By Mhairi McFarland
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that harm done with explicit conscious intention of doing another person harm accounts for about two percent of all harm inflicted. That descriptor pretty much only applies to dictators in banana republics, serial killers, and PE teachers.”
Today’s turning out to be a helluva day for self-discovery…I’m sincerely sorry for having hurt you. I didn’t intend any of it…” “Apology accepted….”
Mhairi McFarland always combines both wit and comedy, a great romance, and strong characterizations with thoughtful insights on serious issues. She is a deep thinker. In her latest effort, she examines grief and the joys and dangers of deep lifelong friendships. Yes, dangers.
“Hester recently observed that we are mutually “idling in neutral gear.” And “having each other stops all of you lot looking for more. Co-dependency. You are each other’s other halves, so you don’t bother with relationships as well.”
Eve, our protagonist, is smart, sweet and caring, charming, beautiful but doesn’t know it, and somewhat of an under-achiever. She is blessed with a strong bond with 3 others. Susie is charismatic, fierce, and spoiled but a wonderful and devoted best friend. They are each others “comfort and joy.” Jason is funny, irreverent, and sensible. He’s the gay one. Ed is the ultimate good guy: Attractive, responsible, super-nice, and does everything right. They all love each other very much and share a nearly 20-year bond. But Eve has been secretly head over heels in love with Ed for years.
Then early in the book, one of the three is suddenly killed. They, particularly Eve, must now navigate a world without one of their own. Eve tries to reconcile the contradictions and mysteries that emerge as truths and secrets are revealed. It turns out that she did not know her friends as well as she thought. With the help of an outsider, she starts to see herself and her compatriots in a whole new light.
That’s all it would be wise to reveal as there are a number of surprises and revelations from almost first to almost last. The first is “who died?” and I don’t even want to reveal that. I will say that I have some quibbles with the final outcome. Although the ending is happy and satisfying, I felt like Eve was still a little stuck. I wanted her to move onward and upward in more than one aspect of her life, and I don’t think she did. As much as I loved this book, it also must be said that, for me, there was a little too much philosophizing, wondering, and contemplating. But it was understandable and thought-provoking so maybe I’m not being fair. I did appreciate that though the friends’ history and past experiences are delved into, the book is very much anchored in the present. It was so good I deliberately paced myself, because I wanted it to last as long as possible. **4 1/2 stars**
May 11, 2021