Jennifer, Bridget and Tamara meet every Friday morning at nine. Itís their time to decompress with their girlfriends, to discuss their marriages and their discontentment with life. One Friday, they hit upon the topic of adultery, and each woman admits she currently has a temptation to stray outside of her marriage. They decide they owe it to themselves to explore these avenues and to determine their feelings regarding their own marriages.
Jennifer, a self-professed computer geek, canít stop thinking about David, the one that got away. Her college boyfriend, David broke up with her without explanation shortly before graduation. Jennifer thought they were going to get married and was devastated. She ultimately married the man she rebounded with and wonders now whether she made a mistake, especially when David contacts her again.
Bridget works part-time at a dentistís office to fill the time while her three children are in school. There she meets Dr. Luke, a handsome dentist who seems genuinely interested in her. They share a love of cooking and fine food, while Bridgetís husband and children only tolerate standard meat-and-potatoes fare at home. Tamara, on the other hand, rushed into marriage with her husband when she found out she was pregnant. Now their son is 19, and Tamaraís husband is constantly on the road. They barely have a relationship anymore. It doesnít hurt that Tamaraís new neighbor, Aaron, is easy on the eyes and really seems to enjoy spending time with her.
Friday Mornings at Nine is a somewhat disappointing look at three different women. While it has a lot of potential, these women arenít written endearingly enough to really capture the readerís attention. The subject of infidelity is a difficult one to present sympathetically, and Brant doesnít accomplish that trick. Each of these women seems selfish for exploring temptations rather than trying to face their problems with their husbands head-on. The premise is interesting but its execution is, unfortunately, flawed.
Itís also difficult to understand why Jennifer, Tamara and Bridget are friends. They constantly judge one another, which keeps them from sharing all of the details of their situations. Itís difficult to make a group of friends the centerpiece of a novel if they donít even like or trust one another enough to be honest.
Jennifer is probably the most sympathetic and easily relatable of the three women. Because her temptation is an ex-boyfriend, itís much easier to understand the attraction, as well as the question of what might have happened. It is, however, a bit difficult to understand her unhappiness with her husband, except for the fact that heís not David. Tamara, on the other hand, is the most despicable. While her unhappiness is understandable (her husband has basically abandoned her with his constant traveling), her personality is a turn-off.
Bridget is in the middle. We understand why sheís unhappy, and she is the most careful with her temptation. She knows what sheís risking and doesnít want to throw anything away. All three women have their separate stories, though not all are equally endearing. In a novel like this, itís overwhelmingly important that the reader care about the characters. That doesnít happen in this book.
Marilyn Brant showed great promise with According to Jane, but Friday Mornings at Nine is a disappointing follow-up. Hereís hoping that sheíll return to form in her next novel, which will definitely be on my to-be-read list.