Former country music star Diana Parks is now a highly successful businesswoman in partnership with her husband Jack. Her business takes her to Charleston, her former college town, where she bumps into her old college friend Eve Parks. Eve similarly has a flourishing career as a psychologist and radio presenter. After reminiscing at dinner over old times, it turns out that Eve is in touch with Lucy Bonneau Pendleton, another of the old gang. The women meet up at Lucy's mansion and over wine and "waltzing in Vienna" - their code words for smoking pot, the women revive their bond.
Yet although each appears to be successful both career wise and financially, the same cannot be said of their personal lives. Diana seems to have it all, being happily married to a devoted husband, but has dalliances with strangers to fill the void her creativity used to occupy. Widow Eve finds out that her marriage to Porter was not as secure as she once thought. Whilst initially it was a meeting of minds, it would seem that physically they were unsuited and Eve confesses to her friends that the marriage was devoid of sexual intimacy, which has caused her to become repressed and cynical of love. Her eventual awakening comes into being in the most unlikely of places. Similarly Lucy, the southern socialite, is the true homemaker; upholding tradition and devoted to her husband and their sons. Lucy finds herself separated for long periods from her high-powered entrepreneurial husband Theo. Buoyed by the reunion with her friends, she decides to surprise her husband with a visit but finds that the surprise is on her...
Wow! What a book! This was one of the most beautifully constructed novels I have ever read. It was a real celebration of women, their friendships and the empowerment that these bring. I was particularly surprised to find that the author is male because the book gives a real insight into the female psyche. I loved the way he used a timeframe of past and present to present how the characters change over the years; how optimistic and fresh they are in youth but how the demands of domesticity have caused them to become jaded in middle age. The reconnection of the three characters acts as a catalyst, with the women, through circumstances, being forced to reassess their lives. Yet, the author homes the message that sometimes when things fall apart, change, albeit painful, can transform lives for the better. The book also demonstrates the demands of women in the modern world, the pressures on women in regards to family and the ubiquitous balancing act which women have to face. It's a thought-provoking, empathetic and empowering read. (LP)