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Thick and Thin (2013)

How would you cope if a lifelong friendship fell apart? Marianne Dillon and Clare McMahon are about to find out. The pair meet in college and although they are wildly different - Marianne is outgoing and spirited, while Clare is the shy, retiring type - they become firm friends. Over the course of twenty-five years, they share the good times and the bad ones - and unfortunately, there are plenty of bad ones. But after all the years of consistently being there for each other, a life-altering crisis hits their friendship and a crack that was there all along tears them apart. Can they get their relationship back - is that ever possible after such a chasm has occurred? Thick and Thin is Harte's second book. I wouldn't normally use the word 'delightful' to describe a book, but this book to me was exactly that. The author has a lovely turn of phrase and a writing style that's gripping in a very subtle manner. The characters in Thick and Thin were compelling and believable, and I found myself really caring about what happened to them. My only complaint was that although the book was consistently strong throughout up to the end with no dips in the pace, I thought it limped to a conclusion rather than going out with the bang it deserved. Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed it and will absolutely be seeking out this author's first book! (SBB)

The Better Half (2011)

Anita, married to brash property developer Frank, has been living the high life thanks to the Celtic Tiger. Endless shopping and pampering, restaurant catch-ups and exotic vacations are all part of the extravagant lifestyles of Anita and her friends. Their children have grown up feeling entitled; while the women have had an army of helpers to keep their mansions running. However, now with the Irish economy in freefall, Anita realises it's the rash actions of all their husbands that has helped bring the country to its knees. And each woman is about to find out what happens when their lavish - but rather empty - lives fall apart. With Frank letting her down on another front, Anita - who came from a working-class background - begins to wonder why she never did anything beyond marriage and motherhood. Harte, a former corporate lawyer who is married to a well-known Dublin businessman, offers up an authentic glimpse into Ireland's boom and bust. On the downside, the story jumps around perhaps a bit too much and readers may get lost sometimes with the lingo.

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