Sunday, 22 August 2010

More Than Friends - Barbara Delinsky

The Popes and the Maxwells are more than next-door neighbors: Annie Pope and Teke Maxwell were college roommates; Sam Pope and J.D. Maxwell are old friends and law partners. But in a matter of moments, the two families are torn apart by tragedy. Sam and Teke are spotted in an act of spontaneous – and unprecedented – lovemaking by 13-year-old Michael Maxwell, who dashes out of the house and runs into a passing pickup truck. The accident leaves the boy in a coma. 

J.D. copes by trying to get somebody sued or arrested, preferably the driver of the truck, who turns out to be Teke’s childhood sweetheart. When Sam’s indiscretion comes to light, Annie can hardly bear to be around him. As the days pass and the families rally around Michael, they are also forced to treat their own injuries and find a way to heal.

Initially I thought that the premise of this story was a bit flimsy and unbelievable - the husband from one family spontaneously has an affair with a wife from another - but as I progressed with the book I got sucked into the lives and emotions of the characters and found myself understanding their actions and feelings. Delinsky really has a skill with making you believe in her stories and characters, even here in one of her earlier novels. She seems to be making the cross-over from romance to "family isssue" orientated books with this novel, and although there are a few cheesy romance lines here and there and a couple of cliched sex scenes, she focuses a lot more on the ramifications of an affair on two families and how everyone copes with it. It was interesting to see how some people came out better because of the affair, whereas others changed their wholes lives and had to adapt accordingly. Having read one of Delinsky's more recent novels - The Family Tree - I can see how she made the progression from this, her first "issue" book, to the more literary, women's fiction style novels that she's writing today. Although I didn't totally believe in the premise to begin with, and found some of the more romance-y sections of the book cheesy, I did thoroughly enjoy this book, and would say that's it's probably my third favourite of her novels - with The Family Tree coming in first place and The Woman Next Door in second. 8/10

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