Cover image for Between husbands and friends
Between husbands and friends
Thayer, Nancy, 1943-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
241 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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On Order



Can you marry young and remain faithful all your life? Will marriage fulfill your deepest desires? Is a secret the same as a lie? To whom should you be most loyal, your best friend or your spouse? These are some of the questions troubling Irene West, the wife of goodhearted Max West, the editor of a small town Massachussetts newspaper. The Wests' best friends are the glamorous Cunninghams; their four children are friends, too. For ten years the two families vacation every August in Irene's summer house on Nantucket. In August one of the children is diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetically-based disease that will force Irene to expose all the secrets she's been hiding.

Author Notes

Author Nancy Thayer was born in Emporia, Kansas on December 14, 1943. She attended the University of Wichita and received a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in English literature. She taught freshmen English at various colleges and wrote fiction during her free time. Some of her short stories were accepted by various college literary reviews. Her first novel Stepping was published in 1980 and was adapted into a BBC radio series. Since then, she has written numerous books including Moon Shell Beach, The Hot Flash Club, The Hot Flash Club Strikes Again, Hot Flash Holidays, The Hot Flash Club Chills Out, Between Husbands and Friends, The Island House and Beachcombers.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Thayer focuses on the 10-year friendship between Lucy West and Kate Cunningham and their husbands in her latest novel. Lucy narrates the novel, and she explains the beginnings of her marriage and her friendship with Kate in flashback chapters that are interspersed with her narrative of the present day. As Lucy and Kate become best friends, their husbands and their children get to know each other, and they become close as well. The families vacation together in Nantucket, in a house Lucy inherited from her aunt. To make things really interesting, Thayer squeezes as much tension, drama, and tragedy as she can into the novel. Lucy fantasizes about other men; that's fairly common, but does she need to be attracted to every man who walks by her? She also finds everything around her to be sensual, from glasses of iced tea to horse stables. Unfortunately, this soap-opera novel consists of one-dimensional characters moving from one emotion to the next only to find themselves in a very predictable plot. The root of the problem is Lucy's desire to break away, if only temporarily, from her responsibilities, to just once be "the bad girl" instead of the nurturing mother, the faithful wife. But Lucy makes one false step, and her family life is changed forever, as is her best friend, Kate. What could have been a solid story of female friendship is a melodrama of marriage and lust. --Michelle Kaske

Publisher's Weekly Review

Two Massachusetts families live out a decade of births, deaths, secrets and infidelities in this moving 12th novel from Thayer (An Act of Love). Narrator Lucy West, 37, is a self-employed mother of two; her husband, Max, edits the local newspaper in Sussex, a Boston suburb. Suave, irreverent Kate Cunningham and her husband, Chip, an attorney, move to Sussex in 1987; Kate and Lucy meet at their children's preschool and become fast friends. Soon the couples summer together on Nantucket, and their lives grow ever more entwined. Thayer's narrative jumps back and forth between the couples' present and their shared past. One set of chapters follows the Wests and the Cunninghams from 1987 to 1991: during these years, Kate chafed in her unfulfilling marriage, Max becomes a depressed workaholic and Lucy, devastated by her stillborn baby, takes comfort in a brief affair with Chip. Other chapters relate the events of 1998, which test Lucy's marriage and friendship all over again. When her son, Jeremy (conceived in 1991), is diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, both couples must confront the chance that Chip, not Max, is Jeremy's real father. Readers prepared for the slow pace of Thayer's plot will appreciate her detailed, realistic records of motherhood, child-rearing and domestic routine in Sussex and Nantucket. The finale, set in Boston's Children's Hospital, will strike some as cathartic and fulfilling, others as pat and predictable. Yet thoughtful chronicles of female friendship (see The Book Borrower, above) always have appeal, and Thayer's twist on the relationship is sure and steady. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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