Book reviews

Posts tagged ‘Jane Green’

The Friends We Keep by Jane Green

If I was writing a school report for Jane Green after she handed in The Friends We Keep my comment would be “Could do better.”

I was bored with the story well before I’d finished the first 100 pages. I only skimmed through to the end to confirm my suspicion that nothing much of interest would happen.

Evvie, Maggie and Topher met in university and became friends. Later their lives went in different directions and they drifted apart. Thirty years later they found each other again and the secrets of why they really drifted apart came out.

I thought the story was unoriginal, I didn’t feel particularly connected to any of the characters, wasn’t inspired by the locations, and thought the writing was somewhat lazy and the dialogue dull.

I’ve enjoyed Jane Green’s more recent books so am hoping The Friends We Keep was just a blip.

Summer Secrets by Jane Green

It seems strange to have read Summer Secrets by Jane Green in early May in Australia. May is our last month of autumn and while I was reading the temperature in Melbourne turned cold, the wind howled and we had good, soaking rain over several days.

Not surprisingly I enjoyed my little summer escape to London and Nantucket with Cat, a London journalist.

Cat is an alcoholic. Time and again she messed things up for herself. She always meant well but lost jobs, woke up in strange apartments with men she didn’t know and ruined relationships with people she loved. Like a cat with nine lives though, she somehow also managed to fall on her feet most of the time, at least up until her husband decided he had had enough and left her.

Through hard work and the invaluable assistance of Alcoholics Anonymous, Cat managed to work her way through a number of steps to recovery. When she got to a step which required her to make amends to those she had wronged, Cat travelled to Nantucket with her teenage daughter to apologise to her estranged sisters for her past behaviour.

While I enjoyed Summer Secrets (particularly the chapters set on Nantucket, which I plan to visit one day), I did slightly skim through the story, probably because this was the wrong book for me at the wrong time. Like many others I’m struggling to concentrate on novels at present.

Despite my lack of concentration, I think Summer Secrets is an ideal beach holiday read.

The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green


The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green is exactly the book I always hope for from this author.

Likeable characters? Tick.

Interesting trials and tribulations? Tick.

Satisfying resolutions? Tick.

Ronni Sunshine was a famous Hollywood actress who had three daughters, serious, I-can-cope-with-anything Nell, anxious, bury-my-head-in-the-sand Meredith and indulged, get-out-of-my-way Lizzie. Ronnie’s career was more important to her than her children, whom she bullied, ignored and eventually alienated. By the time they were adults the sisters had lost touch with each other. Nell, Meredith and Lizzie told themselves they didn’t really care, but later, when Ronnie learned she was dying, she summoned her daughters to her and they came.

Each of the sisters had problems which could be traced back to their upbringing. Nell was a hardworking single mother, unwilling to allow herself to love anyone other than her child. Meredith had supressed her artistic nature and was about to marry a controlling, pompous bore. Beautiful Lizzie was busy repeating her mother’s mistakes.

I was reasonably sure the sisters would resolve their differences and come to terms with their own character flaws by the end of the story, but happily read on to make sure…

Perfect beach read? Tick.

Falling by Jane Green


I find Jane Green’s novels a bit hit and miss, sometimes I love them, sometimes I don’t. Falling fell into the enjoyable but predictable category. I finished the book in a few hours, and I’m writing this review right away as I probably won’t remember the plot tomorrow.

Falling tells the story of Emma, an English, upper-middle class banker, who recently left her job in New York with a big pay-out, in order to live a simpler life in a small town on the beach. Emma chooses Westernport because she has a single friend living there, but she quickly becomes friends with her hunky next-door neighbour, Domenic.

Domenic is a single father to a six-year old boy. He is also a bartender and a bit of a man about town, however he dumps his regular girlfriend, (apparently they weren’t serious), when he decides Emma might be ‘the one’.

Emma is a loner, who hasn’t had much luck with boyfriends. She falls in love with Domenic and they become a couple, despite their differences and the complications that come with Domenic being a single father.

This plot was all a bit fairy tale-ish, Emma of course is beautiful, Domenic is sexy and handsome, Emma is quite well off financially and so is Domenic, Emma decides to be an interior decorator when she has her sea-change and of course she finds rich clients who love her decorating style about a minute after she arrives in town. Not everything in the story is happy-happy though, Domenic’s six-year old son is a spoiled brat, plus Domenic has a lurking ex-girlfriend, and both Emma’s and Domenic’s parents are difficult.

From the beginning I couldn’t see this romance having a happy ending. I just got the feeling that eventually Domenic would get bored and take up with one of the yummy-mummies he regularly flirted with before Emma came along and she would get hurt. Both characters were lacking in depth and seemed to have become a couple based only on their sexual chemistry. (Hey, I’m not saying that never happens in real life, but unless I’m reading a Mills and Boon romance, I expect a bit more story).

I won’t spoil the surprise of how the story actually does finish, but don’t be surprised if you guess what happens for yourself. Falling is the perfect book for a sleepy read on the couch one afternoon when you can’t be bothered doing anything else.



Saving Grace by Jane Green


When I saw Saving Grace, the most recent book by Jane Green, I wasn’t really enthusiastic about reading it. I’ve read and enjoyed most of her novels, but some of her more recent novels have felt too choppy for me. Jane Green has a distinctive style, in which the character’s voices can be quite abrupt, but Saving Grace was much more to my liking with characters who thought in full sentences.

The heroine of the novel is Grace Chapman, a beautiful and elegant middle aged English woman, who is married to a best selling American writer. On the surface, Grace’s life looks idyllic. Grace has a grown up daughter, good friends lives in a farmhouse on the Hudson River in New York state. She sits on the board of a shelter to assist abused women and cooks for the shelter. Cooking is Grace’s passion and there are recipes at the end of some chapters, which is a bonus for people like me who like to read recipes. (I often have great intentions of making recipes I’ve read in novels, but despite occasionally going so far as to buy the ingredients, so far have never followed through with the actual cooking).

Underneath the surface though, Grace’s life is not ideal. Her husband, Ted, is a bully, whose books are becoming less popular. Grace has a history of being a victim. Her mother had mental health problems and when she was ill, treated Grace very badly. Ted’s long time assistant has also recently left their employ, causing their well organised life to deteriorate.

Grace and Ted attend a function where they meet Beth, who seems like the answer to their problems. Grace employs Beth as Ted’s assistant and she quickly becomes indispensable to him. Beth also takes on household jobs and assists Grace with work for the shelter. Little by little Beth insinuates herself into their lives. Beth quickly transforms from a plain and frumpy woman to become slimmer and more elegant, modelling herself on Grace’s style.

Beth also begins to undermine Grace, with Ted and with her work at the shelter, calling into question her sanity. Eventually Grace is misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder and becomes dependent on a cocktail of drugs. (The author makes a very strong point here that Americans have the highest incidences of bipolar disease and drug use in the world, and suggests that this is because of the influence of drug companies rather than true cases of mental illness in society). Either way, things come to a head when Grace catches Ted and Beth in an embrace and is locked up in a mental asylum because she became very, very angry. (I found Grace’s anger in this instance to be completely normal and understandable, but what would I know?)

Grace escapes to back to England to her surrogate family, where she is weaned off the drugs, correctly diagnosed with menopause and meets up again with the man who has always loved her. Things end up working out, (I suppose they always do, one way or another) but for me, the biggest part of Grace’s growth was realising and admitting that as both Ted and her mother’s victim, she had also played a part in enabling them to bully her. I don’t agree with bullying in any form, but all of the bullies and victims that I have ever known have both had a particular role in their relationship.

Based on my enjoyment of Saving Grace, I’ll go back to looking forward to reading the next Jane Green book.


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