Marilyn Brant masterfully writes on the intricacy of female friendship in a carefully crafted, entertaining and yet philosophical look at love, marriage and family. In Friday Mornings At Nine, we’re dropped into an inner circle of three women who have spent years forging their bonds of trust — but still remain skeptical of opening their hearts too much. Who hasn’t felt that way? That our inner lives are something to be guarded, something to be protected, even with close friends?
That’s what struck me most about this novel: how well Brant understands the complexity of women. Being one herself, of course, our author gives us three ladies who, for better or worse, we get. While I didn’t always agree with Tamara’s behavior, I understood completely where she was coming from. And though mousy Jennifer occasionally annoyed me by not sticking up for herself, I knew why she wasn’t able to rip her no-good ex a new one.
Friday Mornings At Nine has a little something for all lovers of women’s fiction, including my favorite plot: the return of an old love. Of the three storylines, Jennifer’s was the most compelling for me. This is a woman who, after being unceremoniously dumped by a man she loved more than a decade ago, still wonders what happened. Still harbors hurt feelings and misconceptions, all because she never got that mystical thing called “closure.” Though my situation isn’t just like hers, I felt very similarly as recently as last winter — in desperate need to let go of my first love but unable to figure out exactly what went wrong. I eagerly anticipated Jennifer’s chapters and wondered endlessly about what she would choose.
Brant’s dialogue is what really propels us forward here, too. Never one to “tell” rather than “show,” she lets most of her characters do the talking — literally. From the aloof husbands to the nagging children to the random Halloween partygoers, everyone in the novel was brought to life through consistently well-written conversations. I felt like I could hear the cadence of their speech without any modifiers, and that’s a mark of a great book for me.
Fans of women’s fiction shouldn’t miss this novel full of wonderful insights into our friendship and family, people and topics always at the forefront of our minds. I was so pleased with the way this one turned out and highly recommend it and Brant’s debut novel, According To Jane.