Friday 14 January 2011

Foursome by Jane Fallon

Rebecca, Daniel. Alex, Isabel. Four best friends who met at university and end up married, having babies and living just streets away from each other. When Alex ends his marriage to Isabel, everything changes - and Rebecca is forced to acknowledge that life might never be the same again, especially when Alex gets together with Rebecca's hated colleague, Lorna.

Okay, here to start with is a comment on book covers. I'm used to my chick lit novels having pink or pastel or glittery covers. Foursome has a slightly more serious cover and I was fooled into thinking that Fallon might be covering weighty issues the way that Marian Keyes does in her books. Instead, we get a fluffy tale about a falling out between friends and how lying is BAD. And, yes, that message is hammered home.

Having got my head around the difference between cover and contents, I whipped through this soft confection of lies and lovers in less than a day. Fallon's prose is incredibly readable - she had me turning pages feverishly, even though I scoffed incredulously at most of the plot within the book.

I really enjoyed the first part of the book where the savage office relationship between Rebecca and Lorna is explored. Lorna is a hateful character, memorable, spiteful and with a fantastic turn in passive aggressive behaviour. I had the urge to throttle her, and, as far as I'm concerned, if an author makes you have a visceral reaction like that to a character then they are doing a fine job.

My problems came when Rebecca decided that, rather than tell her bosses that Lorna was going through big personal issues that kept her from work (the normal way to deal with a work issue), she decides to perform a series of lies and charades to pretend that everything is fine with Lorna's performance. This just wouldn't happen, and I could not suspend my disbelief. At all. I found myself rolling my eyes at the behaviour of many of the characters.

With that said, I think Fallon also has a deft touch when it comes to characterisation. She writes strong and real female characters, who are bitchy and loving by turn. Those that are mothers have warm and realistic relationships with their children, who are also written well.

With Fallon's ability to write these great characters, and her smooth prose, it made me even more disappointed at the ridiculous plot. I would really love to see what Fallon is capable of when she has a decent storyline to work with. I will be reading more novels by this author, for sure, but now I know that I shall be using them as light reads when I need fluffy escapism.

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