Friends Like These
by Victoria Routledge, contemporary (1999)
Warner, 5.99, ISBN 0-7515-2712-2

Laura the Ms Sweet and Nice is getting married to Roving Eye (Among Other Things) Mike. Rachel is facing a midlife crisis at twenty-something of age. Her friend Alex is sleeping with Rachel's ex George (Alex's a woman, by the way). John's a man who can't score and hence acts obnoxious. Fin loves Rachel. Caroline's a bitch who is out to make everyone's life miserable.

Meet these people who are gathered at a Lake District cottage to celebrate Laura and Mike's engagement.

And I don't know if I should be scared: I actually know the words to the cheesy songs by now-obscure British music acts that Rachel obsessively collects (Human League, anyone?).

This book is mildly funny and not as wicked as I expected. I mean, Caroline really, really stirs up a hornet's nest with her boink-your-boyfriend free-for-all antics, but what fun is that when the lead characters just stand back, feel mad inside, but let her do what she wants nonetheless? They are no match at all to Caroline's really delicious wickedness.

Rachel and Alex are the worst - they may love old vinyls and LPs but they whine and whine and whine like a broken gramophone about what a nasty woman of dubious reputation that female dog Caroline is, but don't have the guts to fight back. At the end of the day, Rachel's a doormat and Alex's the matching doorknob.

It is only the end when Laura displays an almost psychotic Marry me or die streak (think Cameron Diaz's character in Very Bad Things), when everyone finally breaks down and start screaming at each other, that the book attains a semblence of wittiness it aspires for the last few hundred pages.

Alas, too late.

Rating: 43

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