Ginny Watts is still grieving a year after her husband’s death. To make matters worse, she’s also recently lost her job. Her friends, self-styled as the Flowers, decide to whisk her off on a ski holiday in Switzerland, where the wine flows freely and ABBA plays regularly. However, it soon becomes apparent each of the women has been dealing with her own difficulties, and a host of secrets threaten to fracture their friendships.
The title suggests five women and, technically, there are five friends, though they each receive different levels of attention in the text. Most of the story revolves around Ginny—after all, the trip would not happen without the sudden loss of her husband and the distance she puts between herself and the rest of the Flowers. Author Karen Aldous puts her through the ringer as she struggles with tragedies and a major secret carried by one of her friends. She’s a character struggling with loss and finding what she truly wants in life. Because of this, scenes from her perspective are some of the strongest.
However, the book alternates perspectives within chapters, with Flowers Cathy and Kim also getting major time to bloom. Cathy struggles with writing a novel and her husband’s clinginess after his early retirement, and she uses the holiday as an escape. Kim is the only Flower living overseas, in Australia, and she longs to return to the United Kingdom. These complications alone would be enough for one novel, and that’s before considering the final two Flowers, Lou and Angie. It’s a lot of action jammed together and, for the most part, it works. However, there are moments when the sheer number of names and side stories becomes overwhelming.
Fortunately, Aldous is more than skilled, and her humor and sheer joy for her subject matter shines through. Here are five women of varying ski-skill having the time of their lives. Whenever they join together for a meal involving lots of cheese and wine (which is usually after a heavy day of skiing triumphs and blunders), the conversations that flings back and forth between these women sound so perfectly natural. Whether they’re discussing aging, infidelity, grief, or even who’s the better-looking ski instructor, it feels as though you’re eavesdropping on age-old friends. In those moments, it’s real.
And, as a note, if ABBA starts to play, assume dancing will follow.
Title: Five Ladies Go Skiing
Author: Karen Aldous
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 11/05/2018
Classification: Women’s Fiction
Note: I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley.