A novel of old friendships, secrets and betrayals. Joni, Trina, Deb and Eden. Best friends since the first day of school. Best friends, they liked to say, forever. But now they are in their thirties and real life - husbands, children, work - has got in the way. So, resurrecting their annual trip away, Joni has an idea, something to help them reconnect. Each woman will write an anonymous letter, sharing with their friends the things that are really going on in their lives. But as the confessions come tumbling out, Joni starts to feel the certainty of their decades-long friendships slip from her fingers. Anger. Accusations. Desires. Deceit. And then she finds another letter. One that was never supposed to be read. A fifth letter. Containing a secret so big that its writer had tried to destroy it. And now Joni is starting to wonder, did she ever really know her friends at all?
I was intrigued by the concept of this novel - four friends decide to each write a letter revealing what they are really up to in their lives. They write the letters on a PC and print them, out so everyone has their anonymity protected. However the narrator of the novel finds another letter - the author of which had presumably decided against being read out and had tried to destroy the letter before anyone could read it.
The book begins in a confessional - the narrator Joni is not a current church goer but has decided she needs to confess. It began as an amusing aid to the story, but once the story began to be told I forgot Joni was in the confessional - in fact I was just wondering if the Priest had by now a large queue forming as I had been reading for quite some time. It turned out she had been in the confessional for 1.5 hours and there was luckily no queue - and so she began to relate the tale again. I don't feel there was a need for the confessional - she could have just been telling it to the reader, as every time the Priest made a comment, I had forgotten he was listening to all this and it took me a moment to realise whose voice it was.
I thought the characters were a little under developed and it would have been nice to have some more background before they all began to appear and relate to one another. Of course I suppose that would have kept the Priest well into the night at the confessional! I began to get confused among the four women as to who was who, let alone who their husbands were.
Once the letters began to be read the book got going a little more and there were some consequences as a result of the letters. There was then the extra twist as only Joni the narrator had read the fifth letter and she begins to piece together who wrote it. Queue the Priest again - really he must have been on overtime by now.
One of the scenes towards the end of the book I thought was quite hard hitting in the writing and took me aback. But apart from that and one of the scenes recalled from the letters, the writing was a little pedestrian I felt.
For me there was a bit of a twee outcome between two of the characters at the end of the book. I won't spoil it and say who they were, but I do think this added nothing to the novel, but just made me cringe somewhat.
I'm giving this book 3 out of 5 stars. My thanks go to Netgalley for an advance copy of the book to review.