Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Soon each woman is second-guessing the choices she’s made—and the ones she can unmake—as she becomes aware of new opportunities around every corner, from attentive colleagues and sexy neighbors to flirtatious past lovers. And as fantasies blur with real life, Jennifer, Bridget and Tamara begin to realize how little they know about each other, their marriages, and themselves, and how much there is to gain—and lose—when you step outside the rules… -- Kensington
Last year, I read a great novel called ACCORDING TO JANE by Marilyn Brant. I was very impressed with the originality of the story as well as the author's writing style. It was just a really fun book -- you can read my review here. So when Ms. Brant offered to send me a copy of her new novel FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE, I jumped at the chance.
When I read the description for FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE, I was pretty much knew that I wanted to read this novel. It tells the story of three women who just happen to share some similarities with me -- they are around the same age as I am, they have been married to the same man for a long time, and they are all mothers. And, I loved that the women met weekly over coffee to discuss their lives. I really was expecting their stories to resonate with me.
I have to admit that FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I won't go so far as to say that I was disappointed with the novel. I just wasn't able to connect with the characters as much as I had hoped. All three women are at some sort of cross-roads in their lives and they begin to really questions many of their decisions (and especially their marriages.) Despite having much in common with these characters (at least on the outside), I'm just not in the same situation of doubting my relationship with my husband. I found it hard to relate to their discontent, secrets, and even their infidelities. (Having said that, I do have quite a few friends who will relate to these characters on many levels -- including the marital issues; and I know that FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE will be an ideal read for many women who are frustrated with their lives.)
Even though I did have some problems relating to the characters, I did find some redeeming traits in each one of them. At times, my heart went out to each of the three women because they were so miserable in their lives -- and no one should be as discontent as they were. What I did find myself relating to for each of the women was their love and commitment to their children.
There were some other really good things about this novel. Once again, I found Ms. Brant's writing to be quite good. I thought she did a great job of developing the characters and drawing the reader into their lives; and I think her dialogue is pretty realistic (although I have to warn you that there were quite a few swear words.) In addition, I really liked how the chapters alternated between each of the three characters' stories. For the most part, I thought Ms. Brant was able to capture each of their voices; however, I'm embarrassed to say that it did take me a little while to catch on to all of the supporting characters and how they fit into the stories.
I also appreciated how Ms. Brant ended the novel and wrapped up each of the characters' lives. Not all of the stories had traditional happy endings, and I respect that the characters all evolved a great deal throughout the course of the story. Even though I didn't always like some of the decisions that the characters made, I did think their actions were very human. FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE was definitely a book that made me think about my friends and their situations; and it made me deeply appreciate my own life!
I do think FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE would make a wonderful book club pick. I already know that the members of my club would find many things to both like and dislike about the characters; and when there is some disagreement about the characters' actions and/or personalities, it always makes for an interesting discussion. I was very happy to find that there is a reading guide included in the back of the book with some great questions. Some of the topics you might want to further explore include marriage, infidelity, friendship, parenting, identity crises, acceptance, and forgiveness. Some other fun things to discuss are the fairy tale theme as well as the novel's 1970s soundtrack.
Even though I didn't exactly relate to FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE, I still think it was an interesting (and fun) book. And it did give me a lot to think about relating to marriage, forgiveness and self-awareness. I recommend this book if you enjoy women's fiction or mom lit!
Thanks to the author for sending me a review copy of this book.