I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Jo Baldwin’s The Good Friend today – a novel which I loved the sound of when I first read the blurb late last year.
Once upon a time they were best friends.
They were all friends.
So when Jenny moved to Australia to focus on her swimming career, she not only lost Kath, but her soulmate, Tom. It was for the best. Or so they said.
Now, eight years later, Jenny seeks out her childhood friend and heads to rural France where Kath has settled…
Set against the glorious backdrop of the Languedoc lavender fields, The Good Friend is a beautifully written psychological drama about love, lies and a dangerous obsession.
Because once the truth is revealed, there’s no going back…
Jenny is an interesting character, although not one that I particularly liked. Identified at a young age as having the potential to be a swimming champion, her life has largely been focussed on training, and not always willingly, with her father pushing her into it more than she pushed herself. When Jenny is 18, her father makes the decision to move them both to Australia, where she can focus purely on swimming, taking her away from her best friend, Kath, and boyfriend, Tom. Eight years later, Jenny visits Kath, and while they initially settle back into their friendship as though they haven’t spent eight years apart, Jenny soon begins to question both Kath’s behaviour and their friendship.
While I didn’t find Jenny to be a particularly likeable character, I did want to find out what was going on between Jenny and Kath, and from the very beginning there are questions raised as to Kath’s behaviour, both in their younger days as well as the time in which in the novel is set. The Good Friend is a novel that I just had to keep reading to understand the past of these two women as well as the impact it would have on them today.
While Jenny’s visit is intended to be a short stay while she decides if she wants to retire from competitive swimming, she ends up staying for longer than intended to help Kath and her husband set up their holiday gites and to welcome the first guests, and Jenny gets to know Kath’s friends and rural France. This novel is something of a love letter to the area, and I enjoyed reading about the Languedoc region and its surrounds. Baldwin has populated the novel with wonderfully eccentric characters, and I loved reading about the region, the people that inhabit it, and their traditions, particularly around wine-making.
Please don’t go into The Good Friend expecting a psychological thriller – this is very much the drama that it’s described as rather than a thriller, and I very much enjoyed it. I don’t want to go into the plot at all in this review, as I think that this is a novel best approached with as little prior knowledge as possible, but I had to keep reading to find out exactly how far the characters would go to get what they wanted, and to find out the extent of the manipulations that had got them to this point. Starting slowly, The Good Friend gradually picks up the pace as more secrets are revealed, and builds up a dramatic climax. Recommended.
The Good Friend is published on 21 February by Red Door Books. Many thanks to Anna at Red Door Books for the early copy and the opportunity to join the blog tour.
Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour: