Title: The Best of Us
Author: Sarah Pekkanen
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Paradise isn’t quite what it seems as four college friends meet for an island vacation in this captivating new novel from the acclaimed author of ‘These Girls’. Following a once-in-a-lifetime invitation, a group of old college friends leap at the chance to bring their husbands for a week’s vacation at a private villa in Jamaica to celebrate a former classmates’ thirty-fifth birthday. All four women are desperate for a break and this seems like a perfect opportunity. Tina is drowning under the demands of mothering four young children. Allie needs to escape from the shattering news about an illness that runs in her family. Savannah is carrying the secret of her husband’s infidelity. And, finally, there’s Pauline, who spares no expense to throw her husband an unforgettable birthday celebration, hoping it will gloss over the cracks that have already formed in their new marriage. The week begins idyllically, filled with languorous days and late nights of drinking and laughter. But as a hurricane approaches the island, turmoil builds, forcing each woman to re-evaluate everything she’s known about the others—and herself.
I hadn’t read any of Sarah Pekkanen’s books before and enjoyed THE BEST OF US so much that I will be looking up her earlier works. As soon as I opened the book I was immediately drawn to each of the women, although it took me a while to warm to Pauline, and I lost respect for Savannah for a while. Then I realised – this is what it was like with my own friends. A really good friend will both annoy the heck out of you and love you unconditionally. You squabble then make up and can tell each other everything. Although the story focussed on the women, their husbands played an important part in driving the plot forward. Mostly the poor husbands didn’t know what was going on, and that is true to life too – sometimes you can tell your best friend what you are unable to tell your husband. Or you keep it bottles up from everyone and the first time the poor man knows that something is wrong is because his wife has snapped. This is SO true to life. Each of the women has a secret that motivates her to do something out of the ordinary – then put them all in an enclosed space with husbands who have no idea what’s going on, best friends who have no idea what is going on, lots of alcohol and opportunities for play and things are bound to come to a head. In the end not only a physical storm, Hurricane Betty, hits the island but also in the shelter many emotional storms also come to a head – can both types of storms be survived? The climax is gripping!
I felt bad for Pauline, she was on the outer edge of the group, and the others treated her badly. She wasn’t part of the original college group – her husband had been – so she didn’t have that history, but there was no need to ignore her, and exclude her from the conversation. She had invited them for her husband and she went to so much trouble for everyone’s needs to be met and yet her own were overlooked. Each of the women told the story from her point-of-view, which worked well as the reader got to know the secret that motivated each woman which you may not have got otherwise. A very clever move that. There were twists and turns and a few surprises – not all of them nice. A couple of liaisons shocked me but that could just me the prude in me coming out.
Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it.
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With thanks to Simon & Schuster and the author via Netgalley.