Bestseller Green (Swapping Lives, The Other Woman) injects a topical note into an otherwise paint-by-numbers work. After a terrorist attack on an Amtrak train kills 39-year-old Tom, his death serves as the catalyst for changes in the lives of four estranged schoolmates he left behind in England. Reuniting at Tom's memorial service are Holly, a former free spirit uncomfortably forced into becoming a suburban matron by her workaholic, social-climbing husband; Olivia, a lonely director of an animal shelter; Paul, a writer whose blissful marriage with his fashionable wife is marred by their inability to conceive; and Saffron, a recovering alcoholic actress secretly involved with a married Hollywood megastar. Tom's death reignites their friendship, causes them to reevaluate their lives and sends them marching toward a concluding warm fuzzy. Green's writing is competent, though her characters feel more like embodiments of their problems than actual people. There are few surprises, but the fairy tale ending should appease Green's many fans.
Jane Green always delivers. Always. My lack of enthusiasm for this her 9th novel stems only from the fact that I was unable to fully relate to the characters and their individual crises. Dealing with unexpected death by terrorism, divorce, inability to conceive, unwanted pregnancy and alcoholism is serious business and all things that I, at the tender age of 29, have been fortunate (or unfortunate?) not to have yet experienced. I fully appreciated the themes of friendship and the idea of getting a second chance to do over parts of your life. I believe we can relate.
The characters are well established, as always, and Jane's trademark wit is present. I love the way she writes as if she's sitting across from you in a coffee shop telling you a story. Unfamiliar themes or not, it's easy to get lost in the story that she tells and root for the four friends to find their happy endings.
Final Take: 3.75/5