Title: Mayflies

Author: Andrew O’Hagan

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Faber & Faber

The Blurb

Everyone has a Tully Dawson: the friend who defines your life.

In the summer of 1986, in a small Scottish town, James and Tully ignite a brilliant friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit. With school over and the locked world of their fathers before them, they rush towards the climax of their youth: a magical weekend in Manchester, the epicentre of everything that inspires them in working-class Britain. There, against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, a vow is made: to go at life differently. Thirty years on, half a life away, the phone rings. Tully has news.

Mayflies is a memorial to youth’s euphorias and to everyday tragedy. A tender goodbye to an old union, it discovers the joy and the costs of love.

The Review

What can I say about Andrew O’Hagan’s Mayflies that will do it justice; to accurately describe how perfect this book is? I can’t come up with anything except that this is the book I have been waiting to read for a long time.

It is essentially a book about the family you choose for yourself and how those friends become the most important people in your life. They are the ones that know you best. The ones who have seen you at your worst and not only love you for it but mercilessly mock you because they are the only ones who can get away with it.

What is brilliant but brutal about Mayflies is the highs and lows. When you think something bad is going to happen or a character won’t amount to much he pulls the rug from under you, defying your expectations and ultimately keeping you on your toes.

Mayflies will definitely be appearing in my top ten of the year list.

Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan is available now.

For more information regarding Faber & Faber (@FaberBooks) please visit www.faber.co.uk.

Title: Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase

Author: Jane Riley

Pages: 338 Pages

Publisher: Lake Union

The Blurb

His dying wish was to set her free. So why does she feel so trapped?

Jack had two dying wishes: that his wife scatter his ashes somewhere ‘exotic’, and that she not give up on life once he was gone. He intended to spur her on to new adventures, but despite clinging to her red suitcase, Geraldine Verne hasn’t left the house for three months.

It takes an accident for Geri to accept help from her friends, but when Meals on Wheels arrive she is mortified. Yet heartbroken volunteer Lottie brings with her more than cottage pie and custard. Like Geri, she too is struggling to cut loose.

As a gloriously unlikely friendship blossoms, Geraldine begins to feel a long-lost spark of life and a newfound confidence. Perhaps what both women needed most, after all, was each other.

The Review

There are some book themes that are hard to read. They bring you down or take you to a place that you don’t want to go to and you would think that a book which revolves around the theme of grief would be a book you would want to stay away from. Not Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase. It is simply wonderful.

Geraldine Verne’s husband has recently died and our journey with Geraldine through the novel is watching how she deals with grief and ultimately acceptance of her new situation. Her life without her beloved Jack.

Ultimately, Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase is a celebration of life, love, and the people who stick by you in the hard times and the knowledge that you will survive grief. Similar to The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase is a life affirming warm hug of a book and one you should all add to your TBR.

Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase by Jane Riley is available now.

For more information regarding Jane Riley (@JaneRileyAuthor) please visit www.linktr.ee/janeriley.

Title: The Weekend

Author: Charlotte Wood

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: Orion 

The Blurb

Sylvie, Jude, Wendy and Adele have a lifelong friendship of the best kind: loving, practical, frank and steadfast. But when Sylvie dies, the ground shifts dangerously for the remaining three.

These women couldn’t be more different: Jude, a once-famous restaurateur with a spotless life and a long-standing affair with a married man; Wendy, an acclaimed feminist intellectual; Adele, a former star of the stage, now practically homeless. 

Struggling to recall exactly why they’ve remained close all these years, the grieving women gather for one last weekend at Sylvie’s old beach house. But fraying tempers, an elderly dog, unwelcome guests and too much wine collide in a storm that brings long-buried hurts to the surface – a storm that will either remind them of the bond they share, or sweep away their friendship for good. 

The Review

The Weekend is the story of three friends – Adele, Wendy and Jude – as they spend the Christmas weekend clearing out the home of their friend Sylvie who has died. With decades of friendship behind them we learn that relationships between those you hold closest are often the ones with the darkest secrets.

Golden Girls, The Weekend ain’t. The group of friends are trying their hardest to hold it together but with age comes a lot of things, mainly invisibility and negativity from others. Without Sylvie, the dynamic of the friends has changed and the balance leads to revelations about the past that may have stayed better buried.

Charlotte Wood’s The Weekend is a great story of the lasting power of friendship and how people should be allowed to grow old in any way and whatever fashion that way they want.

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood is available now.

For more information regarding Orion (@orionbooks) please visit www.orionbooks.co.uk.

Title: Us Three

Author: Ruth Jones

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Random House/Transworld Publishers/Bantam Press

The Blurb

The new novel from Ruth Jones, author of the smash-hit, number one bestselling debut, Never Greener.

Meet Lana, Judith and Catrin. Best friends since primary school when they swore an oath on a Curly Wurly wrapper that they would always be there for each other, come what may.

After the trip of a lifetime, the three girls are closer than ever. But an unexpected turn of events shakes the foundation of their friendship to its core, leaving their future in doubt – there’s simply too much to forgive, let alone forget. An innocent childhood promise they once made now seems impossible to keep . . .

Packed with all the heart and empathy that made Ruth’s name as a screenwriter and now author, Us Three is a funny, moving and uplifting novel about life’s complications, the power of friendship and how it defines us all. Prepare to meet characters you’ll feel you’ve known all your life – prepare to meet Us Three.

The Review

What a heart-warming story. Lana, Judith and Catrin are best friends and have been since they can remember but when they begin to grow up and adulthood is on the horizon they inevitably begin to grow apart.

Told in a multi-perspective narrative form and during different time periods Us Three really does give the unique yet universal experience of belonging to a group of friends. Jones has captured the highs and lows of it perfectly.

I really loved reading Us Three. I loved the differentiation between the three main characters and how you didn’t have to work hard to figure out who was speaking – the character voices were so perfectly balanced for their personality. Jones makes it very easy for you to fall into their story. I also love that all you are kept on your toes throughout. You never see what is coming and when events do transpire your mind is blown how you didn’t see it all along. I was truly clueless as to where the plot was going but in the best possible way. Us Three can never be accused of being predictable.

Us Three is a brilliant novel that deals with the complexities of friendship and growing up.

Us Three by Ruth Jones is available from 3rd September 2020.

For more information regarding Random House (@penguinrandom) please visit www.penguinrandomouse.com.

For more information regarding Bantam Press (@BantamPress) please visit www.bantam.press.

Title: In Five Years

Author: Rebecca Serle

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: Quercus Books

The Blurb

Perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day, this heart-breaking story of love, loss and life will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about destiny…
Where do you see yourself in five years?

Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Kohan has been in possession of her meticulously crafted answer since she understood the question. On the day that she nails the most important job interview of her career and gets engaged to the perfect man, she’s well on her way to fulfilling her life goals.

That night Dannie falls asleep only to wake up in a different apartment with a different ring on her finger, and in the company of a very different man. The TV is on in the background, and she can just make out the date. It’s the same night – December 15th – but 2025, five years in the future.

It was just a dream, she tells herself when she wakes, but it felt so real… Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.

That is, until four and a half years later, when Dannie turns down a street and there, standing on the corner, is the man from her dream…

In Five Years is a love story, brimming with joy and heartbreak. But it is definitely not the love story you’re expecting.

The Review

I do love a good weepy story. Don’t get me wrong it doesn’t happen very often. I can probably count on one hand the amount of books that have managed to turn me into a quivering wreck. So when I read the blurb for In Five Years I was hopeful that this would be the next one to add to the list.

Alas, it didn’t make me crumble into a ball of tears but it was a very enjoyable read.

The protagonist Dannie Kohan was likeable in that weirdly neurotic driven sense. You admired her gumption and gusto for all things life and equally other characters were fleshed out and you found yourself fully immersed in this small New York contingent of friends. It was nice to be invited in to watch.

I really enjoyed this book. There was one questionable plot devices which didn’t quite sit as well with me as others would and I think that without them the book may have been slightly more enjoyable to read but when looking at the book as a whole this device didn’t stop me from thinking that the story was really well written (when you read it you will see what I mean).

The story seems to be marketed as a romance and in a sense it is romantic but for me it was the relationships between friends that solidified the story for me. Romance came in second place. It was this element that I enjoyed the most.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle is available now.

For more information regarding Rebecca Serle (@RebeccaASerle) please visit www.rebeccaserle.com.

For more information regarding Quercus Books (@QuercusBooks) please visit their Twitter page.