Old Friends concludes the series about the Yellow Brick Road gang, a group of women whose close friendship supports them as they search for spirituality and find men.
After a rather mawkishly sentimental start (to this British reviewer, at least), the story gets going. Claire is 43, a successful investment manager but someone who keeps men away following her experience of
abuse by her stepbrother when she was a child. When she runs into a man in the video shop, she thinks she has picked up a stalker. Michael is more than a man: he's in fact a being from another dimension, and he says he is there to help Claire through an important time in her life. The next day, she discovers her stepfather has died and left her some money, but also the responsibility of looking after her stepbrother's daughter who is also being abused. Claire finds her life turned completely upside down as she looks after her step-niece
Beth, gives up her job, and finds another significant event.
The romantic element here is actually subsidiary to Claire's learning to forgive her parents for their appalling treatment
during her childhood. There are some brief forays into discussions of spiritual issues in a rather indistinct and new-agey way, but the bulk of the story is about Claire changing her life and confronting her past. Her lover, Michael, doesn't actually feature in the book that much, a weakness in the story.
This is a reasonable read with important subject matter and an interesting take on the world, but it also
feels superficial in places, particularly regarding the relationship between Claire and Michael. I was surprised at Claire's step-niece's ability to cope with what life had thrown at her and to accept all Claire's help without too much difficulty.
The ending of the book returns to the mawkish sentimentality of the beginning with a very predictable 'big event' during a friend's wedding. However, it
is an easy enough read and has a little more to it than many other stories in this genre.