Thursday, 5 March 2015
The Faithful Couple by AD Miller
review by Maryom
In 1993 two young British men meet at a hostel in California. Adam is fresh from university, seeing the world while hoping in a laid back way that something will 'turn up' for him in television; Neil is slightly older, has been out in the post-uni real world long enough to know it doesn't live up to expectations, taking time out from a dead-end job; they bond instantly. Driving north up the California coastline, an unpleasant incident occurs - one that, although quickly put behind them at the time, will haunt them throughout the years but bind them in shared guilt.
I started The Faithful Couple expecting something like a mates version of David Nicholls' One Day, and in many ways that what it is - but also darker and grittier. It follows the relationship between two young men who accidentally meet in San Diego, bond on a road trip and become friends for life - like the entwined tree from which the novel takes it title, they may try to go their separate ways but fate has joined them together.
Their story encompasses a wide change of issues that form the backdrop to almost all our lives - class, wealth, children, family, death, guilt, betrayal, love - and explores the complex emotions that feed our relationships - envy and competitiveness having as much place in them as shared interests or companionship.
I seem to have been one of the few people who were left a bit unimpressed by the author's previous book Snowdrops but this one is a different matter. I loved it - raced through it in almost a single sitting, found myself caught up the lives of these two young men, wanting to know if they'd find the things they were searching for in life, whether money or love, if they could allow the past to be just that and not destroy their relationship.
If I had any criticism it would be that occasionally I thought the author tried just a little too hard - the turning of a phrase, an obscure word, the re-iteration of a point - but on the whole, it's an excellent read and unusual in portraying a male friendship surviving the ups and downs of the years.
Maryom's review - 4.5 stars
Publisher - Little, Brown
Genre -adult fiction