BOOK CLUB: The Art of Friendship

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Author: Lisa Ireland
ISBN: 9781760552268
RRP: $29.99
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

The Art of Friendship is a book that I’m sure all of us can relate to. A book that will resonate and touch everyone who reads it.

Lisa Ireland is an Australian author of contemporary women’s fiction whom I only discovered when The Shape of Us was released last year. I devoured The Art of Friendship in a couple of days and really enjoyed it, then life got in the way and the review sat here waiting for a quiet minute.

The friends we make as children can be some of the closest bonds we share, you see each other through so many of life’s hurdles that come with growing up and you feel like these are going to be the friendships that last a lifetime. For a range of reasons that isn’t always the case. Sometimes there’s a fight, or families move and distance becomes an issue, sometimes there’s a feud and sometimes it’s a slow drift, you don’t notice the chasm widening until you can’t see each other over the other side. It’s a natural progression with life but that doesn’t always make it easy to deal with.

In the lead up to reading The Art of Friendship I saw and heard quite a bit about the inspiration for the story. There’s a note from Lisa to readers on the media release, it’s posted on her blog and has been published other places online.

Friendship is an extremely important part of life, I want to say for us as wives and mothers but it’s not just that. It’s important for all of us because a close and supportive friendship, even better a group friends, makes for a great support network. You don’t have to agree on everything, you don’t have to have everything in common but you have to know that someone will always have your back. In the new world of social media, cyber bullying and shaming (I’m going to generalise because there’s always someone being shamed for something) it’s really easy to start feeling alone.

The friendships we make when we are young feel like they will last forever; if you can make it through your teens together you can weather any friendship storm, but it doesn’t always work like that.

Lisa Ireland takes a look at these lifelong friendships with Kit and Libby, they met as 11 year olds when Libby moved in across the road from Kit. The two girls couldn’t be more different, from their outlooks to their family situations. Libby was able to make a friend and have someone to spend the holidays with before starting at her new school. It meant she didn’t walk into her new school knowing no-one and she had a friend in her class.

The end of primary school cemented their friendship and it was able to withstand the pressure of separate high schools and moves to different suburbs. They were able to keep in constant contact through letters and phone calls before moving onto emails and skype as technology improved. Libby moved to Sydney young and the two have remained the best of friends, spending time together every year and keeping up to date on what’s happening. Their lives have taken very different directions but their friendship has remained strong.

A new job for Libby’s husband offers the opportunity for them to return to Melbourne and both Kit and Libby are overjoyed. They will finally be able to catch up for coffee whenever and make up for the years they’ve lived so far apart. It doesn’t matter that their lives have taken very different paths, they are practically family.

The Art of Friendship is a book that explores the ways in which we protect our friendships over long distances, we are able to share an edited image of our lives, we can gloss over the scratches and ignore the dents. It’s not that easy to paper over the cracks when you are in close proximity and spending a lot of time together. It’s a story that makes us look at our friendships and evaluate why some stand test the time and why others sometimes fade by the wayside.

I think one of the most fundamental, and important, differences between Libby and Kit is that Kit was never fazed what anyone thought but Libby wanted approval, she wanted to be liked. As differences go that one is pretty major and it is certainly breeding ground for animosity.

Libby and Kit are our protagonists and they are surrounded by a substantial cast. Cam, Libby’s husband, has won a position that sees him move the family into a gated community as a perk of the job. The house is stunning, fully furnished and decorated, and all of the company executives spend a lot of time together. The exec wives seem nothing like what Libby or Kit is used to which opens up a lot of superficial judgement.

Lisa Ireland has beautifully navigated the minefield that can be friendship, the challenges and the areas that become hotly contested.

The emotions are palpable and even though I wasn’t a fan of some of these women I ended being able to relate on some level at some point to each of them. Libby and Kit are the main focus so in a lot of ways we see the other women through their eyes, even though the story is written in the third person. It isn’t until Libby starts to get to know them properly that we see more than the image they portray to the world.

Heartbreaking, real and tricky situations are tackled by Ireland in The Art of Friendship and we start to see that it’s not always who has been your friend the longest but who really sees you, and for a friendship to stand the test sometimes it needs to adapt to the changes in the friends. What we need from our friends at fifteen is very different to what we need at forty-five, the battles in which we need them to have our back are going to be very different and the secrets we need them to keep will be worlds away from those we kept as teens.

There’s a lot to be said about keeping the friends we had as children; they remember the daggy hair cuts, the first kisses, the heartbreak and the family dynamics. At the same time, the friends we make as adults can only formulate their opinions on who we are now; they don’t have the memories of questionable decisions and the mistakes we’d prefer to forget.

Ireland reminds us that sometimes our friendships last and sometimes they fade away, sometimes they go out with a bang and sometimes they change so that the shared histories survive and the friendship remains precious but the priority changes with new stages of life. All of our true friendships are important and should be cherished because with big changes in our lives we see our friendships a little more clearly.

I would wholeheartedly recommend The Art of Friendship to every woman. It’s an important read, an insightful look at friendship and a reminder that holding onto negativity is going to come back and bite you eventually.

The Art of Friendship is book #22 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018.

Lisa Ireland can be found on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

The Art of Friendship is published by Pan Macmillan and is available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading The Art of Friendship so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below. I can not wait to hear what our readers think.

10 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Art of Friendship

  1. While I thoroughly enjoyed Lisa Ireland’s, The Art of Friendship and would recommend it, somehow it didn’t rise to the greatness I expected – really good but not brilliant – this is probably my fault rather than the book’s. I just expected greatness from the way the book started and probably expected more than was reasonable.
    I loved the theme and the way the story evolved, meeting different characters along the way. I particularly liked the way Kit stayed true to herself regardless of the outcome or situation. I actually wonder if Kit and Libby would have been best friends if they hadn’t met as they did when they were so young. Libby’s lack of warmth from her Mum would have had an incredible impact on her which would last all through her life. I’m pleased there was actually a reason for the distant love and inability to show warmth even though I’m sure her Mum really loved her. This is explained well towards the end of the book.
    The emotional abuse issue with Alli was brought into the book and handled brilliantly as were other social issues.
    All in all, it is a book I would recommend for women – I can’t imagine too many men who’d think it was wonderful but that’s not an issue for me. I’m sure there’s much that any woman will relate to and with. Friendships started early in life have the ability to be special and lasting but only if two people grow in similar ways and/or are prepared to accept the other person as the individual she becomes. I really liked the way Libby and Kit were able to grow as adults and see their friendship in different ways but still respect and love the other person. It wasn’t overdone and hence felt “real.”
    Thank you so much, Beauty and Lace and Macmillan for the opportunity to “discover” Lisa Ireland. It is wonderful knowing there are so many incredible Australian women authors.

  2. I am absolutely so thankful that this book came into my life. It was an amazing read and I had to stop myself from staying up all night to read it. I felt like I was along for the journey with Kit and Libby. I’m sure many of us have had a hard time adjusting to childhood friendships evolving into adult ones. I was able to relate to this book and the authors words, which made it more enjoyable. The book was written beautifully. The way Libby’s parenting effects her son, the way she latched onto Kits mum in order to feel that love she wanted so bad. Reminds me of one of my own childhood friendships. Despite the book seeming slow at first once I got into the swing of it I was hanging off every word:

  3. Thank you for the opportunity to read The Art of Friendship by Lisa Ireland.

    I really wanted to get something out of it in relation to handling friendships, especially those we have had for a long time.

    The book is about Libby, her husband and son moving interstate which takes them back close to her friend from childhood Kit. The move itself involves many changes for the family with changes in status, working and school. Kit is still single with her same ideals since childhood.

    This makes for some interesting times. I was a little under awed by Libby’s new friends at the start and felt it was a bit Housewives Of… I didn’t think I would learn too much from the book or have anything in common with the people. This changed part way through the book and people I thought I had pegged ended up being quite different and not so one dimensional. I like how the friendships changed and didn’t always go the way I though they would. I’d say this applied to Libby’s family and thoughts on their interactions. This can be how it goes in real life.

    Libby and Kit hid some of their feelings over time which caused problems, and maybe changed their relationship in the long run. There were some serious issues in some of the relationships which were dealt with well and realistically. Not everything is as black and white as it seems.

    This book did make me think, not in all the ways I thought it would, so I enjoyed the change and where it took me.

  4. Thank you to Beauty and Lace for allowing me to review ‘The Art of Friendship’ by Lisa Ireland. It was the first time I had read a book by Lisa.

    Its a story of a lifelong friendship between Libby, a wife, mother, stay at home mum and married to wealth and then there is Kit, single, no children and lives a simpler life to that of Libby. They met at 11 years of age when Libby’s family moved from the country to the city and they became neighbours and instant best friends. Libby eventually marries and moves to Sydney to live while Kit stays in Melbourne (with Kit having a stint living overseas in there as well).

    When Libby’s husband gets a job, which is situated in Melbourne, it should be the best thing ever for Libby and Kit, they can finally be back together in the same town and catch up properly rather than texts, emails and phone calls and the odd visit.

    But what they really discover is the true test to their friendship and whether it really is as strong as they imagined it to be, are they growing apart or is it just another adjustment in their lifelong friendship?

    Kit and Libby truly go through many ups and downs throughout the book as their lives go on, they struggle, they unite, the fight and they love, they are not just best friends but more like sisters. Can a lifetime friendship really stand the test of time?

    I found it to be a really nice and easy read with a nice ending, but the storyline is quite predictable. It is however a book I would highly recommend. It has some home truths, funny moments as well as sad times but a truly wonderful read.

  5. An interesting read on the subject of relationship between friends.

    Best friends since school, Libby and Kit live in 2 different states and have continued their long-distance friendship with constant updates on each other’s lives. But when the dynamics change and circumstances lead the friends back together, they find it difficult to continue their friendship from their early years as they now seem to have differing opinions and interests.

    The Art of Friendship is a thought-provoking well-written book that makes for light reading. The two main characters each have well-developed personalities that you can relate to, although to be honest, I found myself leaning more towards one friend than the other.

    I found it a little slow at the beginning but liked the theme and Lisa Ireland has written a book that I would recommend to others. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  6. When 11 year-old Libby moves to Woodvale in Melbourne with her parents, she is nervous about what life will be like for her now. Having left behind their farm, the Talbots are hoping to start afresh in the suburbs. When Libby meets Kit, a girl her age in the new neighbourhood, it isn’t long before the two are firm friends.
    Fast forward to the present day when the ladies are now approaching their 40th birthdays..
    Libby lives in Sydney with her husband Cam, and is a stay-home mum to their teen son Harry, whilst Kit is single and still resides in Melbourne.
    The two women are still close, despite the distance and the different roads they have travelled. Kit is Harry’s godmother, and spends every Christmas with Libby and her family. The two women chat and email each other regularly too.
    When Libby finds out that Cam has been promoted and they will be making the move back to Melbourne, both Libby and Kit are thrilled with the news.
    But their friendship is put to the test when Libby finds herself making friends with Cam’s colleague’s wives, and trying to fit in with their rather posh lifestyle.
    The book explores whether Libby and Kit’s friendship can withstand the test of time, and explores their differences in detail.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I felt that the two main female characters were very real; each had their flaws and although I liked both of them, I admired Kit more as she remained true to herself and stood up for what she believed in. I felt she was more easy-going and had more integrity out of the two.
    I enjoyed the sections in the book that shared their younger years; I actually would’ve liked more, but having said that, the story did flow well and I felt that the reader is able to gain a good understanding of Libby and Kit’s friendship as it developed over the years.
    I liked how the book ended, it actually wasn’t what I was expecting, and it seemed a realistic outcome.
    I would gladly recommend this book as it was an enjoyable and easy read. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review!

  7. The Art of Friendship

    An interesting story about the relationship that develops between friends as adolescents and how it evolves over time, especially as adults when life takes you in different directions. And your socio-economic background differ

    I found the story a little slow to get started but a few chapters in and I was really enjoying it and having to set myself time limits so I didn’t start reading until the early hours of the morning!

    It made me think of a girl that’s been my friend since early high school and how our lives have headed in almost opposite directions. While we still remain friends a little distance is a good thing to keep it going.

    I think this book is an excellent read-especially for someone that wants to read about a situation that isn’t 100% out of the norm.

    Thankyou B&L and Pan Macmillan for giving me the opportunity, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  8. Oh my goodness, I was very late to receive this book but I read it in record time – in fact I was on,y half way through and travelling overseas so decided to take it with me, and I am so glad I did. It kept me entertained and I actually read the other half in one sitting, making air travel so much more enjoyable.

    This tells the story of Libby and Kit who met when they were 11 yo and have been best friends for years. Distance and work has kept them apart but they stayed in touch on a regular basis. That is until Libby’s husband takes a new job that brings them all back together again. From the very beginning the cracks start the show in their relationship as Libby tries to fit in with her husband’s colleagues wives, leaving no time for Kit. Libby’s Son Harry also struggles to fit in as well.

    This is the most honest depiction of a friendship that I have read and so believable as well. It has shot to the top of my best reads this year, I think it’s Lisa’s best by far

  9. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Macmillan Australia for giving me this book to read.

    This is a story of life, love, friendship and growing up.

    We first meet Libby and Kit in Chapter one where it’s January 1989 and the very first day of their friendship.
    Libby and her family had just moved from the country to Melbourne and life was going to be strange and new.
    While looking out her window Libby sees Kit across the road looking at her.
    Kit comes over and knocks on the door. The two girls spend their first day together getting to know each other and from there our story begins.

    Chapter 2 brings us to present day and we find out that Libby has been living in Sydney and is about to move back to Melbourne with her family, back to Kit and their friendship.

    As we progress through the book we see the story from each girls point of view. Giving an insight into each girls personality and thoughts on the friendship.

    Best friends since that first day following and helping each other, being there for each other.
    A friendship that has changed over the years going from the childhood friend living near each other to the phone calls and messages as years have gone by.

    The Art of Friendship is a story of female friendships and their evolvement during the journey of our lives. It will take you back to those friends you made as a child and let you think about the more mature friendships you have in your life now.

    Like the saying goes
    False friends are like autumn leaves found everywhere, true friends are like diamonds precious and rare.

    I really loved this book and it did make me stop and reminisce about friendship gone by, wondering where some people are and how their life turned out.

  10. Thank you to beauty and lace for the opportunity to review The Art Of Friendship. I really enjoyed this book as so much of it rang true.
    It’s the story of Libby and Kit who have been friends since they were kids. As life went on life took them in different directions but they always remained close throughout. That all changes when Libby moves back to Melbourne though. They realise they have drifted apart and don’t have a lot in common anymore. Kit stays true to herself but Libby becomes more worried about how she appears to others. I did find it tough going a couple of times as I really didn’t like who Libby was becoming but I stuck it out and I’m so glad I did.
    In the end the book finishes well and I felt like the characters stories had been told very well.

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