Saturday, 10 January 2009
Friday Nights by Joanna Trollope
Black Swan €10.79
DULL isn’t usually a Joanna Trollope word. But she’s struck a less true note than usual with this story of an elderly woman who brings her lonely neighbours together for a weekly salon.
Eleanor sees widowed Lindsay and single mother Paula stravaging along the streets with their respective children, Noah and Toby, and invites them in, and their meetings grow into a circle as they bring in others.
Soon her flat is flocking with DJs and artists and businesspeople. Then Paula brings in a new boyfriend, the wealthy but manipulative Jackson. Bad move. Jackson wreaks havoc through the group, flirting and offering investment and bringing Paula’s son to cheer at a Chelsea match.
Trollope, queen of the Aga sagas, doesn’t work so well in this foray into literary gloom, which lacks the happy-ever-after chirpiness that’s her main selling point.
Everyone does, by the way, get a happy ending. But not before you have to follow them through a mass of deep thinking as they ponder without cease.
The characters are all too cut-out, and once they’ve been carefully outlined with characteristics, their predictable behaviour colours them in by numbers.
Trollope is a country girl, and writes most happily about rural life. Here, she seems walled in by the city, out of sight of the green.