REVIEW: MY DEAREST FRIEND, BY NANCY THAYER

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Daphne Miller is suffering the many losses of her life, beginning with the divorce years before and complicated by the recent loss of her 16-year-old daughter, Cynthia, who decided to go live with her father in California. The same father who did not even bother to keep in touch for the fourteen years since the divorce.

Yes, the teenage years with her daughter had been difficult and challenging, but she’d never believed that Cynthia would betray her this way.

She moved to a small cottage in Plover, Vermont, less expensive than anything she could find in Westhampton, MA, where she works as a secretary for the university.

That is another loss that leaves a bitter taste…she had given up her own dreams of finishing her Ph.D., to support the family until her husband Joe’s career was secure. And with the divorce, she lost the family home.

Now that her new life offers her the opportunity to start over, she has made a new friend, Jack Hamilton, a young professor who lives in the A-frame down the hill with his wife Carey Ann and their toddler Alexandra. She enjoys talking to him, and he seems to seek her out as well.

Could more happen between them? Daphne has fought this, because she has been on the receiving end of betrayal, when her husband Joe had an affair all those years ago.

Weaving back and forth across time, we learn more about what happened between Joe and Daphne, and why the betrayal felt especially painful, and we see how the ordinary day in and day out hassles led to the erosion of the marriage.

My Dearest Friend unfolds to reveal characters who remind me of people I have known, and the situations in which they find themselves are all too familiar as well. I liked how vividly each character was portrayed, from the spoiled and petulant Carey Ann and her inability to see how allowing her toddler to control the lives of those around her was harming her, to Daphne’s manipulative best friend Laura, from back in the day, whose machinations were so well hidden that nobody could see them coming. And let us not overlook Hudson Jennings, head of the English department, who has had feelings for Daphne for years, but cannot leave his ill wife. Then there are the histrionics of teenaged Cynthia, whose behavior was very reminiscent of many girls her age that I’ve known. I felt as though I was part of the community that surrounded the characters, and connected with them emotionally.

Set some time in the 1980s, the absence of current day technology and devices made the story feel very nostalgic for me. And the fact that it was actually written during this time period made it all even more realistic. There were no cell phones and not that many answering machines. People could ignore the phone! Bliss…

Themes of choice, morality, guilt, and regret kept the story grounded in reality, and one that I will think of often. 4.5 stars.

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6 thoughts on “REVIEW: MY DEAREST FRIEND, BY NANCY THAYER

    • I wondered if I might even have this one on my shelves, but did not find it. But I think I might have read it a long time ago. I probably had it in paperback, and I got rid of all of those when I moved. Thanks for stopping by, Patty.

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