After working on her career at a top London advertising agency for the best part of a decade, Cath yearns to leave and open her own bookshop. Lucy, married to Cath's old Uni buddy, Josh, longs to run a cafe. So when a suitable site comes up, the girls combine their dreams and Bookends is born. However, opening a trendy book caf (as opposed to cybercaf ) is a fairly minor sub-plot in Bookends. This is a novel about the lives, hopes and dreams of a group of thirtysomethings, living in West Hampstead, who (mostly) met at University and have moved on, for better or worse: Cath is disenchanted and has long-since stopped trying to (a) manage her Michael-Jackson-circa-1973 hair (b)wear anything other than black that she hasn't owned for more than five years, and (c) find a suitable beau. Luckily, Si--desperate to find the man of his dreams and an expert at applying haircare products and shopping at designer stores--makes a perfect best friend. Apart from improving her appearance, he's great for those awkward social occasions that, even in our postmodernist world, still require a male escort. Then, out of the blue, a former member of the old University gang turns up and, hey presto, things start to change. Beautiful, elegant, clever Portia appears to have it all; it takes a couple of hundred pages to discover what she's been looking for. The strange thing about Bookends is that Portia turns out to be merely a sub-plot.
Jane Green's latest novel is about the love and trust and enduring friendships of a bunch of young hopefuls whose lives take the usual twists and turns and ups and downs as they mature into thoughtful, rounded adults. Green is an author whose readers either love or hate her, If you love her, you'll want to read her fourth novel; if you don't, you might be surprised by Bookends. --Carey Green