When We Were Friends was previously published under the title, A Serpentine Affair. Don't, as I did, buy a copy of both, expecting them to be different!
When We Were Friends focuses on the lives of university friends, Camilla, Juliette, Renee, Sissy, Natasha and Siobhan. Every year, they hold a reunion, although this year, as they head to their picnic in Hyde Park in London, each of the women is secretly wondering why they have agreed to meet. As the drink flows, they all become more vocal about their reservations, and a terrible accident befalls one of the women. In the aftermath of the accident, secrets and lies are uncovered that have a profound effect on their lives. Will they be able to remain friends?
As a character driven novel, it is important that Seskis develops the characters in When We Were Friends sufficiently to enable them to carry a relatively simple plot. Although the number of characters, particularly those involved in the sub-plots makes this difficult towards the beginning of the book, as the plot progresses, the level of insight the reader is given into each character increases. This is achieved through the various sub-plots, several of which take the reader back to the 1980s, when the main characters first met as students at university. We learn, for example, that Juliette embarked on a quest to find her birth mother after being brought up by adoptive parents, and that Renee was the victim of a rape whilst on a summer job in America. This enables Seskis to explore a range of sensitive issues, and creates a sense of intrigue which keeps the reader involved in the plot, although at times I felt these issues could have been explored in more depth, as many of the stories only come to light as the novel reaches its conclusion.
When We Were Friends is a novel with many twists and turns. These create tension between the characters, particularly as secrets are revealed, which keeps the reader turning pages. However, I found some of these twists to be a little predictable, which left me feeling slightly underwhelmed.
Overall, I enjoyed When We Were Friends, as it was easy to read, and for the most part, intriguing. However, I felt that although the characters and the different strands of the plot offered potential, this was often not realised to the extent I would have liked.
When We Were Friends is available from Amazon.