Re-Read: Bookends

Bookends by Jane Green

Goodreads Summary:
Catherine Warner and Simon Nelson are best friends: total opposites, always together, and both unlucky in love. Cath is scatterbrained, messy, and–since she had her heart broken a few years back–emotionally closed off. Si is impossibly tidy, bitchy, and desperate for a man of his own. They live in London’s West Hampstead along with their lifelong friends, Josh and Lucy, who are happily married with a devil-spawn child and a terrifying Swedish nanny, Ingrid.

All’s well (sort of) until the sudden arrival of a college friend–the stunningly beautiful Portia, who’s known for breaking hearts. Though they’ve grown up and grown apart from Portia, the four friends welcome her back into the fold. But does Portia have a hidden agenda or is she merely looking to reconnect with old friends? Her reappearance soon unleashes a rollicking series of events that tests the foursome’s friendships to the limit and leaves them wondering if a happy ending is in store.

Fortunately, Cath has plenty to take her mind off Portia’s schemes–like her gutsy decision to leave her job in advertising to fulfill her dream of opening a bookstore. And then there’s James, the sexy real-estate agent who keeps dropping by even after the bookstore deal is done. With his irresistible smile and boyish charm could he be the one to melt Cath’s heart? 

What I Remember:
I know I’ve read this book multiple times, beginning probably in the early 2000s. I love the story of two friends opening a book shop together. Isn’t that every book nerd’s dream? This book is one I returned to again and again when I just needed something comfortable, familiar, and uplifting.

It’s a story of long time friends, who met in college and had a falling out with one member. Ten years later that lost friend comes back into their lives. She’s writing a TV show that the friends feel is based on their group dynamics and personal stories. There is a token gay best friend, and the main character is kind of a mess, but she finds romance. And of course, the bookstore!

My Original Rating:
Judging by how many times I’ve read this book (probably 4 including this read), I must have felt it was a 5 star book.

My Thoughts on the Book:
The beginning of the book dragged a little for me because I remembered a lot of the drama from the characters’ college days, but once the present day story got going, I was completely sucked in again. I love stories about groups of friends, and this book has wonderful, fairly well developed characters.

The writing is very conversational. It’s easy to read, and while I would classify it as chick lit, it’s not a completely light story. There are some heavy things that happen to these characters. I had forgotten about some of the minor plot lines, but it does get a little intense towards the end.

Cath, Si, and Josh are still very close friends 10 years after graduating from university. They’re all living in the outskirts (but not suburbs) of London, and still somewhat lamenting their falling out with Portia, the center of their college crew. When an acquaintance of Lucy, Josh’s wife, mentions her name and the fact that she’s writing the latest TV show, they cannot believe it. The show is based on their lives. They’re sure of it. Gradually, Portia re-enters their lives and major drama ensues. Some related to Portia, some not.

But my favorite aspect of this story is the bookstore, Bookends, that Cath and Lucy are starting together. I love sharing in their dream-turned-reality. Cath is a lovable mess who’s sworn off men after an awful, drawn out affair with a married man many years earlier. Lucy is a fantastic cook and ever the bubbly, optimistic, lovable sidekick. I want to befriend them both. Add Si, the cliche gay best friend to the mix, and the gang of “girls” is complete.

The men are more of minor characters. Josh is really just an avenue to Lucy. And then there’s James, the gorgeous real estate agent / painter love interest for Cath.

This story is just so fun and crazy. I love it!

My Re-Read Rating: 5 stars

My Thoughts on My Original Rating:
This book definitely held up. I loved it just as much as I always have. It’s a great story about friendship and love, and it’s full of drama. I guess my book tastes haven’t changed much in the last 10-15 years.

The Verdict:
I am so torn! Part of my goal of this challenge was to try and clear my shelves, but I still really enjoyed this book. I don’t see myself reading it again for a couple of years at least, but still… I think I’ll hold on to it for a while and then MAYBE use it for my Little Free Library project this summer.

This book was read as part of my 2016 re-read challenge.

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