You could be mistaken for thinking Laura Shaine Cunningham's 'Beautiful Bodies' is an attempt at creating another ‘Sex and the City’, given it’s about 6 friends in Manhattan. But don't be fooled. It’s a much more emotional, sensual story of friendship than the former could ever have achieved. All approaching 40, these women have been friends for 20 years, and although they lead entirely different lives, they’re still able to maintain the strong bond that unites them.
The book takes place over 12 hours, during the worst storm to have ever hit New York. Protagonist Jessie is hosting a not-baby-shower for her free-spirited yet stable friend, Claire. After numerous bottles of red wine, many truths are revealed…
Each character has her own unique story told, with Jessie, a journalist and host of the party, being the central character. Whilst she obviously has her mind far, far away, to the mountains of Colorado where she had a muchly-needed romantic encounter prior to the party, she rushes to create a warm atmosphere for the party that she believes will be a disaster. Each guest, bedraggled from the approaching storm and preoccupied with their thoughts, stumbles through her doorway to tell their story. Nina, looking after her dying mother, worries about leaving her alone, and is fixated on remembering a rather unromantic episode with a sexual new-age neighbour.
They are soon joined by Lisbeth, a fragile model, dazed from bumping into a previous flame on the subway; actress Sue Carol carting all her belongings along with her, having left her husband; and Martha, a successful businesswoman, with as much tact as the judges on ‘X Factor'.
As the storm gathers force and the women guzzle all the wine, tempers start flying around the room faster than a bat out of hell. Many secrets are shared, some of which will undoubtedly change their whole friendships. If one thing is clear in this modern tale of friendship, it’s that true friends will always be close to your heart, no matter the geographical distance or difference in lives. Whilst not the usual light-hearted chick-lit book you can leave in the toilet, reading on the occasional visit, it will grip your heart as you become more and more fond of the colourful characters and their complex lives. I found myself unable to put the book down, and even shed a few tears after the climax of the storm and the numerous truths spilled. [Katherine Hannaford]
If you liked this, try The Three Day Rule by Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees.