Help From our Friends or our Frenemies: FAST FRIENDS

Fast Friends

Fast Friends audio coverAuthor Jill Mansell
Narrated by Lucy Rayner
Published by Tantor Media
Publication date Jan 1, 2019
Running time 21 hrs

I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


Isn’t life more fun in the fast lane?

When bored housewife and mother Camilla Stewart impulsively invites her old school friends for dinner, she hardly imagines that the evening will shatter her comfortable existence. But Roz Vallender and Loulou Marks are no ordinary guests. Roz is a stunning and self-assured TV presenter, while the reckless Loulou owns Vampires, the trendiest wine bar in town.

When they reveal that Camilla’s husband Jack has been playing around, Camilla determines to make some changes. With a little help from her friends, she soon finds out that life in the fast lane is a lot more fun—and the future still holds plenty of surprises.


My Take Oblong Shaped

I listened to this audiobook about a month ago and then did a quick relisten to parts.  The important bits, for me anyway, is what sticks with me when  a little time has past.

I usually enjoy Jill Mansell’s books, and and at 21 hours, it’s a good value for a credit.  And, it’s long because it spans many years in the lives of three friends who attended boarding school together.  I thought of them as a mean wolf, a somewhat nicer wolf, and a lamb.  Roz used people, a total frenemy, LouLou was just totally self-absorbed, and Camilla was a doormat. They each continue to behave like that until they cannot continue in that fashion and succeed. 

As they grow up and leave school, where only a prologue occurs, they lose contact with each other.  And at first, when they get back in touch it seems like it is going to be bad for Camilla, but it is a catalyst for each person, centering around the lamb, who now is propelled into adulthood or, to keep the analogy going, being a sheep.  In this case the sheep has also developed some self-defense. 

The book travels between the women’s three lives, although the way the book goes, you know Camilla will finally get her HEA and Roz and Lou Lou will be getting their comeuppance. Or, will they? Each has advances, and set backs, and Jill delves into new terrain as well as repeating some persistent themes involving tragic loss, parenting, and parentage.

Lucy Rayner is a good narrator for this piece; there are a lot of characters and diverse accents. She keeps them all straight, and for the most part, believable.

I was surprised by the length of the book, the complicated nature of the stories, and their interleaved nature.  While at times the plot made me want to scream, to point out that Roz was a bitch but probably developed it as a defense mechanism against an  overbearing mother.

I do not know the source of LouLou’s flakey, but persistent, nature; her insistence that what she wants is what will happen. Camilla is the good girl who becomes a door mat and then becomes something else.  Her character shows you don’t have to be awful or mean to be successful at life. And she wouldn’t get where she ends up without her “friends.” The book had it’s predictable parts and also offered surprises.  It was an interesting saga and I enjoyed most if it. 

But, I would not consider the three women friends from school days. I think the title is misleading: it implies a constancy over time of the relationshiops, and it is not how it happens. I would have considered them the users and the used.  They don’t really become friends until each is reduced to her essence.  Camilla’s essence turns out to be stronger, and Roz and LouLou change  because they suffer trials they can’t bully or charm their way through.

I think the power of friendship referred to in the description, is the power of the adult friendships that they develop as grown ups when all their posturing and power plays are gone.

The power of adult friendships are, in my mind,  as strong as the friendships developed via the proximity of neighborhood or school.  That’s where these friendships, and the story , derive their strength.

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