Adams’ sensitive debut follows a tightknit quartet of college friends as they navigate their shifting relationships—and evolving identities—over the course of two decades.
After graduating from university in Bristol, Benedict, Eva, Sylvie, and Sylvie’s brother, Lucien (technically not a student but a group member nonetheless), are on the cusp of their futures. Eva, a quietly rebellious physics grad, is poised to start a fancy finance job in London. Benedict—posh, studious, and in love with her—is staying on for a Ph.D. Artistic and free-spirited, Sylvie is off to travel for a year with Lucien, a caddish playboy who has long monopolized Eva’s romantic attentions. The world seems alight with possibility; their bond feels unshakable. But as the years pass, and the disappointments of adulthood accumulate, the ties that once bound them begin to fray. Once, they hiked through Spain together; as they approach their 30s, they meet occasionally for distracted lunches and harried drinks. Their lives don’t look the way they’d imagined they would: despite her talent, Sylvie isn’t famous; despite their connection, Benedict and Eva haven’t ended up together. And then—one personal crisis at a time—the four friends find their ways back to each other, forging new relationships that are deeper and more complicated than the ones they’d had at school. Adams doesn’t stray far from convention here, but it hardly matters: her characters are nearly impossible not to root for, and she captures their often troubled dynamics with tremendous empathy and charming wit. And while the novel wraps up just a touch too neatly—the resolution isn’t quite as much fun as the struggle—there is something pleasantly satisfying about its profound sense of hope.
Breezy with substance; an absorbing summer read.