching directions their lives take them, and how they come back together years later.

Evvie, Maggie, and Topher were devoted to each other during college and convinced that they would always be friends. But as often happens, once they graduated, and embarked upon careers and relationships, they drifted apart. Green details what happens to each of the three friends.

Evvie learned in college to use medications to stay thin and attractive, and parlayed that knowledge into a highly successful career as a model. However, beauty fades and so did Evvie’s career as she allowed emotional eating to take over. She had a brief, but momentous affair with a married man and bore his son. A son that she has steadfastly kept away from Maggie and Topher.

Maggie had a crush on Ben when they were in college. In fact, they called him “Evil Ben” because he was a grumpy bartender in the same local pub where Evvie worked. Even back in college, Ben’s drinking was problematic. A chance meeting several years after graduation brought Maggie and Ben back together and they married, intending to start a family. Through Maggie, Green illustrates that life doesn’t always work out according to plan, especially when one is either too naive or chooses not to appreciate the significance of obstacles that present themselves.

In college, Topher thought he was just not a sexual being. He didn’t like to be touched by anyone, male or female. After college he pursued and enjoyed a career as an actor, scoring a steady gig on a popular daytime drama. And he discovered his sexual orientation and found love within a committed, if not passionate, relationship, as well as from supportive friends. After the death of his beloved partner, Topher enjoys a platonic relationship with an older gentleman and moves in with him. An inadvertent but irresponsible lapse in judgment derails his career and tarnishes his reputation, so he is eventually forced to confront the horror he endured as a child. That trauma explains fully why true emotional intimacy has always evaded him.

The three friends are reunited at their thirtieth college reunion, and they realize how deeply they all still care about each other. They fall right back into their old patterns — laughing, talking, drinking. Each of them has reached a crossroads in his/her life, and they realize that they not only like each other. They also need each other. Maggie has the perfect solution! And all is again well, despite the fact that Evvie has been keeping an explosive secret that, if revealed, will destroy the relationship that she has re-established with Maggie and Topher.

In true Green fashion, that secret has far-reaching ramifications for her three characters. She capably explores its impact upon each of them as they grapple with information that changes the basic facts they have assumed about each other. Green focuses on themes including taking responsibility for one’s own actions and choices; the consequences of an inability to appreciate the gravity of evidence of trouble; forgiveness; and what it means to be a family. Through her three characters, she also examines how destructive disappointment can be and the importance of being able to move past it in order to find a new, if not predicted or foreseen, normal.

The fact that the ending of The Friends We Keep is thoroughly predictable does not detract from the enjoyment of sharing the journeys of Green’s three characters. Each of them is highly flawed, but so thoroughly human that they are empathetic and likable in spite of their shortcomings. Each of them makes terrible choices and is required to confront the fall-out from their own behavior. Green never lets the book’s pace drag as she deftly navigates between the perspectives of each character over the course of more than three decades.

The Friends We Keep is engrossing and her characters are endearing. It’s precisely the kind of book to throw in one’s beach bag and enjoy while lounging by a pool or on the shore.

Thanks to NetGalley for an Advance Reader's Copy of the book. ( )
  JHSColloquium | Apr 9, 2022 |
I cannot believe that this is my first book by Jane Green. I’m sure it won’t be my last but I don’t know where she’s been hiding.
This was a sweet and almost sad story told in 3 different times-the past, the in-between, and the present. As three young people begin university, they find friendship with each other that they know will last a lifetime. Although they’ve grown apart during the in between years, they come back together in the end, each character with their own reasons.
Everybody always says how they will never drift apart and that they will always be friends. It seems this rarely happens in real life. But wouldn’t it be nice to know that it really could happen if your circumstances allowed? And that’s what these three likable characters find out. Although they have all made mistakes and they’ve all done things they wish they hadn’t done, in the end their friendship matters above all else.
Nothing too dramatic or suspenseful here just a real life, heartfelt story. ( )
  purple_pisces22 | Mar 14, 2021 |
Great. Started slowly. Ended quickly. I liked the characters. ( )
  nwieme | Mar 19, 2020 |
The Friends We Keep by Jane Green is a compelling novel of friendship, secrets, betrayal and ultimately, forgiveness.

In 1986, Evvie Williams, Maggie Hallwell and Topher Winthrop form a life-long enduring friendship. Evvie is a half-Jamaican former child television star, Maggie is the beloved only daughter of a financially comfortable family and Topher is the only child of a wealthy family. Despite their disparate backgrounds, they are immediately inseparable during their university years. Evvie is the only one of the group who must work to make ends meet and she becomes a bartender at a local pub. Much to everyone's surprise, Maggie falls for Evvie's co-worker, whom the trio dubs "Evil Ben" since he does not talk or smile much. After graduation, the three friends go their separate ways but before Evvie leaves, she makes an unexpected choice that becomes the first of several secrets she keeps from Maggie and Topher.

Maggie is a caretaker who shows how much she loves people through cooking. Her unrequited crush on Ben Curran is her only unhappy memory during her University years. After graduation, Maggie moves to London and becomes a career woman but she secretly harbors hope she will marry a man who takes care of her. Much to her shock, Maggie's path crosses with Ben and they eventually marry. Unfortunately, wedded bliss is elusive as they struggle to have children and Ben's drinking spirals out of control. Maggie does everything in her power to help Ben and keep his alcoholism hidden but will she remain in their tumultuous marriage forever?

During University, Evvie discovers how to control her binge eating and after graduation, she is offered a modeling contract in New York. Her career is wildly successful but her longtime pattern of choosing the wrong man continues to haunt her. Following her return to New York after attending Maggie and Ben's wedding, Evvie eventually makes a fateful decision that forever changes her life and her friendship with Maggie and Topher. This secret haunts her and she does everything in her power to keep it under wraps, but will it remain hidden from the person it will hurt the most?

Topher also moves to New York following graduation where he pursues an acting career. A successful soap opera star, he is mostly content with his career path. Topher is wary of relationships but he eventually discovers happiness with two rather unconventional relationships. It is not until nearly mid-life that Topher finally reveals a devastating childhood secret but will he take the necessary steps to completely heal from this traumatic event?

Spanning thirty years, The Friends We Keep is a poignant yet heartwarming novel of friendship. Each of the characters are vividly developed and despite their flaws, they are immensely appealing. The storyline is engrossing and follows Topher, Evvie and Maggie from their University friendship, their lives after graduation and their reconnection after their 30th university reunion. Jane Green's portrayal of their personal struggles and their enduring friendship is heartfelt and quite touching. An absolutely beautiful story that readers are sure to enjoy.
( )
  kbranfield | Feb 3, 2020 |
Really excellent book that follows the life of three college students in England. Years later they end up living together, life has not gone quite as planned. I love her imperfect characters. One of her best books yet! ( )
  lhaines56 | Dec 14, 2019 |
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As seen on The Today Show! The Friends We Keep is the heartwarming and unforgettable New York Times bestselling novel from Jane Green, author of The Sunshine Sisters and The Beach House. Evvie, Maggie, and Topher have known one another since college. Their friendship was something they swore would last forever. Now years have passed, the friends have drifted apart, and they never found the lives they wanted--the lives they dreamed of when they were young and everything seemed possible.  Evvie starved herself to become a supermodel but derailed her career by sleeping with a married man.  Maggie married Ben, the boy she fell in love with in college, never imagining the heartbreak his drinking would cause.  Topher became a successful actor, but the shame of a childhood secret shut him off from real intimacy.  By their thirtieth reunion, these old friends have lost touch with one another and with the people they dreamed of becoming. Together again, they have a second chance at happiness...until a dark secret is revealed that changes everything.  The Friends We Keep is about how despite disappointments we've had or mistakes we've made, it's never too late to find a place to call home.

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