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on September 29, 2010
The Indigo Moon Café on Friday mornings is the meeting place for three women. Outspoken Tamara, introverted Jennifer and nurturing Bridget have been repressing their own needs to take care of their families. But as their children are getting older and more independent, their lives are changing, too.

Tamara's husband is cold, and now that her son is in college she's noticing her young neighbor could warm her nicely. Jennifer loves her husband, but she never got over her first love who is in her life again. Bridget, whose husband makes her feel like wallpaper that carpools and cleans, enjoys her new job - especially the hunky dentist who shares her passion for cooking and gourmet food.

Men are involved in all their conflicts, but the book isn't about the men. It's about finding themselves again, it's about being first in their lives. And at the heart of the book, it's about friendship.

I loved Brant's first book, According to Jane, but this was even better. It has more of a grown-up feel, with women friends at turning points of their lives. The characters - women, men and families - felt like people I know, and it was fascinating to watch their stories unfold. I never knew what was going to happen.

Brant's writing has a Jane Austen feel that lets us see beneath the characters' surfaces. I'm a big fan of Austen's, and now I'm a huge fan of Brant's.
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VINE VOICEon November 15, 2010
Author Marilyn Brant worked as an elementary school teacher, a library staff member, a freelance magazine writer and a national book reviewer before becoming a full-time novelist. According to Jane is her first novel, which won the prestigious 2007 RWA Golden Heart Award. Her next novel, The Grand European, is set for release in October 2011. Marilyn resides in Illinois with her husband and son.

This novel explores three women who contemplate wanting more outside of their marriage. Bridget, in a marriage with children, begins to feel an attraction for her boss, and though loves her husband, feels he just doesn't notice her anymore, nor allows her to explore her interests, like cooking. Tamara, in a marriage of convenience which has long grown bitter, begins feeling a sizzling attraction for her younger neighbor after her son goes away to college. Jennifer, though in a committed marriage with a man she loves, begins to feel regrets about her first love when he recently resumes contact for a college reunion. Exploring marriage, friendship, and being true to ones self is always shaky ground.

I was riveted to this author's first book, and this one didn't disappoint. Emotionally packed, it's hard to put down for all the sordid details and what ifs. This author writes with a very narrative voice, which usually makes for a detached read, but she really pulls it off and captures your attention. What intrigued me most was this book was as much about friendship as it was about what goes on behind the closed doors of marriage. Does anyone really know someone? Do we even know ourselves? Will we have the courage to go after what we want when presented with the options? This isn't a book about infidelity, and the author was very careful not to go that route or cross that line. A highly recommended women's fiction read.
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on September 29, 2010
I loved Friday Mornings at Nine. I think every woman will identify with the three heroines - Bridget, Tamara and Jennifer. These friends aren't stock characters or cardboard cutouts. Their lives felt totally real, each fresh and unique thanks to Brant's eye for detail. In her hands, the premise -- three friends flirting with the idea of having an affair -- rises well above cliche. This story isn't about infidelity. It's about the choices we make, about the truths we share with our friends, and the secrets we keep -- sometimes even from ourselves. Neither preachy nor predictable, Friday's had me turning the pages, both laughing and reaching for tissues, until that final satisfied sigh. Afterward, like me, you'll probably be left with an irresistible craving for toasted chocolate chip muffins. A small price to pay, though, for the reward of such a thoroughly enjoyable read!
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on October 8, 2012
A great novel about relationships, friendships, communication, and the truth about the choices we make. Did you marry the right person? Are you living the life you are meant to live? Are you living a lie? Marilyn Brant writes with beauty and honesty, as she raises these kinds of questions in Friday Mornings at Nine. We follow three very different women who face these challenging questions as they view their marriages and lives. Can they have the happily-ever-after ending? The answer may surprise you.
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VINE VOICEon November 10, 2010
Marilyn Brant masterfully writes on the intricacy of female friendship in a carefully crafted, entertaining and yet philosophical look at love, marriage and family. In FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE, we're dropped into an inner circle of three women who have spent years forging their bonds of trust -- but still remain skeptical of opening their hearts too much. Who hasn't felt that way? That our inner lives are something to be guarded, something to be protected, even with close friends?

That's what struck me most about this novel: how well Brant understands the complexity of women. Being one herself, of course, our author gives us three ladies who, for better or worse, we get. And FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE has a little something for all lovers of women's fiction, including my favorite plot: the return of an old love. Of the three storylines, I found Jennifer's to be the most compelling. This is a woman who, after being unceremoniously dumped by a man she loved more than a decade ago, still wonders what happened. Still harbors hurt feelings and misconceptions, all because she never got that mystical thing called "closure." Though my situation isn't just like hers, I've felt similarly -- and really came to anticipate Jennifer's chapters.

Brant's dialogue is what really propels us forward here, too. Never one to "tell" rather than "show," she lets most of her characters do the talking -- literally. From the aloof husbands to the nagging children to the random Halloween partygoers, everyone in the novel was brought to life through consistently well-written conversations. I felt like I could hear the cadence of their speech without any modifiers, and that's a mark of a great book for me.

Fans of women's fiction shouldn't miss this novel full of wonderful insights into our friendship and family, people and topics always at the forefront of our minds. I was so pleased with the way this one turned out and highly recommend it and Brant's debut novel, ACCORDING TO JANE.
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on September 29, 2010
I adored Marilyn Brant's debut book, According to Jane, and couldn't wait to get my hands on this, her second novel. She didn't disappoint. I immediately fell in step with the three women she writes about and couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Friday Mornings at Nine is so well written, so engrossing, that I felt as though I was there in the story. The women are characters you root for and sympathize with, and each one carries a trait so relatable, that you'll wish you could meet them for coffee on Friday mornings. This is a book about friendship and honesty (with yourself and others) and real-life love, and it's layers of emotion stayed with me long after I'd finished the book. Ms. Brant captures the complexity of a woman's life so beautifully, it's a novel I highly recommend!
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on February 23, 2011
Just as the title and book description suggest, FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE is like settling in with nearest and dearest friends for a coffee-catch-up--a heartwarming and by times hard to accept for the heartfelt honesty catch-up.

I was sold on Marilyn Brant's writing after I read her first release, ACCORDING TO JANE. Brant has an incredible talent for inserting the sort of details that make you feel as though her characters are the people you went to school with, but, as another reviewer mentioned, FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE is Brant all grown up.

This book is an entertaining, enlightening and by times mildly disturbing look at marriage, but more than that it is an exploration of female friendships. The author honestly and shamelessly explores the importance women have in each others lives, and the importance of being honest enough with yourself to be honest with your friends. I want to be at that cafe Friday morning at nine. I want to call these women my friends.

THAT is what a good story should make you feel!
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on September 6, 2011
After reading Brant's debut novel, According to Jane, I knew Friday Mornings at Nine would be a great read. It certainly delivered because Brant's style of writing made you feel right there at the café with the three women while discussing their experiences and challenges. Also, throughout the novel, I was looking forward to what would happen next for each of the women. Definitely recommend...
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on November 9, 2010
This wonderful followup to Marilyn Brant's debut novel, According to Jane, does not dissapoint! Tamara, Bridget and Jennifer meet every Friday morning at the Indigo Moon Cafe for coffee and gossip on their surburban lives. One day, Jennifer tells her pals that she's been in contact with her college sweetheart and this sets the plot in action. Soon, all three women are wondering if the lives they are living are the ones they're meant to have and begin to ask themselves the eternal question: is the grass really greener on the other side?

I have to say, of all the characters, Tamara was the one I was most rooting for. Her only son has just left for college and she's stuck in a loveless marriage with a man who seems to ignore her. I so identified with her empty nest syndrome!

This book is excellently written and all three stories end with an entirely satisfying conclusion. This is women's fiction at it's best!
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TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: NON-Austenesque, Women's Fiction

TIME FRAME: Present Day - the beginning of September to New Year's Eve

MAIN CHARACTERS: Three forty something wives and mothers - Tamara, Jennifer, and Bridget

WHY I WANTED TO READ THIS NOVEL:
I'll be honest, unlike Marilyn Brant's According to Jane and A Summer in Europe, this book wasn't instantly added to my wishlist. Three women in unhappy marriages contemplating affairs doesn't really sound like something my romantic heart would enjoy. But having read and ADORED both of Marilyn's other books (as well as her lighter contemporary romances) I figured I should still give it a try.

WHAT I LOVED:
- Three Heroines: I loved how this story was divided up by the three main characters. Some chapters followed just one of our three heroines at a time and others displayed their exchanges and interactions when they assembled together. I liked having multiple main story lines, learning more about three diverse heroines, and seeing the story from three distinct point-of-views. Triple the heroines, triple the drama, triple the romance!

- Accessible and Real Marriage Issues: The return of an ex, the emergence of indifference and inattention, feeling unfulfilled and undervalued - all these things are common causes for unhappiness or dissatisfaction in marriage. It was interesting to observe how each couple dealt with these issues and how they altered each woman's feelings and futures.

- Complex and Philosophical: Lots of introspection, self-examination, and reflecting going on. Marilyn Brant does a fantastic job of conveying the varying dynamics and dilemmas in modern marriages. This novel isn't just a simple romance - it is thought-provoking, sensitive, and multilayered!

- Marilyn Brant Staples: There are some things you should expect to find in all of Marilyn Brant's novels: decadent and vivid descriptions of food and a music playlist that perfectly matches the story's tone. I love this about Marilyn's novels! The only downside...the reader doesn't get to eat the delicious delicacies first hand! (I so want to eat Bridget's creations!)

WHAT I WASN'T TOO FOND OF:
- More Resolution, Please: I sort of wish that there was a little bit more closure for this novel. I really enjoyed my time with Tamara, Bridget, and Jennifer and I would have loved to seen a little more of how their futures panned out.

CONCLUSION:
If you are skeptical about this novel because of the premise or because it sounds like it is about extramarital affairs - I'd recommend you still give it a chance. It is NOT about adultery and divorce. This novel is about self-identity and relationships. As with any Marilyn Brant novel this story is well-crafted, absorbing, and skillfully written!

Austenesque Reviews
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