Four by Andy Jones

Review published on August 12, 2018.

I read and enjoyed a previous book by Andy Jones, Girl 99, so when I saw he had a new book coming out with such an engaging cover, I was immediately tempted. The cover is very clever and hints at some of the conflicts contained in the pages within.

I thought Four got off to a fairly slow start. The main action takes place very early on, but there’s also quite a bit of scene-setting and introduction to the characters. I did keep getting the two couples muddled up (perhaps this was prescient given what was about to take place!). But what that slow start did was draw me into the action bit by bit until I was thoroughly engrossed in what the two couples were doing and feeling.

Those two couples are Sally and Alistair, married for seven years, together for ten, and Mike and Faye, whose relationship is very new. But Sally and Mike have known each other since university and have shared more than just a friendship over the years, and Mike and Alistair work together. So things are complicated when the three friends set off to see Faye in a play in Brighton. A game of Never Have I Ever leads to far more than any of them could have anticipated, and the consequences are potentially far-reaching.

I thought Four was a very intelligent piece of writing about relationships, feelings, regrets and life’s complications. Andy Jones completely hits the spot and has written such an emotive and thoughtful story. His ability to write about flawed characters and difficult situations is something that I saw in Girl 99 too. I was able to immerse myself in the individual predicaments of each character in Four and see it from all sides and although none of the characters comes out unscathed, I thought the conclusion was fitting.

Four perfectly portrays the dynamics between friends, lovers and rivals. The characterisations are so well-drawn that I felt like I was on the rollercoaster of emotions with them. I got to the end of the book and felt satisfied. It’s such a human story and I found myself caring about what happened to the characters and wondering how on earth matters could be resolved.

Give it a go. After all, as the characters say a lot during that fateful night in Brighton, ‘you only regret the things you don’t do’ and you’ll definitely regret not reading Four.

Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes 5/5

Four by Andy Jones
Hodder & Stoughton 9781473680401 pbk Jul 2018

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