Publication year: 2007
This new book introduces us to three friends: Jenny, Mariel, and Rachel.
The three friends have three daughters of similar age, and in 1988 when the little girls are babies, they promise that should something happen to any of them, they would look after the girls.
The story moves to 1994 when Rachel’s little girl, Emma, turns six. Rachel is our narrator, and we learn more about her and her family life. She and her husband Oliver are not really the picture of bliss. Recently he had an affair with a young woman, Charlotte, an intern in his company. Rachel forgave him, but we learn that shortly afterwards she also had an affair with Simon, her boss. She claims that the affair started as a way to get back to her husband and feel better, and she managed to keep the affair a secret. Now she finished things off with Simon even though we think he didn’t want to. The problem is that Rachel has to see him on the days she works, which is three times a week. We can see that the roots for this marriage are rotten as respect, honesty, and trust are gone. The way Rachel talks about her husband doesn’t show much love, and I don’t know if the only thing they have in common is Emma. They wanted to have more children, but now it’s not possible. Rachel had a couple of miscarriages, some false alarms, and she ultimately learnt that she was incapable to conceive any longer. I have the hunch that something might happen to Emma.
Apart from Rachel, there is Mariel and Jen. The two women are as close as sisters to Rachel. They talk and visit every day, and they even have a schedule to pick up the girls and give them their tea during the week. Mariel is married to Toby, and they have two children: Cat and baby Jake. We know that Rachel was first friends with Toby, and through him she met Mariel.
Jen and her partner Bob have Daisy. They have financial difficulties, and it is clear that things between she and Bob are not blissful. Bob is a very special kind of character. He is quite imperative in his opinions, and I have the impression that he dominates Jen.
The beginning of the book is interesting, but the tone is quite sad. Apart from the girls, none of the characters show much happiness in their family lives. I think the women feel happier in their friendship than in their marriages. The only one who seems to have a better, happier family life is Mariel. I am intrigued where the novel will go, but I’m afraid it will lead to more bleak scenarios.