Cocktails For Three – Book Review

…by Sophie Kinsella (writing as Madeleine Wickham)

This is a story of 3 British women who are close friends. For years they have maintained the tradition of meeting at a cocktail bar on the first of every month. This bar has strengthened their friendship and given them lot of memories to cherish.

They lead happy lives till an outsider by the name of Heather comes into their lives. She enters their lives at a time when each of them is at the brink of personal crisis.

This is the story of sweet Candice, rash Roxanne and intelligent Maggie. Candice is the ‘baby’ of the lot. She is cute and generous to the extent of being fooled easily. She harbours a pest from the past. To get over her age old guilt, she invites Heather into her life with open, welcoming hands. She showers her with all the help and love she can so that she can make good what her father spoilt years ago. Heather appears friendly on the surface. Maybe, too friendly. Soon, Candice is dealing with her self-obsessed ex-boyfriend, a crooked flatmate, lots of dilemmas and above all, the dangerous distance that is developing between her and her close friends.

Roxanne is in love with an older man whom she refers to as Mr. Married with Kids. Her two best friends do not know who he is. The affair that has been lasting since 6 years doesn’t seem to be coming to a decent conclusion. Still, she is willing to live with it. But one fine day, her lover ends it all. She is devastated. And she has no one to talk to. After all, she managed to lose both her friends too.

Maggie is the editor of a magazine. She is used to being in power and being busy. But in a month’s time, she would be delivering her baby. She and her husband have moved to their palatial house in the country. After her maternity leave begins, she only as the silence of the big house, large grassy fields and anxiety of handling a baby to accompany her. Roxanne and Candice seem to be moving on with their lives without her. And once the baby comes, she is at a complete loss of control. Despite working hard and spending sleepless nights, she is unable to handle her baby well and for that, she feels pathetic about herself. Her decreasing self-esteem isn’t helped much by her mother-in-law. And there is no one who can understand her.

Three closest of friends and yet so lonely.

But bad times are never to stay forever, ain’t it? Lost friends are won back. Lost trust is regained. Loves are lost but new loves are won.

It is a beautifully written story of women you can relate to. They face the same issues that we face in our lives. This book taught me two lessons. One, do not condemn yourself for who you are not. Accept and love who you are. A successful, working woman like Maggie, for example, cannot be expected to become a perfect mother from day one. Accept the fact that you cannot be good at everything. Second, keep your friends close in times of need. When you have good friends, you never have to feel lonely.

I did not enjoy some of Madeleine Wickham books but this one is a winner for me. It is an easy, engrossing, thoughtful read. I had difficulty parting with this book. I dared to leave all my work pending for the sake of this book. In fact, I would read it again some day!

My rating: 4

The Gatecrasher

Written by none other than my favourite author, Sophie Kinsella, The Gatecrasher is a light, involving tale of ‘the gatecrasher’ and the people she involves herself with. Written in Sophie Kinsella’s usual style, I found this book to be a can’t-put-down. The magic of SK’s books are such that even as the plot thickens slowly, the description of characters, surroundings and situations is so delightful that the reader has no time to get bored.

Beautiful, ageless Fleur is the gatecrasher. No one knows her age or where she comes from; whether she is a divorcee or widow. All they know is that you succumb to her charm without knowing it. Fleur’s profession? Gate crashing into funerals / memorial services and charming rich, heartbroken, lonely, grieving fresh widowers, winning their trust and enjoying life with their money before taking off to the next nest. Not for Fleur, but Richard Favour and his family’s life changes when Fleur enters their life with the impious intentions not known to them. Richard, mourning over a wife he barely ‘knew’, is a rich and a good human. Disposition, past, secrets, intentions and dreams of each character are revealed as the story moves ahead, not only surprising the reader, but also sucking him into the Favour family’s life. While the Favour family is savouring the changes happening within and around them, Fleur is getting more desperate to extort money or move out to a better option.

Villains are thrown out. Old painful shackles are broken. Walls are brought down. People are changed – all by Fleur’s magic. Secrets are revealed, including Fleur’s. Does she do to Richard what she did to the haughty, rough, Greek Saki? Does Richard discover her dark past and cruel intentions? Does Fleur change? What are her secrets?

The brilliance of Sophie Kinsella’s writing lies in the simplicity. Simple words woven beautifully into melodious sentences. Her simple stories involve the reader without coming across as casual, half hearted or boring. SK has the ability to etch humour into sentences with great ease (like the Shopaholic series) and does equally good at sentimental, touchy stuff (like, Remember Me?).

I was disappointed that I had finished all of Sophie Kinsella’s novels. I am glad I caught hold of The Gatecrasher. Madeline Wickham is equally charming!

I would give this book a generous rating of 3 / 5.