Hastings District Libraries

Monday, 12 February 2018

City of Friends by Joanna Trollope

The four women at the heart of Trollope’s new novel City of Friends all met at university where they were among the few females studying Economics. Now they have successful careers in ‘the city’ - the London world of business and high finance. Stacey is a fairly senior broker, Beth an academic who has made a name for her work in business psychology, Gaby runs a department in a large corporate bank and Melissa has her own business helping other businesses operate better. High flyers indeed!

When Stacey is given the sack for asking to work more flexible hours so she can better care for her mother, the four friends’ loyalties are tested. How do you talk to people who value their careers so highly when yours has gone down the gurglar? Melissa asks Gaby to find Stacey a job, but there is no room for someone of Stacey’s experience on her team. And Gaby has just hired someone who turns out to be married to the man who fathered Melissa’s child. Young Tom is getting to know his dad at last and enjoys hanging out with his half-brothers, giving Melissa pangs of jealousy. Meanwhile Beth runs into problems with her partner, Claire, who finds her too focused on work and well, a bit boring.

The women, their husbands and partners, as well their children, become caught up in a spiral of increasing difficulties of imagined slights and communication breakdown. Each of the four will have to pick up the phone, reconnect and think outside the box if they want to patch up their friendship.

Trollope has a lot to say about the notion of whether job satisfaction is all you need and the issue of work/life balance for women in management roles. She creates wonderful scenes with great dialogue  but overall, I found the women rather tedious and even just a bit silly. They seemed more concerned with taking offence, than dealing sensibly with big problems such job loss or relationship breakdowns. City of Friends is not one of my favourite JTs; however it is still oddly readable.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: City of Friends

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