Newly retired professional woman Eleanor began the Friday night gatherings almost by accident - after weeks of watching two young women, both apparently alone and with a young child, walk separately past her Fulham living room window, she impulsively asks them to join her for a drink, and offers to watch the boys. From this begin sprang a weekly meeting that grew to six semi-regular attendees: Eleanor, single mother Paula (and her energetic son Toby), widowed mother Lindsay (and her enigmatic son Noah), Lindsay's younger and feckless sister Jules, business woman and neighbour Blaise, and Blaise's business partner (and mother of Rose and Poppy) Karen. Through their regular meetings close ties develop, ties that are threatened when Paula invites a man to meet them all.
Although I liked the way the children, particularly Toby, were portrayed, I found Friday Nights a little disappointing. The men in particular are universally appalling - from Toby's adulterous father to Karen's painterly (but unproductive) husband, and most of all Paula's new and ultimately unsatisfying man, the entire gender is a washout.
I agree that female friendships can be strong, enduring, supportive etc but the thrust of the book seems to be that women are better on their own. Though each woman ended up in a different place than she started in, I didn't really feel like there was a lot of growth, and I finished the novel with a strong sense of 'eh.' That and an interest in knowing more about Noah's internal life. - Alex