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When We Were Friends by Tina Seskis

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When We Were Friends by Tina Seskis

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: A real page-turner; you will absolutely not be able to put this book down.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: April 2015
Publisher: Penguin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1405917957

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Six friends meet at Bristol University; six very different people from six very different backgrounds. Six lives intertwined in an assortment of ways… break-ups, marriages, careers, motherhood and bereavement; until one night six become five.

I love a book that begins Part One because it’s already promising to give me more than just one bite of the cherry… it’s telling me that there is more than I think there is going to be. When We Were Friends most assuredly delivers on that promise.

We are introduced, in moreish morsels, to six almost lifelong friends. Firstly, there is Juliette to whom motherhood does not come naturally, then to Camilla, a Mary Berry devotee, Earth Mother and career wife. Thirdly, we meet Natasha, one-time mouse-poor Glasgow girl come good and fourthly the try-hard-and-mostly-fail Siobhan. By no means least, we are acquainted with unfortunate mother-of-two and recently widowed Sissy and finally to tough cookie, Renee.

The scene is set with a long awaited reunion of the six university besties; a picnic in Hyde Park and although such an outing is Camilla’s idea of Heaven, the same cannot be said for her five friends. However, with no small amount of duty, they all turn up – some predictably late – and reacquaint themselves with each other. There is food and there is wine and there are also some old scores that have not been settled; it turns out that time does not heal all wounds and some are fresher than others. All is most certainly not as it would seem, for beneath the still of the surface waters, each friend is battling her own demons.

I thought I might struggle to remember who was who and who married who and who was best friends with who, but after 50 pages or so, I found myself not having to double-check anymore and got on with the business of reading. When there are so many complex protagonists, I sometimes feel like giving up trying to remember, but Seskis hands you these creatures in such perfect measure, I found myself eager for more. I sped through the first 150 pages to the tantalising Part Two, with alacrity.

And. It. Was. Good. Really good. I got completely wrapped up in the plot, which hopped deftly, not just from character viewpoint to character viewpoint, but also through the timeline of the various lives and how they meshed together. It flowed beautifully; flawlessly even. There was no jarring of the continuum and each snippet of story was timed to perfection. Just when I started to wonder about something, the next chapter told me just enough to want to keep devouring the pages.

Tina Seskis is a talented writer and no mistake. Initially, I really didn't know if I was going to enjoy such a large cast of females but I felt such a connection with all of them - they all had something in common with each other and, interestingly, me. In reading the story, I didn't so much feel like I was observing their lives like a fly-on-the-wall, as much as I felt like they were my friends too.

To summarise, this is a great book and a terrifically satisfying read; the chapter sizes make it an excellent choice for a commute read and I'm confident that most women seeking out a review for When We Were Friends and buying it, will connect with the characters like I did.

If the above sounds appealing, you may also enjoy When Good Friends Go Bad by Ellie Campbell which we highly recommend or perhaps you might like to try To My Best Friends by Sam Baker which, whilst death ultimately features quite consistently in the storyline, turns out to be a very uplifting read.

Finally, a huge thank you to the kind folks at Penguin books for providing a copy of When We Were Friends to review.

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