Saturday, 28 July 2012
Such Good Friends
Author: Lois Gould
Year of publication: 1970
Inner cover blurb: 'We were at least as happily married as anybody else, which maybe wasn't very, but it was all anybody could reasonably expect. All I could, anyway...
But now Julie Messinger, age 31, mother of two, is going through the kind of hell that may destroy her marriage, if not her life. It starts when her husband Richard enters a hospital for a simple operation, which turns into a medical disaster that may cause his death. While her fate, as well as his, hangs suspended in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit, she is compelled to unlock all the doors behind which the unthinkable truths about her husband, her friends and herself have been carefully hidden.
Suddenly Julie and the people she thought she knew best begin to betray themselves in way that shock them all, and for reasons none of them can explain. The whole intricate fabric of their familiar world - loyalties, love, sex - is torn apart and rewoven in a strange and frightening new pattern. Each is shattered by this one catastrophic experience, but only Julie is so changed by it that she will never again live by the same rules, or in the same way.
This intensely revealing portrait of a dramatic marital crisis, through which people discover their unknown selves, could only have been written by a woman. Yet perhaps no other woman writer, and certainly no man, has ever created a heroine with so acute a sense of her own sexual feelings and attitudes, so unclouded a vision of the feminine psyche in search of fulfilment.
Such Good Friends compels both startled laughter and the pain of recognition. At once erotic and anti-erotic, tough and heartrending, it is a book whose plot never detracts from its haunting statement about human behaviour. Its strength lies in revealing what people do to each other in the name of friendship; how some use even love and death as masks or weapons; and how they may survive, scarred, yet in a way more whole than before.'
Quick flick reveals: Like the blurb, the book seems to go on a bit without really telling you much. Has the tone of an American Bridget Jones on seventies prescription drugs. What's not to like?
Random paragraph: 'Normally, I'm a fantastic shopper; I operate on a kind of radar which I must have developed as a reaction to all those years of suffering in clothes, or hiding under them. Now that I was a perfect size 9 and could walk around impersonating a pretty girl, dressing was a sacred privilege, something entrusted to me. Girls who have cried into their mirrors are never really sure what will happen if they smile now. Won't the mirror send you right back to your old self? You tremble in ecstatic stage fright every time you enter the try-on room with the curtain that doesn't quite close. Don't be silly, you are pretty, see? Oh, but that isn't me!