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Friday Nights: A Novel Hardcover – April 15, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When a British retiree invites two young single mothers from the neighborhood to her flat, a Friday night tradition begins. As their klatch widens, Trollope's memorable characters do more than just represent varying female predicaments: they develop as rich individuals who come to triumph over their pasts. Paula has a wary relationship with the married man who fathered their son, Toby: she must move on, yet stay in touch for Toby's sake. Struggling Lindsay was widowed before she gave birth, while her sister, Jules, is a careless aspiring nightclub DJ with a wild streak. Independent, put-together Blaise contrasts starkly with her often bedraggled business partner, Karen, who barely manages her role as mother and breadwinner. And then there is Eleanor, the catalyst for the gatherings, a no-nonsense older woman who, though full of wisdom and spunk, keeps her thoughts to herself unless asked. When a new man enters Paula's life, Trollope (Second Honeymoon) masterfully shows how work and romance can tip the scales in female friendships. The result is a careful and compelling examination of one man's insidious effect on a group of female friends, as memorable as it is readable. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

On Friday nights, a disparate group of friends—single mothers Lindsay and Paula, Lindsay’s hapless sister Jules, successful entrepreneur Blaise, and Blaise’s business partner Karen, struggling to juggle work with a difficult marriage—are likely to find themselves together. The group evolved from a tentative invitation issued by Eleanor, a lonely retiree, to two strangers, and it is generally in Eleanor’s house that the group meets and finds a sense of stability and community. Disruption comes in the form of Paula’s new boyfriend, the enigmatic Jackson, who insinuates himself into their lives in one way or another, igniting jealousy and resentment. Karen’s husband, Lucas, calls Jackson an “unsettling influence.” But he is also a catalyst, whose presence gives everyone a much-needed jolt. Another piece of intelligent domestic fiction from the reliable Trollope, who makes us care about all of these women and the choices they make. --Mary Ellen Quinn
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First Edition edition (April 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596914076
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596914070
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,900,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joanna Trollope has been writing fiction for more than 30 years. Some of her best known works include The Rector's Wife (her first #1 bestseller), A Village Affair, Other People's Children, and Marrying the Mistress. She was awarded the OBE in the 1996 Queen's Birthday Honors List for services to literature. She lives in England.

Customer Reviews

The characters were very unappealing.
Frances Schwendeman
Each character's individual story is told and woven together to form connections in this group.
Indian Prairie Public Library
I read about half, then skimmed the rest to see if it got any more interesting (it didn't).
MrsMorland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By MrsMorland on July 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have suspected for years that Joanna Trollope subcontracts out an occasional book, like this one (Brother and Sister also comes to mind). Cardboard characters moving through trite and predictable situations. I read about half, then skimmed the rest to see if it got any more interesting (it didn't). She has written such marvelous books (The Choir, The Rector's wife, Other People's Children, Marrying the Mistress, the recent The Other Family, etc). I can't understand how she can be simultaneously so tone-deaf.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on April 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It is Eleanor, a Londonite retired from the National Health Service, marriage less and childless, who notices a couple of single moms in her neighborhood, decides to offer assistance, and thereby starts a Friday night social ritual. Three others soon join the group. Eleanor is their rock: she is imperturbable, largely unsentimental, and helps to supply coherence to these young women's lives.

But after several years, changes disrupt the group's harmony. Paula, one of the young unmarried mothers, is literally given an upscale loft by her guilt-ridden former lover. Then to top if off, she holds a Friday night gathering in her new place and brings in her new boyfriend - apparently a real catch. The enigmatic new man proves to be a very upsetting factor as he manages to insinuate himself into their lives by making various offers, both business wise and more romantically tinged. Suspicions and envy abound, the easy friendliness of the group disappears, and allies are sought to justify actions.

Each character is unique, largely understandable, and portrayed more or less sympathetically. Although the various children seem awfully bratty. The mere formation of the group, its long standing, and the ubiquity of the new man are perhaps a stretch. Furthermore, the recovery of each person is also a bit too tidy - no train wrecks. Nonetheless, the author has a keen eye for the difficulties and changes of life, and yet retains a certain optimism regarding our abilities to adjust and move on. The book is a quick read, however the flurry of interactions once the problems start almost become too much to follow.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Tabor Millin on September 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
First, an admission. I have a strong preference for English women writers. Rosamunde Pilcher (The Shell Seekers), Angela Huth (Land Girls), Penelope Fitzgerald (The Gate of Angels), and others come to mind along with Joanna Trollope. Trollope (yes, she's a descendant of Anthony Trollope) has never failed me. In all her books, Trollope focuses on family relationships--what brings people together and what challenges their ties. Her characters are clearly drawn, and she is a master of presenting children as catalysts and real characters.

Friday Nights begins as Eleanor, retired and in her early seventies, impulsively invites two single mothers to her home for a Friday night get together. These two woman, Paula and Lindsay, have seen one another in the neighborhood. Soon the circle expands to include Lindsay's younger sister Jules, an aspiring disc jockey, and Eleanor's neighbor Blaise and her business partner Karen. The women, all with different life goals, skills, and interests, find a warm center in Eleanor's living room until change challenges their relationships.

In this novel, Trollope explores women's relationships, not only with one another, but with men, children, and careers. I became a seventh woman in this circle of six. >From this vantage point, I found myself examining each character for the aspects I identified with. This was one of those books I was sorry to finish. not only because it spoke to me, but because I think that I have now read all fourteen of Trollope's novels. Two of my other favorites are The Rector's Wife and Other People's Children.

Peggy Tabor Millin, Women, Writing, and Soul-Making: Creativity and the Sacred Feminine
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Indian Prairie Public Library on July 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Trollope once again examines the complexities of contemporary lives by telling the story of a group of women that meet on Friday nights and what happens when a man upsets their balance. Each character's individual story is told and woven together to form connections in this group.

Eleanor, the retiree, sees two harried single mothers, Paula and Lindsay, pass by her window everyday. She decides to invite them for a Friday night and the tradition begins. Soon Blaise, Eleanor's new neighbor; Karen, Blaise's coworker; and Jules, Lindsay's younger sister, are included in the gathering. The friends find support and encouragement when they meet. But when Paula introduces her new beau, upsetting things begin to happen.

This is Trollope at her best: examining the way women deal with the issues in their lives and writing about normal people neither good nor evil, making mistakes but remaining optimistic about their future despite uncertainty over decisions.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By T. Volz on July 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am a Joanna Trollope fan, and I liked this book. The characters represented a good range of modern working women, whether satisfied with rather pedestrian jobs, or more ambitious, or having difficulties juggling family and work. And the characters covered the spectrum of working life, from Jules just starting on a career, to the retired Eleanor. I thought the novel developed that aspect of the characters' lives very effectively and realistically; they all seemed like people I have known.

Trollope was at her best with the character Eleanor, whose concise and objective comments cut through to the heart of issues, and whose occasional musings provided the more thought-provoking aspects of the novel, particularly about the place work has in our lives.

My one complaint concerns Jackson. He is described in the book as "opaque" and "enigmatic", and boy, was he ever. A mysterious character can add intrigue to a book, but sooner or later the reader needs a little glimpse into his motives, or a hint of the background which makes him behave as he does. Maybe I missed something, but to me, Jackson simply remained inexplicable, to the point that, by the end of the book, I found it irritating.

But don't let that stop you from getting the book. It is an enjoyable read. With the exception of the baffling Jackson, Ms. Trollope reveals new insights into her characters with almost every page.
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