A group of old friends wonder if they can pick up where they left off 40 years ago.
When Kat mails letters to her high school friends inviting them to pack up their lives and move to Fiji, she isn't sure what to expect. While Kat has lived in countless locales around the world, her friends Sina, Lisbeth, Ingrid, and Maya have lived more conventional lives back in their native Norway. Still, they are all in their late 60s, at the point where they are willing to jump at the chance to try something new. That isn't to say that the other women have had it easy—they have all dealt with more than their fair shares of anxiety regarding children and family life, financial woes, relationship troubles, and health concerns. Together, the women create a new future for themselves in Fiji, eventually converting Kat’s cocoa plantation into a fledgling chocolate business. Late in the novel, Lisbeth wonders, “Is it possible to become who you were before?” Indeed, this is the very question that lingers as each woman attempts to either reclaim or refashion her identity across the world in her later years. Will Sina cut ties with her manipulative son, Armand, and finally force him to grow up? Will Lisbeth be able to shake her insecurities? Will Kat find the solace and companionship she was looking for when she extended this intense invitation to her distant friends? While the novel does an adequate job delving into the inner workings of the characters, its ambitious scope and its relatively short length are at odds. While some of the friends are fully fleshed out, others fall flat. Interspersed with the friends’ perspectives are prayers from their housekeeper, Ateca, who worries about the women—often repeating details that have already been solidly established—and offers some back story on the Fijian natives.
Ostby's U.S. debut offers up delectable food, a lush location, and unwavering friendships.