21/12/2011

My Best Friend's Girl (by Dorothy Koomson)

I have very much enjoyed the novels I have read so far by Dorothy Koomson, so, as is my wont, I am gradually adding more of them to my wishlists. I received a copy of this one for my birthday, and have just read it in the past couple of weeks.

'My best friend's girl' is a novel related by Kamryn, a young and fairly successful business woman. We quickly learn that she is estranged both from her closest friend Adele, and her former fiancé Nate. The story opens on Kamryn's 32nd birthday. Amidst the flurry of excitement about her cards, she opens - by mistake - an envelope in Adele's handwriting, and finds a brief note asking her, urgently, to visit her friend in hospital.

Against her better judgemet, Kamryn goes to see Adele, and they begin a tentative reconciliation. They also have a discussion... which ends with Kamryn agreeing to do something she has grave doubts about, and which will unquestionably change her life forever.

It's impossible to say much more about the plot of this book without giving something away; even the blurb on the back contains some spoilers. Not that they matter too much; the novel is primarily character-based, with developing relationships through painful, sometimes tragic circumstances. I'm not surprised to learn that it was a best-seller, recommended as a Richard and Judy summer read back in 2006.

Overall, despite taking longer than usual to finish it, I found this book uplifting and encouraging. Kamryn is a very likeable young woman, who takes her responsibilities seriously. Adele's daughter Tegan is the 'best friend's girl' of the title; we meet her first when she is a scared, hurting five-year-old, terrified even to speak lest she get into trouble. Her heartbreaking circumstances move Kamryn as nothing else could have done; one of the things I enjoyed most about this book was seeing Tegan's gradual transformation into an outgoing, lively girl, who still has a deeply caring and thoughtful side.

There are not just one but two important men in the book, as well. One of them is Nate, who re-appears in Kamryn's life, causing a great deal of uncertainty. The other is her new boss Luke, who seems to dislike her on sight. Both of these guys develop special relationships with Tegan in different ways, and I enjoyed the contrast, as well as the uncertainty, really right the way through the book, about which one (if either) was going to end up with Kamryn.

There's some bad language; sufficient to make me slightly uncomfortable at times, though it wasn't really overdone. And there are the casual morals that seem compulsory in modern fiction - but, all in all, a very thought-provoking and powerful book.

Definitely recommended.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 21st December 2011

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