Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Sarah's Guest Review: Patricia Scanlan - A Time for Friends

Reviewed by Sarah Brew

When are the boundaries of friendship pushed too far, and when is it time to stop flying over oceans for someone who wouldn't jump over a puddle for you? There comes a time when Hilary Hammond has to make that call. 

Hilary and Colette O'Mahony have been friends since childhood, but when irrepressible Jonathan Harpur breezes into Hilary's life and goes into business with her, Colette is not best pleased. 

After their first encounter Colette thinks he's a 'pushy upstart' while he thinks she's 'a snobby little diva'. And so the battle lines are drawn and Hilary is bang in the middle. 

But as the years roll by and each of them is faced with difficult times and tough decisions, one thing is clear … to have a friend you must be a friend. 

And that's when Hilary discovers that sometimes your best friend can be your greatest enemy…

Amazon links: Kindle or Hardcover

A new book by Patricia Scanlan is always a treat to be savoured, so I was thrilled to be asked to review this. It took me a chapter or two to get into it but I was then totally engrossed by this insightful look at friendship, and the ways it needs to adapt and change as the life around us changes.  Hilary Hammond and Colette O’Mahony are childhood friends (after a rocky start that perhaps presages later events), despite (or maybe because of) the fact they are total opposites in many ways. Then the dynamic changes when Jonathan Harpur starts to have an impact on their lives; Hilary and Jonathan set up together in business, much to Colette’s disgust.

Will their friendship stand strong through the difficulties life brings?  Colette has always been the flighty one; Hilary the ‘earth mother’, the stable influence in Colette’s life and that remains at the heart of their friendship, through trouble and upheaval, including the problem period in the Irish economy which seems to be a feature of so much Irish fiction. 

Each of the three main protagonists is well depicted but my least favourite is Colette, who seems to think the world owes her. Colette is the ‘user’; the one who calls on her old friendship when things go wrong. The book straddles three time periods, and three eras in Irish economic development – a brief but telling introduction shows us the characters as children and then there are two major sections, ten years apart but with a smoothly handled transition that didn’t make me feel I had missed anything.

True friendship is never a stagnant thing and this book has those changes at its heart. Much of what Patricia says is oh, so true, and really made me ponder on friendship, on all it means, and on how we sometimes have to work to keep our friendships on course; important messages which will stay with me. At 615 pages, this really is quite a read but I promise you, it will pass all too quickly – although with a book this size I have to say that my preference for reading print books over eBooks was definitely put to the test! It’s a great read, not heavy going despite being emotional in places, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I'd like to thank Dawn at Simon & Schuster for sending me a proof copy of A Time for Friends and Sarah for reviewing it for the blog.

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