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When Good Friends Go Bad - Ellie Campbell

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Genre: Author: Ellie Campbell / Paperback / 400 Pages / Book is published 2009-07-30 by Arrow Books Ltd

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    4 Reviews
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      11.01.2010 12:08
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      What an excellent book. Make the time to read this!

      I read this book by chance, as it was delivered with my order by accident. I'm so glad I did!
      The book is based around friendship, as the title suggests, and begins in school, where Georgina, Rowen, Jen and Meg are all best friends, and completely inseparable. While Georgina is very posh, and a bit of a snob, Meg is very natural and hippy like and Rowen is quiet and thoughtful, they get along brilliantly. They go through the usual troubles of teenagers, and get much closer along the way.

      Twelve years after leaving school, they attend a reunion at a restaurant, to see how their lives have progressed. It goes well, with the women easily slipping back into their friendship, until Georgina's husband turns up to pick her up. Jen clearly recognizes him, and storms out of the restaurant, causing Georgina much confusion and anxiety. Meg spots a friend she knows, too, and after some outrageous behaviour,disappears to a nightclub, leaving Georgina, and the friendship, in tatters.

      The book fast forwards to 2008, when Meg tries to plan another reunion. She's flown back to Britain due to getting ill, and needs her former friends help to track down Rowen, who made her a promise in childhood. The three pull together to help Meg, but the friendship isn't easy going now, and Jen and Georgina especially have a huge rivalry that they struggle to deal with. Meg is also very infuriating, being hard to pin down, and very unreliable.

      As they search, the characters are examined more closely, and their real motives become clear. They begin to have to face up to their problems, which causes more problems for the friendship...and they find their loyalty tested beyond measure, for a friendship that is well past its best before date.

      The book is written excellently. The characters are well formed, and have so many dimensions. Their lives have taken such different forms, and all are well described. Its the perfect description of how friendships, and the people involved in them, grow and change in such huge measures.

      This is an addictive book, and I've passed it around my friends who've all loved it around. It's a truly amazing book, from the amazing writing to the brilliant characters. Amazing!

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        07.01.2010 23:01
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        How well do we really know our friends?

        Review of "When Good Friends Go Bad", a novel by Ellie Campbell

        I am reviewing the paperback version of the novel.
        The genre of this novel is modern fiction, it was published by Arrow Books Ltd., ISBN 0099519992, 474 pages, jacket price £6.99.

        ~~The Plot~~

        Four friends first meet in 1980, when they start at the comprehensive secondary school in Ashport-on-Sea, a Sussex seaside town.

        The four are, Jen who is the only child of a single father, Nutmeg (or Meg) the child of an American hippy couple, Rowan, a pretty Welsh girl who lives with her rather strange single mother and Georgina, a plump, cosseted girl from a well to do background.
        The four girls form a firm friendship and stick together through the trials and tribulations of puberty and growing up, the trauma of trying to fit in to a rough and ready school and facing up to the bullies and unpleasant characters who also attend their school.
        As they mature and reach the age of leaving school, their lives take different paths and the plot then follows the lives of Jen, Meg and Georgina in a vague fashion until 1998, when at the request of Rowan, they are brought together for a reunion.

        The three meet up at the arranged restaurant at the correct time, on the correct date, but Rowan doesn't show up. The three have an interesting evening catching up with each others news and lives, but the reunion ends on a sour note, due to the arrival of Georgina's husband which causes a severe shock for Jen, and Meg's outrageous behaviour and her subsequent defection to a nightclub with the guest of another diner.
        The plot then speeds forward to 2008 and Meg contacts her friends again, asking them if they can help her to trace Rowan. Meg flies into Britain and she seems desperate, she hints that she has an illness and that she needs Rowan to fulfil a promise made when they were teenagers. The three begin to try to track down Rowan. The passage of time has not been smooth and the previous decade has brought it's fair share of ups and downs to the three women. All have had their problems and Jen and Georgina have an uneasy rivalry to cope with as they are thrown together once more. Meg is still an enigma, never giving a straight answer and her easy come, easy go nature infuriates the other two women.

        As the plot progresses, doubts as to the true intentions of some of the characters begin to emerge. Nothing is quite as it at first appears and each character in turn has the finger of suspicion pointed at them. While all this is going on, Rowan is still untraceable and the search continues, but none of them can begin to imagine the extent to which their loyalties and principles will be tested when their past finally catches up with them.
        If you want to know what has happened to the errant Rowan you'll need to read the novel, no spoilers here!

        ~~About the Author~~

        **Ellie Campbell is the pseudonym for sisters Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell. The sisters live in England and America yet still manage to write together. Between them they have had over 140 short stories published in magazines internationally as Pam Burks and Chris Grant (Lorraine).
        Pam now lives in Surrey with her husband and three children where she divides her time between writing, family, a part-time job and chasing up her writing partner and big sister, Lorraine.
        After leaving her publishing job for a life of adventure, Lorraine spent many happy years travelling the world, she lived for three years in France and then sailed the Caribbean as a charter cook. She finally settled in Colorado with a husband, three horses and a dog.
        The sisters began writing together after Pam took a creative writing course and Lorraine would give her opinions on Pam's work, they decided to team up in order to write together. They say that having another person to brainstorm and discuss ideas with helps them to be creative.
        Their début novel, published in 2008 was titled "How to Survive Your Sisters".

        **My source for the above information was the sister's website www.elliecampbellbooks.com

        ~~Availability and Cost~~

        The copy I read is a library book. The novel can be sourced in High Street bookshops or online.
        A quick web search gave me the following information:-

        www.amazon.co.uk £5.49
        www.snazel.com £4.54
        www.alltopbooks.com £5.95
        www.waterstones.com £6.29

        ~~My Thoughts and Conclusion~~

        I enjoyed this book, I thought it was well written and offered a lot more than the usual run of the mill modern women's fiction novel. The characters are very well rounded and whilst they were not always likeable, I felt that I cared about the central characters. The plot is written in a retrospective way, which holds your interest and makes you want to know the final outcome.

        I found the prologue touching, the authors have described the feelings of an 11 year old girl on entering a new school, so convincingly, that I could almost remember what it felt like over 35 years ago to start at secondary school!
        If you like a novel with a few surprises, twists to the storyline and a little more substance than the usual 'chick lit' type novel offers, When Good Friends Go Bad might be worth a read.

        Thank you for reading.
        ©brittle1906 January 2010.

        N.B. My reviews may be found on other review sites under the same user name.

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          22.11.2009 07:51
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          Worth persevering with

          A famous designer, a cleanliness-obsessed stay at home mum and a slightly kooky Yank who talks to angels might not be three people you'd pick to be friends in a normal story, but these women haven't met now, as pushing-40 year olds with these character traits and career histories already in place. No, they were good friends, great friends even, all through high school, and though life has evidently taken then in different directions, you can understand how something like surviving their teen years together would form an everlasting bond. Except it didn't, really. They've barely talked in years, and even the reunion organised ten years ago went wrong. So how is it that they've ended up back in each others' lives? What's happened? Why now?

          I finished this book thinking it was a great read, but that wasn't what I thought I'd be telling you when I started it. The first few chapters confused me no end, as the characters were introduced individually now, ten years ago, and in their school days. It was pretty hard to keep track of who was who, what they were doing, and whether it would be important to the story to come. Happily this settled down quite quickly, the jumping stopped, and we started to get the story from mainly just one of the characters' perspectives. They others pop in now and then to say hi, but they don't dominate the narration. Though I got there in the end, I think this is one I'll want to re-read now I've got my head around who's who and what they do, as I'm sure it'll be much simpler the second time through.

          The interesting thing about the book for me was the age of the main characters. At 38, they're older than most heroines, but they're realistically portrayed for their age, some with children, others clearly immersed in their careers. So many chick lit novels are about finding Mr Right, or unexpectedly ending up pregnant or alone (or both) and you never really get to find out what happens to the characters in ten, twenty, thirty years time. This one is different, taking place a bit further down the line, and gave an original perspective. It was quirky and intriguing, and kept me interested throughout.

          The contrasting characters was one of the best bits of the book for me, and is something others have raved about in the author's previous novel. Or should that be authors': the book is actually written by two sisters, using the pseudonym on the cover, but I think it's a credit to them and their writing that at no point does it ever appear to be one of those patched together 'co-written' set-ups.

          The book mixes in all the key ingredients for a gripping read: love and lust are angling for room with an unsolved mystery, lots of juicy secrets (old and new) and a nice bit of suspense and surprise towards the end. A few things are predictable, a few things less so, but throughout it is a well told story that never gets old, boring or annoying.

          This is a prime example of good, solid chick-lit. It's not the most amazing book on the market, but it is a very good read, and at nearly 500 pages will keep your attention on the beach (or sofa) for a decent length of time.


          This review originally appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk

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            28.08.2009 18:05
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            Fab story.

            When Good Friends Go Bad is writing duo Ellie Campbell's (Lorraine Campbell & Pam Burks) second book. Meg, Jen, Georgina and Rowan were inseparable friends until a childhood prank tore them apart.

            Ten years later Rowan calls for her friends to meet her for dinner but she doesn't show up. Not only that but Meg behaves embarrassingly, Georgina's secret comes out and Jen decides she's finally had enough.

            Twelve more years go by and Meg manages to convince both Jen & Georgina to help find Rowan...


            When Good Friends Go Bad was an outstanding book. I absolutely loved the plot and found it quite unique. The best thing for me was the writing, although it was written by two people you would never know the writing was seamless and flowed easily. Not only that but it was incredibly well written and Pam & Lorraine managed to keep all of the plots up in the air with relative ease.

            Of the four friends I liked Jennifer best. Most of the chapters were about her and I thought she was a fabulous character. I found Georgina a bit snobby but ultimately I thought she was a genuinely nice person. Even though Meg did a lot of bad things, I found that I also liked her, too. Rowan, while mentioned, is not featured in the book at all until the last quarter of the book and it made her quite a mysterious character. Who was this person the friends were trying to track down and why on Earth did she seem to fall off the radar?

            I quite liked Georgina's husband Aiden until the last quarter of the book, too. I really thought he had changed but when it all came out he was just a rat through and through. Once a cheater, always a cheater! Jennifer's best friend Helen was a great friend throughout the book even though Jen puts her off about going places and Helen feels her nose is out of joint once Jen gets back into her friendship with Georgina and Meg. I loved Ollie, Jen's (ex) husband. Meg's son was rarely mentioned but who his father was was always there in the background. I figured it out just before it was revealed and wasn't too shocked!

            The plot really takes off once the three friends get hold of something solid about Rowan. From then on it's one huge rollercoaster of a ride which had me rushing to finish the book. I also loved all the means the friends used to try and track Rowan down, going to her old hometown, going to a reunion at their old school, until eventually all of their hard work paid off. Rowan's story completely shocked me and it took me a few minutes to register exactly who it was that had made Rowan the way she was. That was a really good curveball from Pam & Lorraine! Really came out of nowhere, too.

            When Good Friends Go Bad really was a fabulous novel and I wholly recommend you read it. It deals with a lot of things which really does test the friendship of the four and even though it's almost 500 pages, I found myself flying through the book!

            Rating: 5/5

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