by RG Manse
I picked up this book on a recommendation from WordPress.
The main protagonist of this story, set in present-day Edinburgh, is Rosy, an eighteen-year-old student at Heriot Watt University.
Rosy has never known her biological father, Frank Friendship, but has grown up with her mum Irene and step-dad Findlay. She’s on the point of accepting a top vacation placement with a tech firm in Sweden when circumstances lead her to meet Frank for the first time. All that she has been told is that Frank raped Irene and that she left him for Findlay.
Frank is not at all what Rosy expects. He manages a café owned by a woman called Phyllis and there is something very odd about him. He’s obsessed with germs; he is rude to his customers and tells them what to order; occasionally, he throws a customer out! At first, Rosy supposes he is simple minded but as she gets to know him better she realises there is a great deal more to him than his reputation suggests. Frank is certainly ill-mannered and stubborn but he has many hidden and unexpected talents. Rosy also begins to suspect that the rape story may not be true. But what did happen that day, when she was conceived? And what’s the story behind the gruesome object her grandmother keeps in a biscuit tin?
Given the job by Phyllis of turning the café’s fortunes around, Rosy faces an uphill struggle to bring Frank on board with her ideas. She works on him gradually, all the while fighting not only his stubbornness but her own strange and disturbing emotions. Will she act on them? She also has to contend with other personal issues, her relationship with her boyfriend, with Findlay and with the Swede who wants to give her a job.
I didn’t know what to make of Screw Friendship when I started reading. Rosy’s boyfriend is called Boog and for some reason, the setting being Edinburgh an all that, the name triggered a memory. Inexplicably, the shadow of Trainspotting fell over my Kindle. [I absolutely hated that!] However, as I persevered, the shadow fell away and I began to like the characters – well some of them anyway.
Screw Friendship is not a bit like Trainspotting – thank goodness! The novel has a very well conceived and executed plot with many hidden corners. It is at once romance and mystery and, although in places there are dark undertones, the overall tone is comedic. The antics of Boog – in spite of his friends – to gain, and regain, Rosy’s affection sparkle with good humour. He isn’t at all a Jane Austen/Mr Darcy type of hero yet, though I didn’t exactly like him, I began to warm towards him by the end. I can just about remember what it was like being a student! And Frank is a wonderful creation -one suspects at once he’s autistic, yet there are so many mysteries to be revealed about him.
Will I read another book in the series? Maybe. I’m not really into series no matter how good they are. However, Screw Friendship works as a standalone novel, so anyone who feels as I do can pick it up, enjoy it and feel satisfied at the end.