Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Best of Friends by Joanna Trollope

Title: The Best of Friends
Author: Joanna Trollope
ISBN: 9780552996433
Publisher: Black Swan/1995
Pages: 315/Trade Paperback
Rating: 3.5/5

Reading the book blurb reminded me of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin. However, that feeling was dispelled as soon I read more than 50 pages. It is about Laurence and Gina, who are best of friends since they were teenagers. Laurance falls in love with Hillary and marries her and they have three sons, George, Adam and Gus. They both run a small Hotel. After some time Gina falls in love with Fergus and marries him and they have a daughter, Sophy.

The story starts with Sophy and Gus talking to each other. Gus although two years younger than the sixteen year old Sophy thinks himself in love with her. Sophy gets along well with all the three brothers as they have practically known each other all their lives.

Fergus leaves Gina leaving her devastated. Gina turns to Laurence. Sophy tries to deal with her feelings in her own way, being silent, sullen and angry. She goes off and on to live with her grandmother Vi. Meanwhile Laurence falls in love with Gina, or maybe he had loved her always but not realised it until now. Gina is now very happy about it and plans her future with Laurence. When Hillary and his sons come to know, they too are angry and resentful about it. They boys are sympathetic towards their mother and hate Gina. When Sophy too comes to know of it, she runs away to London to be with her father. Nonetheless, Sophy comes back home to her mother.

This novel is about marriage, relationships and all that entails it. Are Laurence and Gina right in wanting to be together at the expense of others? Can he give up on his life, Hillary and his sons? What about Sophy and Vi? Where do they come into the picture? Hillary and the boys might hate Gina but everyone is concerned about Sophy. They care for Vi too. Gina turns to Laurence as it is very normal for her to do so. He has always been there for her.

Trollope empathises with the characters. Her analysis is good too. The Best of Friends asks a few relevant questions, which can be summarisd by what Vi tells her daughter Gina when she (Gina) says she loves Laurence. She has loved him all her life.

"That's not enough,"she (Vi) said without turning to look at Gina. "It's not enough to give you the right to do as you please."