Keep Your Friends Close — A review

Two things happened yesterday.   The sun came out and I read a book.     The second of those points is not unusual.  I often read a book but what I don’t do very often do is read a book in one sitting.    The last few weeks have been more bonkers than I can begin to explain.   Preparing for Africa,  supporting the relay, working, trying to keep this blog going, looking after the house, being a mum, it has all been a bit crazy.    And time for me to switch off has been zilch.

I have also been under the weather for a couple of weeks and not firing on all cylinders.  Popping pain killers and other tablets is not really my thing but it has become a regular thing recently and yesterday I got the point where I thought:  “ugggh I just want to crawl into bed”.     And at pretty much the same time the postman knocked on my door and delivered the post.    In that post was an envelope from my lovely “sister” Alison Barrow containing a book by an author I had not heard of before:  Paula Daly.    Keep your friends close.

I put the kettle on, sat on the sofa and said “sod it”  I am kicking back a bit today and getting into this book.   Well I couldn’t put it down.   Standing in the queue at the post office, yep I was that person reading a book.   I got to school half an hour early so I could read.   Whilst cooking dinner, I was still holding it.    Man City were playing last night and I didn’t complain once.   In fact when Mr B walked in the TV was off and I actually said “aren’t City playing?” and encouraged him to turn it on.   So I could carry on reading.

I finished it by bedtime.   Total reading time five hours.    It was THAT good.

This book tells the story of Natty and Sean who receive a phone call that their daughter has been taken ill on a school trip to France.   The same day that Natty’s university friend, Eve,  arrives from the US after the break up of her marriage.   What happens next is the stuff of nightmares.     As Natty dashes off to France to be with her and Sean’s daughter, Eve gets her claws into Sean and basically steals Natty’s life.   She destroys it.   Completely.

The pace never lets up and focuses on just a handful of characters who you can instantly connect with.     The whole story unfolds in just a few weeks  though its history goes back 18 odd years to the girls’ days at uni, though Natty doesn’t really know the half of her best friend’s real background.

I can see a lot of people not really liking Natty.  She is a control freak.   Fiercely driven.   Always busy.   Refusing to let other people help.   The problem for me is that she is me.   I see so much of myself in her.    To such an extent I had to tweet Paula Daly and tell her that.  Paula replied that it was her too!

One of the reasons I love Twitter, that you can chat to the author as you read their book.   It’s great fun.

This book is not fun but it is superb.   And I am now terrified of what might happen if E gets ill on holiday when she goes away with friends in May.  If that does happen I am taking every one of my friends with me and locking Mr B in a monastery.

The book is published by Bantam Press and is out today.

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