The Art of Friendship…
About the Book:
We all expect our friendships from childhood to last forever…
Libby and Kit have been best friends ever since the day 11-year-old Kit bounded up to Libby’s bedroom window. They’ve seen each other through first kisses, bad break-ups and everything in-between. It’s almost 20 years since Libby moved to Sydney, but they’ve remained close, despite the distance and the different paths their lives have taken.
So when Libby announces she’s moving back to Melbourne, Kit is overjoyed. They’re best friends – practically family – so it doesn’t matter that she and Libby now have different…well, different everything, actually, or so it seems when they’re finally living in the same city again.
Or does it?
What an incredible novel this turned out to be! In Lisa Ireland’s latest, she examines the intricacies of friendship and asks the question: do lifelong friendships have a use by date? But friendship isn’t the only issue to come under the microscope. Lisa also takes a look at parenting, self-confidence, the lengths people will go to fit in with their chosen crowd, the tendency to unfairly judge others, relationships and domestic violence. It’s a smorgasbord of social issues but just like a puzzle, all of these pieces fit neatly together, forming a picture of contemporary Australian life that many will be able to relate to.
Libby and Kit have been friends since they were eleven. Now forty, they’ve spent the majority of the last twenty years navigating their friendship by distance. When the two finally live in the same city again, they’re initially thrilled, but very rapidly their friendship begins to stretch under the strain of differing views and lifestyles. Now, I’m just going to cut right to the heart of it here: I really did not like Libby. Not in the beginning, not in the middle, and not at the end. She was obsessed with perceived social status to the point of making herself sick. She was insufferably hovering over her son to the point of stifling him. Her low confidence in herself made her short-change her husband over and over. She was a wanna-be even though she didn’t even want to be. Judgemental people with a low self-esteem can be incredible toxic, and I saw shades of many people I have known throughout my life in Libby. Kit, on the other hand, I adored. Was this Lisa Ireland’s intention? Maybe, maybe not, but her skill as a writer was entirely on display as Libby repeatedly misjudged Kit. You didn’t have to like Libby to love this story. Through Libby’s toxic behaviour towards Kit, Lisa demonstrated the minefield that friendship can sometimes be. Kit reached a point where obligation began to outweigh affection, and what an interesting question this is. We can all probably cite an example of a friendship we’ve had that has been imbalanced. You’re the one who always calls or turns up, etc. At what point do we just pack it in and demote the friendship to an acquaintance?
As well as being thought provoking, this is a highly entertaining read. The ‘Arcadia-wives’ cracked me up with their superficiality. I really liked Kit’s blossoming relationship and her grand gesture towards the end. But what I really loved about this novel, what made it really perfect for me, was the reality check. Not everything pans out perfectly at the end, tied up with a neat bow. Some things are resolved, but others just continue as they are, much like life itself. Lisa shows us the importance of not taking things at face value. There is more to any person you meet beyond the facade they present to the world. Whether you want to wipe them or dig deeper is on you. The Art of Friendship is Lisa Ireland at the top of her game. It’s a smart and entertaining novel guided by a very big moral compass. Women of all ages will enjoy this story and I highly recommend it as a book club title. Perfect timing for Mother’s Day too!
Thanks is extended to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy The Art of Friendship for review.
About the Author:
Lisa Ireland lives on the Victorian coast with her husband and three sons. After working for many years as a primary school teacher, Lisa is a now a full-time writer. When she’s not writing, she can be found drinking coffee with friends or wandering along the beach with her extremely disobedient but totally loveable dog, Lulu.