SHORT & SWEET REVIEW: A TIME FOR FRIENDS BY PATRICIA SCANLAN

Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet). 

A Time For Friends

I turned to A Time for Friends in need of a light read. I’ve read a couple of Patricia Scanlan’s books before and I enjoyed them. This one was no different – a pleasant, engaging read about friendship. Here’s the blurb:

When are the boundaries of friendship pushed too far, and when is it time to stop flying over oceans for someone who wouldn’t jump over a puddle for you? There comes a time when Hilary Hammond has to make that call.

Hilary and Colette O’Mahony have been friends since childhood, but when irrepressible Jonathan Harpur breezes into Hilary’s life and goes into business with her, Colette is not best pleased. After their first encounter Colette thinks he’s a ‘pushy upstart’ while he thinks she’s ‘a snobby little diva’. And so the battle lines are drawn and Hilary is bang in the middle. But as the years roll by and each of them is faced with difficult times and tough decisions, one thing is clear … to have a friend you must be a friend. And that’s when Hilary discovers that sometimes your best friend can be your greatest enemy.

Toxic friends can be hard to shake off – there’s the matter of loyalty, then there’s “being too nice” and of course, sometimes it’s hard to see the poison. Scanlan addresses this issue, one most women face at some point, with understanding, although it’s clear early on which friend is toxic and needs to go. The story begins with a prologue of “defining moments” that give some insight into why the characters behave the way they do, but making it clear that they make choices to let bad things destroy them or strengthen them. This is nicely done through a minor character, a counsellor with plenty of sage advice.

While the story is about friendship, Scanlan also uses it to counter Catholic views on homosexuality and gay marriage: “Love is love and that’s all that matters”. It also counters damaging Church teachings in relation to a child’s supposed part in child abuse: “He was an adult and I was a child and he abused me. How can you possibly think I had a part to play in that?” However, it’s not anti-Christianity – the author makes clear her beliefs at the end – but rather, open minded, accepting and loving. These aspects stood out the most for me. Overall, an enjoyable read that’s well-written and turned out to be perfect for a wet afternoon.

Available from good bookstores (RRP $29.99). My copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster.