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With A Friend Like You (2014)

Beth and Megan have been friends for years but when Beth's daughter, Ella, turns to Megan for advice, Beth sees Megan's failure to tell her about Ella as an undermining of her and an affront to their friendship. Whilst Beth tries to tackle Ella about her news, she succeeds only in pushing her daughter further away and the wedge between Beth and Megan grows. With a strain on domestic life and the relationship between the two families following their fallout, the two women attempt to make an effort, but the damage has been done and the tension serves only to bring out some disastrous home truths that threaten not only friendship but family. Billed as a wickedly funny look at female friendship, I was expecting this to be a light, amusing portrayal of two friends falling out. However, this is a much more sombre and earnest novel, without any laughs. The fallout between the two women is not some superficial squabble but a very real and serious matter of loyalty and expectation. It is perfectly pitched but don't expect a riotous comedy. The feud between the friends and the wider context of their disagreement offers a great subject matter for the story, but for me there was no question over where my sympathies lay or whose side I took. I never really understood Beth's response to Megan and I couldn't find fault in Megan's actions. And whilst Megan came across as a fair, warm woman, Beth was uncompromising, self-absorbed and standoffish. Aside from one moment of madness from Megan towards the end of the book which felt out of character, Blake draws these two very different characters extremely well, but it was difficult to tolerate Beth. That Megan is the one who does all the chasing and building of bridges too, despite being little to blame, and Beth the one who holds all of the cards further divides sympathy. I wasn't sure what to make of the final paragraphs and what the future held for these two divided families, but I enjoyed the fact that Blake maintains the frostiness and enmity between the pair throughout. (JC)

What Women Want (2011)

Bea, Kate and Ellen are women who know what they want, only they realise they can't always get it. Bea wants a man, and to keep her job in publishing. Kate wants her marriage to work and Ellen wants her family to accept her new lover. Only as the three women grapple with what they need, or at least what they think they need, their friendship is put to the test. The novel follows the three women as they learn to adjust to divorce, teenagers and empty nest syndrome. With a few mysteries and secrets to unravel, it's a nice, easy read. (AB)

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House of Dreams

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Women of a Dangerous Age