Review of ‘Four’ by Andy Jones

The ‘four’ of the title are Sally, Alistair, Mark and Fae. The first pair have a troubled marriage, the second pair are not well-matched. Alistair and Mark are friends and colleagues, while Sally and Mark have known each other a long time and should have (but didn’t) become an item. During an alcohol and ecstasy fuelled binge, the couples swap partners and this is the catalyst for the soul-searching and dissection of everyone’s relationships.

After a rocky start in which I was confused about who was who and their histories together, I began to enjoy the book and became absorbed in how everything was going to work out for these four people. The characterisation is not that deep because so much is going on, plus the narrative is all third person so I didn’t really get a strong sense of the characters. However, that wasn’t a big issue for me. I thought that the writing was more sophisticated than Andy Jones’ previous books that I’ve read (Girl 99 and Just the Two of Us) and it moves away from the ‘lad lit’ style, if such a term is appropriate. There wasn’t as much humour either but instead there was more realism.

The plot took a direction which (to me at least) was unexpected, although I don’t know why I was that surprised, as the themes were present in Just the Two of Us. The complicated romantic and family lives of the characters were interesting to follow, as I wanted to know how their problems were to be resolved. The characters’ careers – advertising, GP, acting – were presented in enough detail to complement the plot. The overall tone of the book is bittersweet and emotional.

First published in 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton.

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