What do you do when you find that your life isn’t what you’d expected? Bestselling author Erin Duffy tackles this in her latest novel, Lost Along the Way.
All through childhood and adolescence, Jane, Cara, and Meg swore their friendship would stand the test of time. Nothing would come between them, they pledged. But once they hit their twenties, life got more complicated and the BFFs began to grow distant. When Jane eloped with her slick, wealthy new boyfriend and didn’t invite her oldest friends to the ceremony, the small cracks and fissures in their once rock-solid relationship became a chasm that tore them apart.
Jane’s elopement is the starting point for Lost Along the Way, and quite honestly, is suggestive of their entire relationship. Duffy wants the reader to believe that these three women had an unbreakable bond at one time, but I had a hard time buying into it. Jane’s decision to not include them in her marriage, yet wants them to be excited for her, never rang true to me. The fact that the book starts with this clouded my view of the rest of it, especially as I tried to connect with the characters, and more importantly, their friendship-the basis for the entire book.
The narrative switches between Jane, Meg, and Cara, flipping back and forth in time–never chronologically–as readers get glimpses of their high school friendship, their marriages, and how their adult friendship fell apart. The problem with this is that it read as something that Duffy is trying to sell the reader on rather than events that we participated in.
All three women face crises in the present time: Jane’s husband has been arrested for a white-collar crime, Cara’s husband is a controlling ass, and Meg finds herself incapable of having children leading her to separate from her husband. As they’d based the success of their adult lives on finding the right man and the right marriage, these childhood friends are at a loss as to how to proceed. Add in that they’d let circumstances destroy their friendship, they find themselves completely alone. When Jane has to run from the media–who is stalking her nonstop–she lands on Cara’s doorstep and sets into motion a long overdue reconciliation.
This is where the book picks up as Duffy finally allows the reader to get to know these three women on our own terms. We find out that Jane is a bit nutty, but always felt inferior to Cara and Meg. Cara, we see, was always driven to be the best, unwilling to give up even when all she had left was a toxic marriage. And Meg, my favorite of the three, the one I felt was the most real, we recognize as the gentle peace maker who loves her husband so much that she would sacrifice her happiness for his. I liked getting to know these friends with their quick, witty banter and willingness to reopen old wounds in order to find their way back to each other.
Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to save the book for me as I found it cliché-ridden and forced, the last third of the book not enough to save my overall reading experience.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for honest feedback.
Lost Along the Way was published in July 2016 by William Morrow.
Erin Duffy graduated from Georgetown University in 2000 with a B.A. in English and went on to spend more than a decade working in fixed income sales on Wall Street. Bond Girl is her first novel.