Published: 12 January 2023
Author: Heather Darwent
Published by: Penguin Viking
Length: 384 pages
Reading dates: 21-29 December 2022
Clare arrives at the University of Edinburgh with a secret. This is her chance for a blank slate: to find the right people and reinvent herself.
And then she meets Tabitha.
Tabitha is charismatic, beautiful and intimidatingly wealthy. Soon Clare is sucked into her enigmatic circle of friends and their dizzying world of champagne on rooftops and summers in France.
Her new life has begun.
Then Tabitha reveals the little project they’re working on, a project they need Clare’s help with. It’s reckless, possibly perilous and might finally allow Clare to become who she was meant to be…
But how much is an extraordinary life worth if others have to pay?
In the prologue we witness three young girls who appear to be in danger after being picked up by a man in a car but very quickly it transpires they aren’t the ones in danger.
The story then begins with Clare as she arrives at Edinburgh University to study the History of Art. We know from her thoughts that she isn’t really sure what sort of person she should be to fit in, something I think everyone who attends University feels to some extent. A chance to reinvent yourself away from family and old friends, the chance to be a different person, and Clare has the need to do that more than most. Clare soon meets a girl on her course called Tabitha who is beautiful, confident and rich and is invited back to her flat for a meal where she meets the rest of their friendship group, Imogen, Samuel and Ava. The flat they live in is luxurious compared to usual student accommodation and it transpires the group knew each others before coming to University, all having led affluent lives.
Clare gradually becomes friendlier with the group who she nicknames The Shiver (because they remind her of a group of sharks) She is never entirely sure of the rules of their friendship. When Tabitha has an idea for a business making money by entrapping husbands who are suspected of foul play, she ropes the group in and Clare becomes a key member of the team, using her talents to try and catch the husbands out. But she soon bites off more than she can chew and she finds herself in danger.
Showing the darker side of friendship, The Things We Do For Our Friends certainly doesn’t show this set of girls in a good light. Bitchy and unlikable they are the sort of girls you never can relax with. Perhaps a little slow to start with after the shocking opening, around half way it really picked up the pace and turned into a real page turner of a novel that left me shocked with it’s tense, twisty plot. An impressively dark debut about toxic friendships, recommended by me!
Many thanks to Viking for the proof copy.
About the author
Heather Darwent is an author based just outside of Edinburgh near the sea. She is currently working on her debut novel, The Things We Do to Our Friends which will be published by Penguin in January 2023. Representation: Emily Glenister/DHH Literacy Agency.