⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Now and Then Friends can be summed up in one word: BRILLIANT!! Book 2 in the Hartley-by-The-Sea series, it has become my favorite book thus far in 2016. It’s the first book this year to make me cry intermittently, and one in which I was sincerely disappointed to see end. I have loved all of Kate Hewitt’s books, but she really outdid herself with this one. All of the characters, main and secondary, were so well developed and beautifully flawed with such admirable, redeeming qualities, that I was majorly interested in each of their stories.
In it we find two women, Rachel Campell and Claire West, best friends in primary school but who after four years drifted apart when Claire, the shy but financially privileged one, seemingly abandoned Rachel for the “in” crowd of girls that embraced her. It’s about 16 years later and Rachel stumbles upon Claire in her parent’s house, which Rachel cleans, presenting a very awkward reunion between the two. Claire has been living and working in Portugal with her now ex-fiancé, Hugh, but has returned to her childhood home in Hartley-by-The-Sea to reclaim her life and start over on her own terms, without everyone else’s interference as to what’s the best course for her to take. Rachel’s dreams of procuring a University education dissolved after a mere two weeks when her mother had an accident while on a cleaning job rendering her bedridden, and relegating Rachel to the tasks of caring for her, the cleaning business and her two younger sisters since her father took off shortly after their mum became incapacitated. These are the predicaments of the two women when they come face to face after 16 years. What ensues after that is stubborn pride, resentments, and misunderstandings that initially hinder a proper reconciliation. However, as circumstances in life cause both women to converge and grow, there’s the hope that with some compromise everyone involved can see a brighter future.
The vivid setting, superb depth of characters, deeply emotional dialogue, complex relationships and wry humor kept me planted to my seat in eager expectation of each pursuant chapter. There are so many astonishing moments to relive in my mind’s eye that this book will have a lasting favorable impact on me for many days, weeks or even months to come. I await Book 3 in the series with eager anticipation.
Thank you Penguin Random House for a free copy of this amazing book in exchange for an honest review which I have given.