Published by Kirk Parolles on 2 August 2013
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Source: My copy
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository
Seven old friends. One annual reunion. Countless feuds. How do friends stay friends for more than 25 years when there is so much to feel aggrieved about? Juliette and JoAnne have never got over one of them sleeping with the other's boyfriend. Sissy secretly blames someone for the death of her husband. Natasha knows one of them is having an affair with her partner. Siobhan annoys everyone. Katie is annoyed by everyone. Camilla desperately tries to keep the peace. So when their picnic in the park goes horribly wrong and one of them ends up in the Serpentine, who knows what really happened? And just what secrets from the past are about to unfold, changing everyone's lives forever?
After reading this novel the first thought that came to my mind was a quote from Hamlet: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. Only with A Serpentine Affair, something is rotten in Hyde Park!
The story follows seven university friends over a period of 25 years. Since graduating, they try to meet up once a year for a reunion. This year they are having a picnic in Hyde Park. Seven women arrive at the picnic, but only six will leave.
This is no happy reunion. Each woman seems to have a secret, and after a few too many bottles of white wine, the allegations and confessions fly. But could one of these secrets be enough to destroy a friendship of 25 years? And could it be a motive for murder?
I found this to be a compelling read. After the initial confusion (very short-lived) of who was who, I felt like I had to discover all their secrets. I felt like a voyeur on a reality television series – watching a train wreck unfold but not being able to look away. And Seskis sure knows how to deliver on the drama. Revelation follows revelation and you never quite know when it will stop.
But don’t expect to love the characters. They are awful (with a few exceptions of course). These are bitter, angry and resentful women with so much baggage they may as well own a Louis Vuitton store. Their marriages are mostly unhappy, with the exception of Camilla and probably Sissy, though she has her fair share of tragedy.
I see this novel as an examination of strained relationships. How our connection (or lack thereof) to other people define us. While outwardly successful, these women fail in their roles as wives, mothers, daughters and friends.
The story is told from various points of view and can be a little difficult to follow at first, but you soon learn to compartmentalize each individual character (I found myself imagining my own university friends, although thankfully, none of them are as malicious and damaged as these women yet!). One criticism is that all the different voices sometimes confuse the story (especially in part 3 where extremely peripheral characters narrate a chapter each).
Overall a very entertaining read that appealed to the drama queen in me, and clearly illustrates the old adage: with friends like these, who needs enemies!
– An affair to remember