Tuesday, October 28, 2014

TWO-CENT TUESDAY :: Keep Your Friends Close

A brief two-cent opinion about Paula Daly's Keep Your Friends Close:

Natty Wainwright and Eve Dalladay have been friends since college. Eve is visiting Natty and her family (husband Sean, teen daughters Alice and Felicity) in England when they receive word Felicity has fallen gravely ill while on a field trip in Paris. Natty flies off to what may be Felicity's death bed, only to return ten days later to discover Sean has fallen in love with Eve and is leaving Natty to be with her. Natty, always organized and in control, begins to slowly but surely unravel. As secrets in her past begin to surface and Eve uses them against her, Natty also begins to discover her friend is not all she has claimed to be and her intentions towards Natty's family have little to do with love.

I really liked Paula Daly's last novel, Just What Kind of Mother Are You?, and was very much looking forward to this offering. Daly tells a good story, a compelling story. Her narrative and dialogue feel authentic and her characters multi-faceted. In fact, I think she excels at writing characters secondary to the story. Natty's dad, investigating officer Joanne Aspinall, Joanne's Aunt Jackie, and even Sean's bitch of a mother, Penny, were all a pleasure to read and worthy characters despite their more limited page time.

Problematically, I didn't find the main characters or the overall story arc particularly believable. This isn't always a bad thing, I don't demand reality in every nook and cranny of a story. But many times here the fictions became distracting to the narrative as I questioned their likelihood. Would Sean, his daughter deathly ill, really unzip his pants without a second thought upon Eve's first advance, mere days after his wife leaves town? Would Natty react in some of the arguably unhinged ways she did? Would Eve target someone with whom she's had such a long-standing history and who therefore has more knowledge about her and reason to question her actions?

The book was an easy and entertaining read, the author is great at keeping the narrative flowing at a fast pace. Unfortunately, I kept waiting for the twist at the end (similar to the Daly's last offering) and it just never came. Although I really liked Natty's ultimate act, the end didn't particularly satisfy. Ultimately, Keep Your Friends Close is less a mystery and more a story about the unraveling of the characters and a marriage.


Rhonda said...

I'm not familiar with her work, but I do remember you telling me that I might like Just What Kind of Mother Are You? I will read that one - not sure if this one is for me.

Malcolm Avenue Review said...

I don't think this one is in your wheelhouse, Rhonda. First one, maybe, but it wouldn't be at the top of my list for you. Thanks for stopping by!

About Malcolm Avenue Review

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a nifty, oak-shaded ranch house on Malcolm Avenue, a wide-laned residential street with little through traffic, located amid the foothills of Northern California. It was on that street and in that house I learned most of my adolescent life lessons, and many grown-up ones to boot. Malcolm Avenue was "home" for more than thirty years.

It was on Malcolm Avenue, through and with my family and the other families that made up our neighborhood of characters, that I first learned about and gained an appreciation for the things I continue to love the most to this day: music, animals, photography, sports, television/movies and, of course, books.

I owe a debt of gratitude to that life on Malcolm Avenue. It gave me a sense of community and friendship, support and adventure. For better and worse, life on that street likely had the biggest impact on the person I've become. So this blog, and the things I write here, are all, at their base level, a little bit of a love letter to Malcolm Avenue.


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