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Not my favorite Joanna Trollope novel, because too many of the main characters are too unsympathetic I admire Trollope s refusal to people her books with the sort of pictures of perfection that made Jane Austen feel so sick when she came across them in the course of her own reading but if everyone s the moral equivalent of a cheap candy bar not always bad, but sure to turn into an icky mess under the slightest heat or pressure , I start to question why I m bothering to read.I did appreciate learning that there s a place in the world where people say they re as cross as a bag of cats That s a keeper.I was a little baffled by Trollope s description of strawberries served the American waywith lemon juice, sugar, and sour cream That may be an American way I m guessing this is a Southern dish but it can t be the American way if I ve lived in America all my life and never even heard of it, let alone tried it Specifically, I live in a part of America whose 12 month growing season gives us higher strawberry yields per acre than any other growing area, not that I want to brag or anything Oh, of course I want to brag It s fun Go ahead and try it I don t mind Not that the whole book s about strawberries, or that my whole review should be This being a Joanna Trollope novel, there s lots of British food and lots of very civilized people trying awfully hard to find happiness if that would be quite all right with everyone There s also a bittersweet ending Trollope s endings are always at least half happy, but rarely than half And there s wistful wisdom sprinkled throughout, such as Perhaps it was better not to think of that evening, because the trouble about things going wrong was that they then soured the memory of things that had gone right before.Boy, do they. Not one of the best Joanna Trollope that I have read, nevertheless an engaging story of human relationships and their fallacies.This book deals with two families, who are friends with each other, and how the other family is affected, when one husband leaves his wife for no apparent reason As Trollope goes on to say, the consequences were somewhat like one oak being uprooted, falling upon the one standing behind it, causing a mass uprooting to occur I didnt like the parents much they seemed too shallow and purposeless The kids were good Sophie, the single child of the couple who initially separate, and 3 boys of the other family, in varying stages of teens.I loved the premises, descriptions and thought processes much better than the actual story line.4 stars for description, 2.5 stars for the story average 3 stars.Overall, a readable book. I bought this book ages ago because the plot seemed intriguing Two friends Gina and Laurence and their respective families and how they cope with the breaking down of marriage and a love that blossoms from it Well that s kind of how it was described on the jacket sleeve.Only when I started it it became confusing and muddled The book was told from just about everyone s point of view at some point in time and only one set of characters was intriguing and that was Gina s 80 something mom, Vi and her friend lover Dan Those are the only two characters in the whole novel that you could like.Gina came off as shrill and selfish and whiny, the typical poor woman who s husband has left her.Laurence was wishy washy and most of his kids are just blah, except for Gus, who is sweet.Hillary, Laurence s wife is the typical frustrated wife, working to hard, and getting little satisfaction.Sophy was a bratYou don t really get a lot of story on Gina s soon to be ex husband Fergus, except that he changed his name before they were married and is now living with another many, Tony, but he s not gay or in love with Tony Tony is in love with him ARGH The hardest part of the novel to take is the love affair that comes between Gina and Laurence It simply seems that we turn a page to find a new chapter and these two characters shacked up together.WTF I mean it was destiny as far as the story telling goes, but there was really nothing that led up to it.But it gets betterno really it doesn t it gets worse Then both characters have to come to grips with Hillary, Laurence s wife and how their relationship will change the lives of both sets of children The only problem is neither character really does that.Gina panics when Sophy runs to London to her fatherand that s about the only maternal thing we see in her.It took me forever to read this and when I was done I was truly glad to be away from the book I had to check to see what other people had thought of it and I was really happy to see that I wasn t the only person that felt so meh about the book, though there were many that claimed they loved it I sadly can t count myself as one of them.This is not a romance, its an interwoven tale of characters bound by the friendship of Gina and Laurence, though you never quite understand that friendship or many of the other relationships in this book except for Vi and Dan For me, this book was a total waste of my time. As with all of the contemporary novels by Joanna Trollope that I have read, I found this book very sensitively written It depicts a quiet community and a relatively commonplace drama, but it does so in a way that is both evocative and memorable I especially appreciated the way the author highlights the big questions of life in the midst of small situations.Here, a happily married man finds that he loves two women, and he is forced to confront the unruly nature of love itself But love comes in many forms It is the love between friends which is under the spotlight in The Best of Friends , and it is shown to be just as complicated and destabilising as romantic love This makes for an interesting display of various platonic relationships one between pensioners, one between forty something adults, and one between teenagers.I found the characters very appealing The young characters are beautifully portrayed, and the older ones are just as likeable In fact, one feels that one has been drawn into the village and spent time with them, because there is a distinct sense of loss when one comes to the end, almost like having to say goodbye.A satisfying read and good for the soul. This is classic Joanna Trollope, although not her very best but I m still working through some of them I reserved two from the library and they both came in months later, so much so I d forgotten what I reserved Imagine my delight when I picked them up.I read this on the weekend after a very difficult week at work and it was just what I needed family and friend relationships done so very well I loved all but one of the characters, but even so, I could understand her which is the point of good writing.I m only sorry I read this in paperback as I would have many highlighted passages to share with you.Recommended reading on an overcast, cold weekend with a hot mug of tea Just read Andrea s review to see what I would have said, but Andrea beat me to it My first Joanna Trollope so I was disappointed because so many people told me how good she is I hope her other books are better. .FREE EPUB ☸ The Best of Friends ♞ Whittingbourne Is One Of Those Charming English Towns Where Families Live Happily Ever After Gina And Fergus, Hillary And Laurence Have Grown Up, Married, And Raised Their Children In The Warmth Of Amiable Friendship But One Day It All Unravels As Fergus Calmly Leaves Gina To Share His Life With A Young Man In London, And Laurence Nearly Chucks It All To Move To France With Gina In The Heat Of Passion Their Children Are Devastated And Beset With Emerging Passions Of Their Own Teenage Sophy, Angry With Her Father, Fergus, For Disrupting Her Life, Is Nonetheless Drawn To Him As A Refuge From Her Mother S Affair But Fergus Is Not Prepared For Sophy To Share His New Life Sophy Is Also Scared She Might Be Pregnant After A Furtive Encounter With Young George Here is another book I read this month that I ended up liking at the end than I did when I started reading it It covers the period of one summer into the fall, when two families lives changed drastically, throwing their individual and mutual universes into total chaos In the beginning, I felt it was going to be a little too soap opera ish for my taste, but things improved.The story deals with two families, who are friends primarily because the husband Laurence in one and the wife Gina in another have been best friends since they were in high school The character driving the story is Gina and Fergus daughter, Sophy, who is devastated and angry when her father suddenly announces that he and her mother are separating They always seemed to be at one another s throats, but Sophy cannot believe that they are breaking up.As the story develops, the relationships of all the characters to each other change quite a bit, sometimes unexpectedly, and usually with very sad consequences As I said earlier, it started out like a soap opera plot, and though it still contained some of that type of story, the narrative was effective enough to make you wonder what would happen next The characters are pretty well drawn, and fairly complex, and the story creates as many questions as are resolved by the end Not great, not awful, and slightly thought provoking. I read Joanna Trollope when I need a dose of fine family drama The families don t live Hallmark lives and have their conflicts and hurts, and the members often have difficulty connecting with the love they feel towards each other But in the end, there is always some sort of acceptable resolution This is not one of her best I found it dragged in part , but it provided what I was looking for with the customary satisfaction. It was well written, but it was a sad story of love, marriage and the unravelling of two families as marriages disintegrate.