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Find out what Mumsnetters thought of Joanna Trollope's new novel, City of Friends

(28 Posts)
SorchaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 21-Feb-17 16:09:49

We gave away 30 copies of City of Friends, the latest offering from bestselling author Joanna Trollope. Find out more about the book and the author now.

The day Stacey Grant loses her job feels like the last day of her life. For who was she if not a City high-flyer, Senior Partner at one of the top private equity firms in London?

As Stacey starts to reconcile her old life with the new – one without the office buzz or meetings, but instead, long days at home with her dog and ailing mother – she's glad to have 'the girls', her best friends from university, to fall back on. But without the distraction of work, a betrayal emerges that threatens to shake the four women's friendship to its core.

We ask all winners to share their thoughts about the book on this discussion thread. Everyone who gives detailed feedback on City of Friends by midday Wednesday 12 April will be entered into a prize draw to win a £100 Love2shop voucher:

This giveaway is sponsored by Macmillan

Book giveaways T&Cs apply

impostersyndrome Tue 21-Feb-17 21:11:59

Entered. I do hope I win a copy. I really enjoyed her previous web chat.

2tfrutti Wed 22-Feb-17 15:24:06

Ooh yes please! I love her books but don't have anyone to chat about them with .......

chasingmytail4 Fri 24-Feb-17 21:44:58

Love Joanna Trollope books so fingers crossed.

ProseccoandPizza Sun 26-Feb-17 10:24:10

Ooh this is on my Amazon wish list. Would love to win.

CoffeeCoffeeAndLotsOfIt Sun 26-Feb-17 21:40:55

Entered.

When I have time to read I do like Joanna Trollope

henbane Thu 09-Mar-17 18:48:00

I received my copy a couple of days ago, thank you. As I am at home with my feet up because of some sort of muscle strain I am doing a lot of reading and have finished it already, the same day I started it - by which you will gather that it is both easy to read and hard to put down.

It is the story of four high-achieving women friends all of whom undergo some sort of personal crisis over the course of the book. Never having reached these sort of heights job-wise (think Nicola Horlick), I can't comment on the depiction of their lifestyles! but the situations were believable, and the characters sympathetically portrayed and - up to a point - likeable (I know that shouldn't matter but it does tend to influence how much I enjoy a book).

I did note that the Lesbian member of the quartet was the academic whereas the other three worked in the city, which perhaps reflects the perceived prejudices of the financial services industry!

I have read several of Joanna Trollope's books and they are always worth reading. I think of her as writing typically about rural lifestyles so it was interesting to see what she made of a more febrile city environment.

impostersyndrome Thu 09-Mar-17 21:34:51

Ooh did you know it was coming? I asked for one as soon as I heard of the offer, but I haven't heard back.

debwh142 Tue 14-Mar-17 21:38:22

Loved it - the characters drew you into their lives and families and it was an easy read - it ended all too soon, probaby depicted jobs none of us have but still believable and it was more about the relationships between the characters and their family life
Would recommend this book - great for an easy read on holiday

Mick15 Wed 15-Mar-17 09:05:18

I really enjoyed the characters in this book and the situations resonated strongly. A great synopsis of different types of female friendships. It's nice to read about slightly older women who are further down life's journey and the implications that brings. This gives more complex characters to engage with- and I liked the writing style of naming each chapter after a character. I think this book is particularly timely as diversity in the workplace is still a huge issue (being a woman in senior management in FS I agree with Gaby's observations) and this book keeps those issues front of mind. All in all a great read!

SorchaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 15-Mar-17 09:52:06

Hi impostersyndrome - 450 people applied for this giveaway and 30 winners were picked at random and notified. It seems you weren't one of the lucky ones this time, but best of luck for the next giveaway you enter!

impostersyndrome Wed 15-Mar-17 19:34:46

Hi poster SorchaMumsnet thanks anyway!

FawnDrench Thu 16-Mar-17 13:12:06

Thanks for the copy of the book, which I've just finished reading.
I read it over 3 evenings this week.
'City of Friends" was my first Joanna Trollope.

Alas I don't think I feel quite as enthusiastic about this book as some of the other reviewers on here.

I really liked the look of the book with its very attractive covers, both front and back, and I hoped the 4 doors would open and lead to an intriguing and satisfying unveiling of what was behind them in the guise of the 4 main characters.
But I didn't feel this happened.

Yes, it was easy to read, involved the inter-twining work and personal lives and loves of 4 long term friends, but didn't really have the "wow" factor for me.
I thought the writing was excellent descriptively, but in the first two thirds of the book, not as good on the emotional impact that life events and personal relationships were having on the 4 main characters.
The book definitely improved on this in the last third of the story.
I don't know if this was because I had spent 250 pages increasingly irritated by the fact that I didn't know the actual name of Stacey's mother!
This lady was constantly referred to as "Mum" whereas all the other supplementary characters had real-life names.
When her name was finally revealed I couldn't help wondering why it had been held back for so long, even though the name itself was used as part of a development for one of the characters - but it wasn't that significant fgs.

Also, I wanted the 4 friends to get together about half way through and bloody well sort out the little tiresome but far-reaching irritations and misunderstandings they had with each other, but this never happened - would have been too predictable I suppose.

I definitely found that I enjoyed the book more the further on I read.
I particularly liked the last few chapters and the way it ended, and was relieved that everything wasn't just resolved and sewn up delightfully, as so often happens.

To summarise, I was possibly hoping for a bit more cloak and dagger, but ended up with cardigan and knitting needles.

Nevertheless I will persevere with another of Joanna Trollope's titles and will possibly find I've misjudged her.

jammy388 Sun 19-Mar-17 16:47:11

Like the previous poster I found I got more into the story in the last third of the book, and also found it easy to read throughout.
When I started off I found it a bit difficult to remember which friend was which, and overall I felt the plot was driven more by issues (the experiences of women at work and the impossibility of really having it all -fulfilling work and family life - rather than by the characters, so I didn't find it completely satisfying. Also in the earlier part of the book I found it irritating when the dialogue finished before we got to what felt like the vital part of the conversation so I had to guess what was actually said.
I was sorry that the 4 friends didn't manage to get together all at once during the course of the book but this was perhaps a realistic reflection of their busy lives.
A thought-provoking read but not one that swept me away.

hobbska Sun 19-Mar-17 19:16:11

Thank you for my book! It's not something I would normally pick up to read and to be honest, after I had finished it, I wouldn't rush to buy another book by this author. There isn't really anything wrong with it, it just didn't float my boat. I didn't feel a connection with any of the characters and it wasn't exciting enough for me. I thought there would be more of a climax towards the end but it just kind of ended! Sorry to be negative

pixieindisguise Mon 20-Mar-17 21:11:16

Contains spoilers

Thank you for my free copy, I finished reading it last night. I would give it 2 stars out of 5 (1 star being reserved for books that are so bad that I just can't finish them). As for spoilers, I feel like that is a bit of an over exaggeration, let's just say details instead.

The synopsis of the book leads you to think that there is going to be some mystery or deep dark secret to uncover - 'a betrayal emerges that threatens to shake the four women's friendship to its core'. I read and read and read, waiting for the drama to unfold but it never happened. Even after finishing it, I still don't know what that sentence is relating to. Is it the betrayal of Melissa recommending Steve for the promotion? It can't be, because that was just Melissa doing her job. Is it relating to Melissa's son's father's wife being employed by Gaby? That isn't a betrayal. Gaby didn't even know when she employed her that there was a connection and when she did find out, she kept it from Melissa. HOWEVER, this man is just the father of her son - a one night stand. I wish I knew what this betrayal was that shook the women's friendship to their core - when I came here to write the review and I re-read the synopsis, I actually considered whether I had missed out a few chapters.

I was really disappointed. I felt that the characters weren't developed at all. For a book that claims to be about 4 close friends, I can't believe that they never once all got together, they seemed to just randomly choose one of the group when they needed a chat. They didn't seem very good to each other either, I have no idea how they have managed to stay friends for so long.

I just kept turning the pages waiting for something to happen. Unfortunately it was just chapter after chapter of descriptions of the lives of 4 women, who live for work.

This leads me to the one positive thing that I can say about this book. As a mum to 2 children under 6, and working full time, I appreciated the underlying feminist message. This book questions why women feel so guilty about going to work and having careers but men don't - a subject that is quite close to my heart at the moment. It's a really important message in this day and age, but I just wish this book had portrayed it in a more positive light. Gaby, the working mum of 3, who openly puts work before family, is not the kind of woman that I aspire to be at all. She had a pretty bad relationship with her daughters. I wish there had been a character that showed that you can, actually, have it all - a career and a happy home life. In fact I wasn't really drawn to any of the characters in the book, I didn't like any of them particularly.

This book did make me think though and it highlighted some important thought-provoking issues, but it won't leave a lasting impression on me.

musicalprof Fri 24-Mar-17 21:04:23

Pre-children, I read & enjoyed a lot of Joanna Trollope's novels & so was really pleased to receive a copy of this one as part of the giveaway. As with the other novels I have read, this book uses the different voices of the characters to tell the story from different viewpoints; this is an aspect of Joanna Trollope's writing that I have always enjoyed but in this particular novel I didn't feel that it was used to such good effect, as the four characters stories only really crossed in the briefest of ways.

Like jammy388, I did initially get confused between the four friends (I put it down to my old age...), but once I had happily figured them out, I couldn't really understand why they felt betrayed by the actions of their friends who, in my opinion, were generally only acting in their professional capacities. It was almost as if an entirely emotional reaction was to be expected; is that how women behave in their professional lives?

The character I could relate to most was Stacey, mainly as my own elderly mother's health & care is such a huge part of my own life now. I felt that this aspect of the book was thoughtfully dealt with.

But there were aspects in the telling of the friends different stories that left me more than a little confused; for instance, was I the only one to be a little confused by Stacey's comment to Sarah that Melissa had "lost her head for a while" regarding Will? I even went back & reread some chapters to see if I had missed something.

On the whole, it was an easy read but I felt it lacked the one strong central storyline that would bind the lives of the characters together & which has been prominent in other books I have read by Joanna Trollope. I would personally recommend other books by her as a first read.

Rajie Sat 25-Mar-17 16:23:38

Yes please. I do hope I win. X

barricade Sun 02-Apr-17 01:43:28

Many thanks to Mumsnet / Macmillan for a copy of 'City Of Friends' by Joanna Trollope.

The book follows four women who have been friends since their time at University and are now high-flying successes in the business world and in their respective careers. The book is structured as a round robin of 4 x 5 chapters, each seen from the viewpoint of one of the four women - Stacey, Melissa, Gaby and Beth (although continuing to be written in the 3rd person). The story opens at the point where one of the women, Stacey, is made redundant from her job. We then follow inter-twining events as the four friends experience many upheavals and complications in their lives. On Melissa’s recommendation, Stacey follows up on the option of accepting a job at Gaby’s company. Unfortunately, this is without consulting Gaby first. And Gaby cannot make the post available to Stacy because she had already hired another woman beforehand. A very competent employee who also happens to be married to the father of Melissa’s teenage son. But this has been kept secret from Melissa. And if the waters aren’t distorted enough, it was Beth’s partner, a professional headhunter, who recruited her. Meanwhile, Beth is facing problems of her own - an acrimonious divorce looming with the said partner.

The book is intriguingly presented, with a slick & modern contemporary cover design. The narrative is very well constructed, which should be expected of a book written by a well-established author with a range of very popular books in her back catalogue. The story is clearly very pro-feminist. The only problem is that the characters begin to feel like they are more just a set of feminist issues. This is used by the author to bust the myth embraced by the new generation of younger educated women that they can have it all.

If you enjoy reading books on domestic dramas, and are simultaneously avid fans of soap-operas and TV shows like the BBC 90’s offering “This Life”, then ‘City Of Friends’ is for you.

CordeliaScott Thu 06-Apr-17 14:03:11

Thank you Mumsnet for the copy of this book.

I liked the appearance of the book and this was the first Joanna Trollope novel that I have read.

Whilst the book was very easy to read I did not relate to or find any of the characters particularly likable. The description on the inside front cover seemed quite misleading as it meant I kept waiting for something more to happen, rather than the petty disagreements over what seemed to me to be very minor issues. I found this quite irritating as the arguments were so minor you just wanted to shake the characters and tell them to grow up.

Whilst I do agree, that like the characters in the book found, it is very difficult to have it all I did find that at times the novel appeared to pander to unhelpful stereotypes of women. I may read another novel by Joanna Trollope but I may choose the story a little more carefully.

burwellmum Thu 06-Apr-17 19:41:56

I was grateful for my copy and I agree with others that it looks very attractive. I have never actually read one of her novels before although I have listened to a couple being read. It was an easy read. I too found the characters confusing to begin with - perhaps listening to it would be easier as the narrator would give the characters different voices. Even less happened than in the other books of hers I have heard and my main response was wanting to give them all a good shake - probably not a very Mumsnet reaction!

Nena1 Fri 07-Apr-17 17:32:28

I was interested to read this book as I have previously read books by the same author but couldn't remember them.

The front cover is attractive and makes it appealing to attract the reader to buy.

I was intrigued by the storyline and was looking forward to reading it.

I did read the book in a few days as I wanted to know what happened next to the characters. I am the same watching television. I have to have a few episodes to watch.

I found it a little confusing a few chapters in with all different characters names and trying to remember who was who and their role etc.

I did find the book appealed to me as an older reader who look relate to some of the issues with friends and work situation. It was refreshing to read about someone who put her career first instead of her children and to read the glass ceiling.

I actually work for a firm of mothers who started their own business so could relate to some aspects of the book.

It was well written about Stacey's Mother and the heart wrenching decision to put her into care. I could relate with my elderly father's situation.

I disagree about the 4 friends never meeting to thrash things out. I have friendships where we never all get be at the same place at the same time due to illness, childcare etc.
I felt that this book was written from a real life situation and based on such. To have them all meet and thrash things out would be too easy and too neat.

I liked the different friendship dynamics and how they each spoke about different things to different friends. Again I find this true of my friendships.

I do agree the plot was a but thin, was looking for something more exciting in the secret that would affect their friendships.

But I would say a good holiday read and I think something older women will be able to relate to. Whether regarding friendships, work, business or family life.

cather Sun 09-Apr-17 22:06:20

Thank you for my copy of City of Friends

This is the first Joanna Trollope book I have read and I found it a bit steady going and it lacked substance. I took a while to remember the characters, probably because the book wasn't gripping enough. Having said that it was easy to read and once I got into it I could associate with the characters especially Stacey.

StickChildNumberTwo Sun 09-Apr-17 22:34:12

I hadn't read any Joanna Trollope for years and so was pleased to receive a copy. I took it on holiday, and finished it over the week (fast reading for me at the moment). I think a holiday was the right setting for it - it didn't take a lot of effort to read and was enjoyable enough.

I liked the way it used the perspectives of the four characters to tell the story, but like others I found that confusing to start with - I kept losing track of who was who and who'd done what without telling who. It pretty much all made sense in the end. I liked that their lives weren't left in a place where everything was sorted and happy; there was obviously still a lot of living left to do.

It did all feel like a world far away from the one I inhabit, with the designer clothes readily discarded and clearly very high salaries. Some of the issues were ones which would be similar across all social groups (Stacey's decisions about how to care for her mother in particular), but if it was supposed to be an exploration of whether women can have it all it missed the realities of questions like 'can I afford to go back to work after maternity leave given the cost of childcare?', and it can't be all that many women who on being made redundant can afford to start a charity with no means of generating any income.

Overall I found it an enjoyable holiday read, but it's not convinced me I need to go back and read any others of Trollope's books.

Celama Tue 11-Apr-17 20:29:18

This was my first Joanna Trollope as I've always felt that she appealed more to my mothers generation but I found it an enjoyable, easy read and made me rethink my assumptions as the characters weren't much older than me! I didn't have any trouble distinguishing which character was which and found the first two thirds of the book dealt with each character in depth and built up a background for each which let you understand and relate to them.

However - like previous posters, I'm a bit nonplussed about this "betrayal" at the centre of the book - I can only assume it relates to Sarah's employment - but it's hardly a despicable action. After having had each character built up, I found the last third of the book rushed and I also agree with previous readers that statements in the book left me feeling as if I'd missed lots out and just did not make sense to what I had read and interpreted. Either the book was culled dramatically to shorten it or there is a lot of detail in Joanna's head that never made it onto paper. This really spoilt it for me as it didn't feel finished but I'm going to read more of Joanna's works to see if it's just me.

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