Originally reviewed for Whispering Stories – 3 stars
“Everything is fine. Nothing feels right.”
Samantha and Daniel Blake are married. Samantha and Daniel Blake have two children, the youngest having just left for university. Samantha and Daniel Blake have since then moved into a new building, which looks good on them, somewhere in midtown Los Angeles. The change in scenery is the beginning of Samantha and Daniel Blake’s second act, an act meant to bestow upon them a universe of ravishing reviews, perhaps even a standing ovation. The audience is on their feet, their hands are meeting one another in apparent bliss… but why is there no sound?
“After shedding all those coats, what was left behind was a confused, scared and lonely forty-something woman named Samantha, who she had never taken the time to know.”
Samantha was always someone’s something. She was her parents’ daughter, then Daniel’s wife, and then another layer was added once she became someone’s mother. Having met her husband-to-be while still at university, Samantha never had, at least not the time, to figure herself out. Now, with her children gone and her husband half-distracted by his income-proving job, she finds herself… lost.
I would say that Friends at Forty by Angie Dickerson is, first and foremost, a novel about change. At first, Samantha and Daniel seem to recover from the earthquake of transformation in a gentle way, but the replicas keep coming and shaking the roots long ago buried in wet sand mistaken for cement. Everything seems to then start falling apart, and rather chaotically.
Even though I enjoyed the premise, I must confess the deliverance just wasn’t my cup of tea. I feel like there’s something… missing. This is indeed an introduction of sorts, the beginning of what is meant to be a saga, but it feels too… floaty, too… out of nowhere. I understand Samantha’s mood swings, I understand that she’s meant to come across as loveably annoying, even the clichés that surround her journey make sense to me, but Daniel with his odd Batman quirk that doesn’t seem to belong at all and his reaction to other women… Perhaps that’s the whole point, perhaps we are supposed to jump into Samantha’s shoes and see, feel, the surroundings through her eyes. Still, there’s just… I can’t quite put my finger on it.
There are moments of utter joy, though, and abundant laughter. The way food is described, for example, is almost sinful, as well as the way the different atmospheres, and the transitions between them, are painted.
All in all, I would go as far as calling it entertaining.