Review

With Friends Like These

by Sally Koslow

The New York real estate market can be brutal, so college friends Talia and Chloe are skeptical when they answer an ad for an apartment rental that sounds too good to be true. Quincy, fresh off a bad breakup with her cheating boyfriend, wants to find roommates for the four-bedroom apartment they used to share. The three women, all in their late 20s, hit it off immediately, and when the brash, wannabe-actress Jules arrives, it seems that they were destined to be roommates and friends forever. Much like love, though, the course of true friendship rarely runs smoothly. More than a decade later, things like boyfriends, husbands, children and jobs enter the picture, clouding and complicating their allegiances.

"What appears on the surface to be yet another entry in the seemingly endless chick-lit lexicon actually probes beneath the surface to ponder the issues..." 

Quincy and her hedge-fund husband, Jake, are house-hunting in the hopes of creating a true home for themselves. After suffering two miscarriages, Quincy is starting to doubt whether or not she’ll ever become a mother. Finding and fixing up a new apartment will be just the thing to brighten her mood. Through her broker, she is privy to the insider real estate tip of a lifetime and innocently mentions the rare find of an apartment to her friend, Jules, whose boyfriend Arthur happens to live in the same apartment building. Jules, in turn, mentions this to Arthur, who goes after the apartment with a vengeance.

Talia spends her days toiling at a job that she is supposed to be sharing with Chloe. But harried Chloe is hiring and training a new nanny and has extended her leave, knowing Talia is there to pick up the slack. She’s also there to pick up the messages from one of the city’s top headhunters --- messages she neglects to pass on to Chloe --- and she decides to go for the job herself. Why should Chloe get all the breaks? You…are equally talented --- maybe more talented --- and need a better job ten times as much as Chloe does, Talia rationalizes to herself. Does this sound like the behavior of good friends who have known each other for over 10 years? Or is this a classic case of “frenemies”?

Sally Koslow, author of LITTLE PINK SLIPS and THE LATE, LAMENTED MOLLY MARX, examines the intricate and complex tableaux that is female friendship in her latest novel. What appears on the surface to be yet another entry in the seemingly endless chick-lit lexicon actually probes beneath the surface to ponder the issues that arise when a woman has to juggle friendships, boyfriends, husbands, children and work. Where does her true loyalty lie? To feel conflicted and stretched too thin seems to be the norm for today’s modern woman, but can you also admire a friend and be jealous --- perhaps even resentful --- of her at the same time? Koslow ruminates on these questions with a refreshing, and sometimes startling, honesty.

After 15 or so years of friendship, the women look back on their missteps and misdeeds: “They regretted their cavalier actions and assumptions, these women who’d been casually arrogant enough to assume that friendship could blast --- and last --- through anything” and finally learn that, in the end, “friends get over things.” What could have been just another story of four female friends, a la “Sex and the City,” turns out to be, in Koslow’s hands, an elevated, biting tale of human foibles.

Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on January 24, 2011

With Friends Like These
by Sally Koslow

  • Publication Date: August 23, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0345506235
  • ISBN-13: 9780345506238