Review of City of Friends by Joanna Trollope

This was one of my Christmas presents and having heard Joanna speak at a literary festival a few years ago I was interested to read it.

It’s a very women friendly book, I feel, and I finished it full of admiration and with a warm glow about how well the four friends in the book handled life and supported one another. As ever I think Joanna Trollope is wonderful at relationships between friends and the subtle shades of tolerance, empathy, group dynamics and understanding that can arise when a group of people have known one another for a long time. The four women are very well drawn and mostly believable. The book centres around what happens when one woman loses her job and her friends try to support her. There’s also a parent with dementia, difficult teenagers, one of whom is just getting to know his biological father, which has complex repercussions. The story raises all sort of questions about the lives of women in work, can they have careers, families and juggle everything satisfactorily? What sort of support do women need from husbands, partners etc?

A good read in general. If I had to make one comment and this might say more about me than the book, all but one of the women work in finance in the City  and the fourth is an academic, working in the field of business psychology . It’s a very London centred novel and for someone who works in a caring role in the provinces like me, I struggled to relate to them pitching for work, managing clients and improving the structures of companies and so on. But maybe that’s the point and Joanna was trying to show that women can do these jobs and do them well and differently to men? Recommended. ****

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