The Friends We Keep by Jane Green

The Friends We Keep by Jane Green

Published June 4, 2019 – Berkley

Book provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Description: Evvie, Maggie, and Topher have known one another since college. Their friendship was something they swore would last forever. Now years have passed, the friends have drifted apart, and they never found the lives they wanted—the lives they dreamed of when they were young and everything seemed possible. 

Evvie starved herself to become a supermodel but derailed her career by sleeping with a married man. 

Maggie married Ben, the boy she fell in love with in college, never imagining the heartbreak his drinking would cause. 

Topher became a successful actor, but the shame of a childhood secret shut him off from real intimacy. 

By their thirtieth reunion, these old friends have lost touch with one another and with the people they dreamed of becoming. Together again, they have a second chance at happiness…until a dark secret is revealed that changes everything. 

The Friends We Keep is about how despite disappointments we’ve had or mistakes we’ve made, it’s never too late to find a place to call home. (publisher)

My take:  Evvie, Maggie and Topher meet when they are first year university students. They become fast friends not knowing they are forming the relationships that will last the rest of their lives. As with similar friendships, life causes ebbs and flows that take the three on individual journeys but they find their way back to each other a few times over the decades. A thirty year school reunion brings them back one more time and the three friends decide it’s time to make a change. Can it possibly be as good as they imagine?

Jane Green tells her story in three parts: The Beginning (1986); The In-Between Years (1990s); and Present Day (2019). It all adds up to what I call a good beach read. Meaning it has compelling characters, a juicy plot (featuring betrayal and over-the-top drama), and a story that keeps me turning the pages. Kind of like the soap my dorm mates and I would watch when we were in college. Recommended to fans of the author and novels about friendship, growth, and forgiveness.


About the author:

A former journalist in the UK and a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York, Jane Green has written many novels (including Jemima J, The Beach House, Falling, and, most recently, The Sunshine Sisters), most of which have been New York Times bestsellers, and one cookbook, Good Taste. Her novels are published in more than twenty-five languages, and she has over ten million books ini print worldwide. She lives with her husband and a small army of children and animals.


 

The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

  • Title:  The Sunshine Sisters
  • Author:  Jane Green
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  June 2017 – Berkley Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.

As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother’s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London—and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.

But now the Sunshine Sisters are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy have never been close, their mother’s illness draws them together to confront the old jealousies and secret fears that have threatened to tear these sisters apart. As they face the loss of their mother, they will discover if blood might be thicker than water after all… (publisher)

My take:  Jane Green’s newest novel is about a family of women: A narcissistic mother in failing health and her three grown daughters who want nothing to do with her or each other.  She sees a chance to change things by bringing her girls together before she dies.

Nell, Meredith and Lizzy know something is up when their mother requests they come home immediately. It’s not a problem for Nell who lives nearby but Meredith lives and works in London and Lizzy is incredibly busy with her pop-up restaurant venture in New York. They drop everything and head home to see what’s going on. The sisters will soon discover things about themselves, their mother and each other.

I liked this novel for its good intentions. It touches on a few serious topics while managing to keep a fairly light tone. But a few things seemed a bit pat – most notably with one daughter’s life going in an unexpected direction almost overnight. I didn’t have a problem with that direction, just how fast it happened. That issue aside, I recommend The Sunshine Sisters as a light read for fans of domestic fiction and Jane Green.


 

Good Taste by Jane Green

good-taste-by-jane-green

  • Title:  Good Taste: Simple, Delicious Recipes for Family and Friends
  • Author:  Jane Green
  • Genre:  Cookbook
  • Pages:  192
  • Published:  October 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher

Description: A lush and gorgeous guide to all things food and entertaining from Jane Green, New York Times bestselling author of Jemima J, The Beach House, and Falling.
 
Jane Green’s life has always revolved around her kitchen…

… from inviting over friends for an impromptu brunch; to wowing guests with delicious new recipes; to making sure her ever-on-the-move family makes time to sit down together. For Jane, food is enjoyable because of the people surrounding it and the pleasures of hosting and nourishing those she cares about, body and soul.

Now, Jane opens wide the doors of her stunning home to share tips on entertaining, ideas for making any gathering a cozy yet classy affair, and some of her favorite dishes, ranging from tempting hors d’oeuvres like Sweet Corn and Chili Soup, to mouthwatering one-pot mains like Slow-Braised Onion Chicken, to sinfully satisfying desserts like Warm Chocolate and Banana Cake.

This book is Jane’s perfect recipe for making a wonderful life complete with friends, loving family, and moments filled with good food, good times, and, of course, Good Taste. (publisher)

My take: At first glance Good Taste has a rather unassuming cover – until you take a closer look at the photo which shows the author readying a dining table for an outdoor meal. It looks quite inviting and lovely.

And that’s exactly how I felt about the cookbook – welcomed by author Jane Green to take a look at her favorite recipes and give them a try. She personalized each one with an anecdote about the family or friends a recipe bring to mind. I loved that.

The book is divided into Beginnings (starters and soups), Middles (main courses), and Endings (desserts). Gorgeous color photos accompany each recipe which is something I really appreciate. I’m not an accomplished cook by any stretch of the imagination so I like to have a clear goal in mind of what my finished product should look like 🙂

There are several recipes I can’t wait to try including: Tomato Tart Tatin; Slow-Braised Onion Chicken; and Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle. The photos of all three are gorgeous and what I really love is that after reading each recipe I feel confident I’ll be able to make them.

Good Taste would make a wonderful gift for the cook in your life this holiday season.

Falling by Jane Green

  • Falling (7:19)Title:  Falling
  • Author:  Jane Green
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  July 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  When Emma Montague left the strict confines of upper-crust British life for New York, she felt sure it would make her happy. Away from her parents and expectations, she felt liberated, throwing herself into Manhattan life replete with a high-paying job, a gorgeous apartment, and a string of successful boyfriends. But the cutthroat world of finance and relentless pursuit of more began to take its toll. This wasn’t the life she wanted either. 

On the move again, Emma settles in the picturesque waterfront town of Westport, Connecticut, a world apart from both England and Manhattan. It is here that she begins to confront what it is she really wants from her life. With no job, and knowing only one person in town, she channels her passion for creating beautiful spaces into remaking the dilapidated cottage she rents from Dominic, a local handyman who lives next door with his six-year-old son. 

Unlike any man Emma has ever known, Dominic is confident, grounded, and committed to being present for his son whose mother fled shortly after he was born. They become friends, and slowly much more, as Emma finds herself feeling at home in a way she never has before.

But just as they start to imagine a life together as a family, fate intervenes in the most shocking of ways. For the first time, Emma has to stay and fight for what she loves, for the truth she has discovered about herself, or risk losing it all. 

In a novel of changing seasons, shifting lives, and selfless love, a story unfolds—of one woman’s far-reaching journey to discover who she is truly meant to be…  (publisher)

My take:  Emma is really coming into her own as a thirty-something woman beginning a new career in a new town. She left a stressful job in banking in NYC and moved to Connecticut to pursue her love of interior design. It was fun to follow her progress, both emotional and professional. I also enjoyed her neighbor/landlord Dominic and his little boy Jesse. Dominic is so different from any man Emma has ever known but he’s so sincere and confident that she’s attracted to him.

Falling is about finding a life Emma didn’t even know she wanted. It’s about family, friendship, love – it’s about life.

I was completely engaged by the story until a major twist near the end. I wasn’t expecting it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it kind of took me out of the story. I’m always one who thinks it’s the author’s story to tell so I can’t really criticize a plot twist … perhaps there’s a sequel planned. It just seems to beg for a follow-up.

I think fans of the author and women’s fiction will like Falling. It’s the first book I’ve read by Jane Green and I will certainly read more of her books.

Interview with Jane Green, author of Summer Secrets – and a US Giveaway

summer secrets (6:25 spotlight:giveaway)

Interview provided by the publicist

SUMMER SECRETS is set partly in London and partly in Nantucket.  Why did you choose these settings? I can’t ever get too far from my London roots. It’s hard for me to write about it now, it has changed so much since I moved away fifteen years ago, but I grew up there, and I love that nostalgic jolt I get when I delve into my memories for my characters. And Nantucket is the most magical place on earth – if I could set every book there, I would. In SUMMER SECRETS, Cat confronts a secret in her family’s past. Was this plotline inspired by any personal experiences? My husband has a cousin who recently discovered, in his 50s, that the man he thought was his father wasn’t his father. Coincidentally, I have cousins who don’t know they are related to me — the result of an illicit affair one of my uncles had years ago. I am fascinated by the secrets people keep, and the impact those have on our lives. SUMMER SECRETS is your 17th book. All of your novels have been bestsellers. Once you hit the New York Times bestseller list, is there more pressure on you to continue to write books that hit the list? The pressure grows and grows…will you make the list, will you be higher than last time, is your career on the upswing or is this the moment it all comes crashing down and everyone realizes you’re actually a load of rubbish. I had tremendous, and instant, success with my early books, and later had a period when things were quieter. It was a humbling and valuable lesson. Now I tend to focus less on how well the book does, and more on creating the best possible book I can create. If I know I’ve done that, then I’m happy. How and when do you write? Please describe your writing routine, rituals, and traditions.   I write in the mornings, taking myself off to a small writer’s room in town where I sequester myself for three or four hours. I need frequent large cups of coffee and spare batteries for the huge noise-cancelling headphones I wear, listening to either classical or ambient music. I buy a new notebook dedicated to each new book Large, thin enough to slip into my computer case, the very first page always contains notes on the story, before moving on to characters. All my thoughts and notes go into the book, always in longhand, before being typed up on the computer. And it’s usually pink. Before you became a women’s fiction favorite, you were a journalist.  Do you miss the 9-5 routine? The only thing I miss is going to work every day with my best friends. I worked on the women’s desk of the Daily Express and we were such a tight knit group, going to work was actually my favorite part of the day. This summer you launched a Kickstarter campaign for an exclusive cookbook GOOD TASTE.  Please give us all the delicious details. On June 11, I announced plans to self-publish my first cookbook! I’m so excited! It will be supported directly by my fans via Kickstarter – the only place to buy the book ($25!) is through Kickstarter, until July 7th. http://kck.st/1B8BvGC. Drawing on stories from my life and the food that runs through these personal stories — from caring and cooking for a friend with breast cancer, to supporting my blended family with six kids and several animals, to my family’s recent move into an antique cottage on the water, the book is a combination of recipes, gorgeous photos and original writing.  And because I’m doing this cookbook through Kickstarter, it has my fingerprints on every inch. It feels as personal as it gets. I have loved the creative process and the freedom I have had to give my readers what feels like a piece of my heart. There will be a limited print-run and my fans can learn more and pre-order their copy by visiting http://kck.st/1B8BvGC, or my website. How and when did you learn to cook? Have you had any professional training? I learned in my mother’s kitchen, perched on a stool and helping out as she cooked, graduating to studying recipes as a teenager, and finally, a few years ago, doing the Part One of a professional chef’s training at the French Culinary Institute in New York. To go back to being a student again at this age, when I have children, and a whole other life, was an enormous privilege – it was exhilarating and huge fun. What are some of your favorite dishes to cook, those that you return to again and again? I’m a big fan of comfort food, so anything that can be slow-cooked in one pot is always going to be a win. I make braised lamb shanks and short ribs quite regularly, and an English Victorian breakfast dish called Kedgeree, which is curried rice, salmon and eggs, that we all adore. What have you read lately that you’ve loved? I was lucky enough to read I Take You by Eliza Kennedy as an advance copy, and it had me crying with laughter in a way I hadn’t since Bridget Jones’s Diary. Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin is another I was lucky enough to read early, and another I plan to revisit, savoring the stories of hoity toity women on the Upper East Side of New York. Any other books you are looking forward to reading this summer? Laura Dave is not only one of my favorite writers, but one of my favorite people. Her latest, Eight Hundred Grapes, is first on my list. Jamie Attenberg’s The Middlesteins was a wonderful, poignant book. So I can’t wait to dive into Saint Mazie. And what can I say? Who won’t be reading Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event this summer? What can you tell us about the next Jane Green novel? And how long will we have to wait for it? With any luck I’ll be finished in August of this year. It’s called The Hemlock Sisters (although that could change), and it’s about three estranged sisters who reunite when their mother announces she is ill.


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summer secrets (6:25 spotlight:giveaway)