My Best Friend's Life by Shari Low

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My Best Friend's Life by Shari Low

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A brilliantly funny book about a grass-is-greener scenario with lots of boys, booze and even a brothel thrown in for good measure.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 438 Date: March 2008
Publisher: Avon
ISBN: 978-1847560124

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I raved about Shari Low's last book, The Motherhood Walk of Fame, but if it's possible, I loved this new one even more.

Foxy Roxy works in a brothel. Less-foxy Ginny works in a library. Now the brothel is one of those legalised ones, and is pretty swanky, and Roxy's usual working position is at the front desk rather than flat on her back with her legs in the air, but still, the girls are working in two pretty different jobs, it has to be said. They are friends though, thanks to being born in the same hospital on the same day to mothers who already knew each other. They've grown up together, gone to school together, and now ended up living not too far from each other, Roxy in hip and happening London and Ginny in the boring 'burbs with both their mums, back where they grew up.

When the latest in a string of bloke crises sends Roxy over the edge and back home for some good old-fashioned TLC, Ginny comes up with an interesting suggestion – why doesn't Roxy stay there in the quite little town of Farnham Hills for a bit, and Ginny will go back to London and live her life for her. They can even take on each others jobs for a month since both are pretty straightforward, and the bosses won't mind – the head librarian is, after all, Ginny's mum, and Sam from the brothel will just be glad to have reception cover in Roxy's absence, lest one of those annoying journalists, or even worse, one of the visiting men's wives, find their way inside his sanctuary. I think that's an important thing to note – in lots of these wife swap stories the switchovers happen quite easily, perhaps too easily, and you do wonder about the feasibility of it all, especially when spouses and children are involved. This one makes a lot more sense, and is quite frankly much more realistic since it's two free and single 20-somethings swapping lives, jobs and homes for a month, with none of that other baggage in tow.

So, the swap happens, and with both of them out of their comfort zones for now, you start to wonder just how long it will last. Surprisingly, Roxy realises that life back home is not quite as hideous as she had been imagining, and while she misses her old life, she can probably cope with this change for the month they've talked about. And as for Ginny, she takes to brothel work and free and single London life like a duck to water.

The result is an absolutely hilarious tale of two girls who set out to find out if the grass is greener on the best friend's side of the hill. Over the course of the book you can see the subtle changes in their views and behaviour emerging (Ginny toughens up, Roxy softens a bit) as they begin to realise just what life is like for the other one. Throw in a fit male stripper, a forty-something TV star, lots of toned girls in sparkly thongs and spandex cat suits, an annoying personal trainer and two pseudo-lesbian middle aged women, and you have a brilliant read that keeps your attention right up until the end.

I liked the way the story kept switching, chapter by chapter, from Roxy to Ginny and back again, without involving so many people's viewpoints that it got confusing. I loved the real characters (embarrassing mums, dense boys, sexy strippers, a Reverend with a penchant for dubious websites) and the juicy storyline, and I thought the appendices to lots of chapters – an old school report, a diary entry, a magazine article, a library loan list – were great for carrying on the story in different ways.

Thanks go to the publishers for sending this in to The Bookbag.

For more about what it's like in the 'leisure industry' we can recommend Callgirl by Jenny Angell. We also enjoyed Spilt Milk, Black Coffee by Helen Cross.

Booklists.jpg My Best Friend's Life by Shari Low is in the Top Ten Books For Your Girlfriend.

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