Well, it took me rather longer than I intended to get round to it, but I’ve finally read a book by those lovely ladies, the writing partnership of Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape. A Forsaken Friend is published tomorrow (21st March) by Lakewater Press for kindle (free through Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback – a sequel to their first, A Falling Friend, and the second in a planned trilogy, but I hadn’t read the first book and it was quite comfortably read as a standalone (my thanks to the publishers for my reading copy, and to Anne Cater at Random Things for inviting me to be part of the tour).
No-one said friendship was easy. Things can’t get much worse for Teri Meyer. If losing her job at the university and the regular allowance from her dad’s factory isn’t bad enough, now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband! Well, to hell with them all. A few weeks in the countryside at her brother’s smallholding should do the trick – and the gorgeous and god-like neighbour might help. But then there’s Declan, not to mention Duck’s Arse back in Yorkshire…
It’s not as if Lee Harper set out to fall in love with her best friend’s ex-husband. But, for once, her love life is looking up – except for all the elephants in the room, not to mention Mammy’s opinion on her dating a twice-divorced man. Perhaps things aren’t as rosy as she first thought. And now with one family crisis after another, Lee’s juggling more roles – and emotions – than she ever imagined. Maybe sharing her life with a man wasn’t such a grand idea.
The Friends trilogy continues in this heart-warming and hilarious hoot as two best friends navigate men, careers, family and rock bottom in this brilliant sequel to A Falling Friend.
Female friendship is always fascinating, but I really think if either of these women was part of my life I’d be changing my address and phone number. Teri is, frankly, a nightmare – totally without empathy, sympathy or finer feelings, seeming to think that the world revolves entirely around her and her needs, completely lacking in any moral compass and dropping her wispy knickers at the first hint of any interest. She’s so critical and dismissive of everything about her long-term friend Lee that it’s sometimes difficult to understand why they even stay in touch. But there is a strange fascination about her character and everything she says and does – and considerable laughter, often at her expense, although it’s unlikely she’d ever be aware of it, and would probably care even less.
I did feel I should like Lee rather more – but I did struggle a little when she moaned repeatedly about anything and everything, although I did find myself moving into her corner when the family issues she found herself juggling took a more serious turn. She’s picked up a relationship with Teri’s ex-husband (who happens to be a bit of a TV celebrity, even if mainly in the Ridings) but really doesn’t seem to like him much most of the time – mind you, I must admit that there were times when I wasn’t too keen on him either. There’s a large supporting cast, all exceptionally well drawn, and yes, I even liked some of them – Lee’s wonderful parents, Teri’s brother and his partner, the horrendous Declan (who is surely everything Teri deserves, with even less grasp of what is right and wrong, but very funny with it), the gentle and unexpectedly lovely Duck’s Arse and “gorgeous and god-like” Adam.
Heavens, I’m really making it sound as if I didn’t like this book very much – and that’s not the case at all. The story is told from the alternate viewpoints of Teri and Lee, often with their interpretations of the same events – as the reader, it’s left to you to decide which version is nearest to “the truth”, and as a story-telling device it works really well, and their voices are distinctive and wholly consistent. And the book really is very, very funny – “hilarious hoot” is a spot-on description as some of the situations do verge on slapstick, but overall the comedy is very well handled with an acute sense of the absurd and ridiculous. I do feel the need to use the word “aghast” – because that’s how I felt watching some of the situations and set pieces unfold, slightly awkward and uncomfortable at being party to it all, and to sharing the innermost thoughts of the two main characters, but totally unable to look away as each inevitable car-crash of a situation ensued. And the serious themes that emerged later in the book were sensitively handled, the humour still present as a clever counterpoint.
I really did enjoy this one – it’s perfectly described as “chick lit with edge”, a well told story with a good sprinkling of laughs mixed with some less attractive aspects of friendship and human nature, but with a real warmth in its telling.
About the authors
Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines, and in public relations. More recently they have worked in higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity University.
The pair, who have been friends for 25 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction(both published by Sage).
Sue, who is married with two grown-up daughters, loves reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her Yorkshire home.
Susan is married and lives in a village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra.