cover image The Friendship Test

The Friendship Test

Elizabeth Noble, Author . HarperCollins $13.95 (437p) ISBN 978

Noble (The Reading Group ) spins another compulsively readable yarn, guided by the cozily familiar conceit of lifelong friendship taking root among vastly different gals. This fab four, deftly rendered with a few pen strokes as distinct personalities—brassy American Freddie; doting, maternal Tasmin; beautiful, sensitive Sarah; and scholarly, serious Reagan—meet in Oxford in the '80s and nurse each other through heartache and calamity with soul-baring dish sessions and fervent avowals of friendship, calling themselves the Tenko Club. The divergent threads of their adult lives are destined to knot again in 2004, after Freddie suffers a double blow with her husband's affair and her estranged father's death. Her oldest friends rally to her cause, each in her own way—from caustic honesty to fierce protectiveness—though bouts of tragedy and betrayal threaten to unravel their bonds. The action spans England and America, with a sprawling, twisty plot that will appeal to readers in both places. Noble's tender wit depicts the love among friends as steadfast and magical as any romance. Breezy and heartwarming, the novel's beach-book disposition also makes for a cozy winter read. Agent, Stephanie Cabot. (Jan.)