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Poorly written, predictable
on August 9, 2008
This book starts out as a British version of "The Big Chill" but goes downhill pretty fast.
We are introduced to all the main characters in the opening scene. They were school friends who went their separates ways and reunited when another friend dies in a terrorist attack.
So we have Holly, trapped in an unhappy marriage to Marcus, a vain, snobbish, selfish lawyer. The author devotes many pages throughout the book to demonstrating how vain, snobbish and selfish Marcus is. Oh, did I forget to tell you? He's vain, snobbish and selfish.
Next is Saffron, a B-list Hollywood actress with alcoholic tendencies having an affairs with P -- "the sexist man in the world." Except that P can't marry Saffron because he's married to someone else and it would be bad for his career. (Didn't stop Tom Cruise).
There's Olivia who likes dogs more than people, has a one-night stand with a hunky American and gets pregnant.
Paul is a journalist married to super-Swedish businesswoman Anna who would like to have children but can't get pregnant. Oh the possibilities for plot development that little contradiction offers.
This collection of cliches (sorry, I mean characters) falls in and out of bed with each other and others, goes to weddings and funerals, gets pregnant, gets drunk, gets depressed, gets high, gets low ... gets this, that and the other ...until the book ends with everyone living happily ever after and buying lots and lots of fabulous clothes and never getting wrinkles.
I honestly don't like giving books poor reviews and I have nothing against books about unhappy marriages and adultery (Anna Karenina and Madam Bovary examined this territory rather effectively, after all). I would rather give five stars to all the books I read because I know how hard it is to write a book, how much effort and heartache and emotional investment goes into it.
But really, don't people write books with real characters and real plots any more? The writing here is so wooden and pedestrian it's hard to describe. Characters are introduced solely so that they can say things about other characters. Then they disappear and we never see them again. At the end of the book, Holly suddenly falls in love with someone else who we never meet at all. Sarah, the widow of the friend who dies, is inconsolable -- depressed, shattered, bereft. She just disappears from the book. Does she live, die, recover, marry a space alien? We're not told.
I guess writers are only as good as readers demand them to be. If this kind of stuff sells, there's no incentive for the author to do better or her editors to demand better. We, the reading public, get the books we deserve.
But surely we don't deserve this.