Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A Forgiven Friend (Friends #3), by Sue Feathersone & Susan Pape

Lakewater Press, November 2019

This is a hard book for me to review. It's the story of two old friends going through some variously rough and important times in their lives, and definitely some rough patches in their friendship. In alternating chapters, we get first person accounts from Lee and her friend Teri.

Lee is steady, responsible, thoughtful, considerate. Teri is impulsive, generally self-centered, never thinks she's at fault for anything. Even when she's trying to be helpful, she blurts things out--and that includes things she's been specifically asked not to share. Such as, blurting out to her ex-husband, now Lee's lover, Dan, the fact that Lee thinks she may be pregnant.

And then doing it again, to Lee's aging, conservative, Catholic mother, at the reception after the funeral of Lee's father.

The friendship between Lee and Teri is genuine and strong,and even when Teri is doing absolutely shocking things, she often thinks she's "helping." Lee also tries to help Teri make better decisions, in a less ham-handed, foot-in-mouth manner, but not always when Teri is willing to listen. And as one might guess from the fact that Teri's ex-husband has moved in with Lee, relationship issues often get a bit complicated.

It's not helped by the fact that Teri's approach to relationships with men is to start out thinking everything is hearts and roses, and then at the slightest difficulty to think that she's about to be rejected and she needs to save face by acting first.

That Lee and Teri are also somewhat professionally entangled, both being not just in academia, but specifically working (Lee permanently, Teri on an irregular basis made more irregular by how difficult she can be) at the University of Central Yorkshire, adds its own levels of complication. Then there's Teri's on/off again relationship with newspaperman Declan, and with Richard, a tv news presenter at Ridings Today, of which Dan is the managing director.

What makes this really, really frustrating for me as a reader is that the writing is excellent and the characters complex and convincing--and I really, really don't like Teri. She absolutely has her good points and her strengths, and she grows over the course of the book. Her taste in men definitely gets better.

But I don't like having to spend half the book inside her head.

Personally, I can't recommend this book, and yet I know a lot of people will like it far better than I do.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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