It had always been the six of us.
Since we met at university twenty-five years ago, we’d faced everything together. Break-ups and marriages, motherhood and death. We were closer than sisters; the edges of our lives bled into each other.
But that was before the night of the reunion. The night of exposed secrets and jagged accusations. The night when everything changed.
And then we were five.
Guest post by Tina Seskis
Character Profile – Siobhan
Siobhan is a handful. She is scatty and loud and generally annoying. At university she was always losing her keys, scoffing her flatmates’ food, forgetting her library card, going to the wrong lectures, mangling her washing, and her friends affectionately despaired of her. However, since college Siobhan has got her act together and now has a very successful career in media sales, although the others seem to think that she is still as useless as ever, which hurts her feelings sometimes. She has a boyfriend, Matt, who she is mad about, but who she feels very unsure of, as she has been let down by boyfriends so many times in the past. She is desperate to get married and have children, and is terrified it will never happen for her now. Siobhan is tall and more attractive than she realises, with long legs and an open honest face. She is the only daughter of lovely parents who adore her and have always believed in her. She is fiercely loyal and able to keep a secret, at least until she has too much Prosecco…
* Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review*
‘When We Were Friends’ is the second novel by Tina Seskis and it was previously published under the title ‘A Serpentine Affair’. I haven’t read Tina’s debut, ‘One Step Too Far’, but after reading this one, I’m definitely bumping it up in my TBR pile.
‘When We Were Friends’ is a layered, complex story involving six main characters. Siobhan, Natasha, Sissy, Juliette, Renee and Camilla, but we also meet some more side characters who add to their stories. They’ve been friends for more than two decades, ever since the first year at University and they’re having a reunion in Hyde Park near Serpentine. However, things get messy and only five of them leave their meeting.
But before we find out what happened to the sixth friend and which of them didn’t leave with the rest, the author takes us back to the past, when they were students and follows each of their lives. Written in short chapters, the author does a brilliant job in sharing each of their stories, building up the tension and making you think a lot. We meet these 6 ladies, now in their forties, who are so different. There was a point when I even wondered how they could be friends after all, so much has happened between them, there are some secrets which could seriously tear them apart. However, they were once inseparable, and helped each other a lot in the past. They’ve changed during the years, they’ve gone their own ways, some married with children, the other focused on their careers. What was strange is that I didn’t get the impression all of them were looking forward to the reunion and their meeting in Hyde park. I started wondering, what really happened to them, as some of them felt like they were forced and uncomfortable being at the picnic.
Despite taking off slowly, ‘When We Were Friends’ ended up being one hell of a gripping book. I remember talking about this book with a friend on twitter, who was also reading it at the same time. I worried the pace is too slow for my liking and asked if finally things will start happening. I was reassured things will pick up after we meet all of the characters a bit better, and my friend was right. One of the best things about this book, despite the beautifully portrayed characters, is that I was suspecting everyone. Literally everyone. At the beginning, we don’t even know who the victim is. This was really interesting as usually in thrillers I’m focused on finding out who the killer is. But what’s also interesting is that even when I tried to guess, I was proved wrong. So really, this book was messing with my head and I really had hard time putting it down. I really REALLY was hooked and wanted to find out which of the ladies didn’t leave the picnic and who’s responsible for that.
It’s kind of hard to compare this book to any of the mystery/thrillers I’ve read before. It’s like, it’s an own category. While definitely being suspenseful and has the elements of a psychological thriller, it’s even more than that. There are so many characters and stories to follow, yet it won’t get you confused and Ms Seskis’ brilliant writing will help you distinguish each of them. You’ll feel like you really know them, maybe you’ll even recognize a bit of yourself in some of them. Maybe you’re organized like Camilla or loud like Renee.
Another thing which I really liked is that it’s a thought provoking book. It’ll make you think about you relationships and friends, those that have lasted throughout the years and those you haven’t been in touch with for a while. Definitely refreshing and rather different to the books I’ve read so far, ‘When We Were Friends’ is a great and enjoyable read. Despite the flashbacks to the characters’ university years, I only wish there was more about their good moments as friends. I wish I found out about the moments that brought them all together, how they meet etc. I think it would definitely make things more dynamic at the beginning.
However, despite my remarks, ‘When We Were Friends’ didn’t disappoint and is a book I’d definitely recommend. Suspenseful with loads of drama and mystery, beautiful writing and in depth analyzed characters, make sure you don’t miss it.
My rating: 8/10
Thanks to the lovely folks at Penguin we have THREE PAPERBACKS of ‘When We Were Friends’ by Tina Seskis to give away. The giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY and closes on 29th April. Winners will be contacted by e-mail or on twitter and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. If we don’t hear from them, we’ll pick a new winner/s. This Chick Reads is not responsible for sending out the prizes, as the giveaway is sponsored by Penguin. Enter through rafflecopter and best of luck, guys!