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Review: Just Good Friends

Jul 2nd, 2011 | By HAL | Category: Books Tags: , ,

"Just Good Friends?" the debut novel by Jane ReynoldsBy: Gaelick  (@Gaelick on Twitter)


Self-publishing is a tough business. You have to have the belief in yourself, the money to do it and the chutzpah to do some publicity and get it out there. And that’s even before you’ve written anything in the first place. I couldn’t do it and I take my hat off to anyone who does. Jane Reynolds, I hand you my hat!

I have to admit I was a little scared when reading Just Good Friends? as I really, really wanted to like it, because of the effort I knew had gone into it. All I can say is Phew! Jane wrote Just Good Friends? because she was sick off looking for a good read and because she loves a good story. She has managed to produce both in this great first novel.

It tells the story of a group of women living in London. They are all loaded and living the perfect lives with the perfect husbands and the perfect children who are really being raised by the perfect nannies. Perfect! Except none of them are happy. It takes the fit to hit the shan for them to consider who they want to be.

The woman who holds it all together is Eleanor, a wonderful character who is only missing a twirly mustache and manic laugh to be the perfect baddie. She is, basically, a bitch. She is the top of the heap in her social group of yummy mummies and loves to rub everyone’s nose in it.

Eleanor’s friend, Ruth, is living her life in third gear, doing all the things she’s supposed to and she thinks she’s happy. Her husband not really rocking her boat is normal, right? Her closeness to her best friend, Helen, isn’t unusual, right? Drunkenly kissing Helen and self-imploding? Not so everyday.

Eleanor and Ruth are two great characters to balance the book: one is cerebral, always plotting and planning, never letting her heart get in the way; the other rules with her gut and can’t help but be open and honest. Both of them find their lives equally shattered, but then equally resurrected.

They live a life of secret longings for their families and, in Ruth’s case, a secret desire for ger best friend.

The one gripe I had with the book is that it feels over-written, with some descriptions too detailed and drew you out of the narrative, but to be honest that’s a pet peeve of mine so maybe I’m being picky. Plus this is something that is bound to happen when you self-publish and don’t have a professional editor in your corner.

Just Good Friends? is the perfect light read on your daily commute or at the beach; it’s funny (belly-chucklingly funny at times), engaging and has a warmth at its centre that would seduce anyone.