Sunday, January 12, 2014

Thick And Thin by Sarah Harte

3.5 Star

What happens when your best friend becomes your worst enemy?

As students, Marianne Dillon and Clare McMahon become instant and unlikely friends. Marianne is spoilt, brazen and irreverent; Clare hardworking, modest and shy. But somehow they bring out the best in each other.

Marianne's generosity and Clare's steadfastness are the glue of a friendship that sees them through twenty-five years of love and loss, successes and disappointments, marriage and motherhood. The secret of their friendship, they believe, is that they are complete opposites.

But when a life-altering crisis hits their relationship – a crisis that involves their husbands, children and indeed the lives they have created – the crack that was there all along tears them apart.

Each must face catastrophe without the support of the best friend she would always turn to. Is it possible that a relationship that was so central to their lives was built on sand? And can they rescue something from the wreckage?

Rebecca - 3.5 Star

Sarah Harte can really write and this is an eloquently and subtly written study of a friendship that feels both heartfelt and intimate. Of the two lead characters I immediately felt an affinity with Clare who we follow from university through marriage, motherhood and her career as a GP but I found the more fiesty Marianne likeable too. Friendship stories can be schmaltzy sickly sweet affairs and the cover style of Thick and Thin led me to believe I was embarking on a book at the butter tart end of the scale but I was surprised at the grittiness contained within its pages. Rather than putting their friendship on some sort of pedestal Harte throws a whopper of an incendiary device at it and we watch the fallout. In the process she tackles some really difficult moral issues head on and I thought she handled this sensitively. 

That said, whilst I can respect the quality of the writing I wasn't mesmerised by Thick and Thin. I like it but it didn't dazzle me. Maybe it's that the demographic she's writing about (middle class university graduates with middle class problems) is one that is pretty familiar to me and so in themselves Clare and Marianne's lives weren't that intriguing. I wish I were able to rave about Thick and Thin, as it feels like it deserves higher praise, but as honesty is the name of the game, this one gets three and a half stars.

Thank you to Penguin Ireland for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

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