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Can We Still Be Friends [Paperback]

Alexandra Shulman
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

12 April 2012

It's the summer of 1983 and best friends, Salome, Annie and Kendra have left university to embark on adulthood. Three very different girls with very different paths ahead.

- Sal, the aspiring journalist whose personal demons threaten to destroy everything she has achieved.

- Annie, the capable domestic beauty, convinced that marriage will give her everything she wants.

- Kendra, the daughter of chic, liberal parents who, searching for her own identity, encounters a life she never expected.

As they navigate the decade of ra-ra skirts and shoulder pads, Duran Duran and Margaret Thatcher, they discover that the future is what happens to you, not what you plan.

Their interwoven tale captures brilliantly what it is to learn the exhilarating and painful truths about love, work, family and the ties of friendship.

Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Fig Tree; Open Market ed edition (12 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781905490783
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905490783
  • ASIN: 190549078X
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.4 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,574,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alexandra Shulman has edited British Vogue since 1992. She is a contributor to The Times, Daily Mail, Guardian and Daily Telegraph and lives in London. Can We Still Be Friends is her first novel.

Product Description


Exquisite time travel . . . Every detail - from fashion, design and music to social tribes and verbal tics - is spot on (Guardian)

Wonderfully evokes that ping-pong between trivial and tremendous so characteristic of the Eighties . . . great on atmosphere . . . An engaging debut, alive with human sympathy (Wendy Holden Daily Mail)

Engrossing . . . brilliantly captures the complexities of female friendship (Good Housekeeping)

A poignant look at the juggling act women must maintain if they're to carve out a career, and how friendships define life's tribulations (Glamour)

Warm and entertaining . . . captures the excitement of being young and glamorous at a time when the sky really did seem to be the limit (Kate Saunders The Times)

'Sapphic sex, shoulder pads and Spandau Ballet . . . Too seductive a storyline to wait for the inevitable film (Tatler)

Shulman's well-executed debut is committed to portraying life in all its contradictory, chaotic, celebratory form. A novel both full of heart and comfortable in its own skin (Observer)

An impressive debut . . . the best-quality chick-lit available and a thoroughly enjoyable summer read (Daily Express)

A fun summer read . . . a page-turner, making me nostalgic for a time when youthful female friendships had to be worked at, face to face over a bottle of wine and some nasty pink taramasalata, rather than simply maintained with a few mouse clicks and a "share" button (FT)

An enjoyable romp back to a more flamboyant time (Sunday Express)

Shulman has a terrific eye for the small yet telling detail (Observer Magazine) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Alexandra Shulman has edited British Vogue since 1992. She is a contributor to The Times, Daily Mail, Guardian and Daily Telegraph and lives in London. This is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fab title, great cover, shame about the book 9 Jun 2012
Terrible. Whoever is posting 5* reviews for this piece of tripe is either a friend of Ms. Shulman's or hoping to be featured in Vogue. This book potentially had so much going for it. The lady has done a wonderful job with Vogue and one presumes she is a journalist who can write. So why has she produced this piece of consummate rubbish that has wooden characters, cliched dialogue and virtually no plot? The first chapter is possibly the worst opening chapter I've ever read and if Ms Shulman was not a 'name' there is no way on god's earth that a publisher would have looked twice at this.

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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but sadly not brilliant 1 May 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was really looking forward to reading 'Can We Still Be Friends', Alexandra Shulman's first novel. I'd read all the publicity, I liked the coming of age premise and I'm a child of the 80s... I expected this novel to hit the spot, and so invested in the hardback. Unfortunately I was disappointed.

I won't go into the plot as this was not especially remarkable. The major issue for me was that I found none of the 3 main women characters likeable, and as such really didn't care about their individual outcomes. Added to this, the constant label checking (which I know can be part of the scene setting, but was excessive here in my view), was quite wearing and began to feel like product placement.

It wasn't dreadful, but it wasn't the brilliant debut I was expecting either. Overall, I'd advise waiting for the paperback.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst book ever 8 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This, apparently, is Ms Shulman's first novel. Let's hope it's her last. I can only think that the excellent Guardian review she received, which prompted me to buy this book, was written either by a very good friend or by someone equally as shallow and living with her in cuckoo land. The whole book has the feel of being written by a 15-year old schoolgirl. Who cares what designer label everybody was wearing at every moment of their insignificant, boring lives? Ms Shulman clumsily tries to give the "novel" the feel of the eighties by clumsily inserting references to Margaret Thatcher, Arthur Scargill etc and current pop records. Each reference lands with a clunk, shoehorned in for no reason except to say "Hey! this is the eighties!". Being the same age as the protagonists I had hoped for some recognition of the world I lived in at the time but it bore no resemblance to real life.

The book was people by a large cast of unlikeable characters about whom nobody could care. Pretentious, superficial, pompous - the whole range of characteristics was here, from A to B. It was a struggle to finish the book, in which nothing of any interest happens. Spoiler alert - no-one dies. I wish they all would.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By barbara
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Started reading this as a work Book Club choice. I wanted to give this a one star but really didn't waste enough of my time reading it to hate it even more than I disliked it. I found the characters shallow and felt that the author had just collected as much information about the products and fashions of the eighties and "name dropped them throughout the book. For example, (my words) .. She fell over the precipice. Not enough - She has to fall over in her "Whoever" rope-wedged strappy sandals. This is a book for those who want to reminisce as they read through - "I had that record, went to that place, ate at Cranks, fried myself to a crisp on the same beach, etc, etc. - banal comes to mind. Perhaps I am jaundiced having lived through it and bought the deep fat fryer.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 17 July 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read lots of books of all types and if they are anyway good will finish them in 2 or 3 days.It's been a long time since I've had a book I had to persuade myself to finish and it took me three weeks. Three words - boring, boring and boring. The characters are boring, the plot is boring and the ending is boring (I was holding out for a big twist!)don't bother
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars can we still be friends 10 May 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Found this book very easy to put down and very hard to pick up. On the good side I had no problems getting to sleep with it. It was just like one of those stories that you get in a magazine, just stretched out.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just awful 23 April 2013
By Katie H
I took this with me to occupy me on a long journey and have had to abandon it a few chapters in. It's so badly written, it's making me wince. It's bland, banal and humourless.

It's also most off-putting that my copy seems to break words in two every few lines, rather than the publisher having adjusted the type to fit the page. There's a highly inappropriate example of this on page one! That was pretty much my highlight of the whole read.

Don't bother. There are so many better chick lit writers out there.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Chick-Lit Noire 14 Jan 2014
By Kate Hopkins TOP 500 REVIEWER
Vogue editor Shulman's novel begins, as such novels often do, with three female friends leaving university (in this case in the early 1980s) to head to work in London, and vowing eternal friendship. Once they hit the big city, their lives begin to go in very different directions. Skinny, ambitious and glamorous Salome (Sal) lands a job working as a journalist on a Sunday tabloid, and is soon entering the hard-drinking and hard-partying world of celebrity journalism with enthusiasm. Socially conscious, gentle Kendra (the daughter of wealthy American ex-pats working in the arts) decides to work with deprived children, and takes a job working under the charismatic Gioia, director of a centre for delinquent teenagers which introduces them to music, art and crafts and theatre in a converted chapel in Kentish Town. Alas, the salary is so small that she still has to live with her parents in their Notting Hill mansion - until the job leads her to make a surprising discovery about herself. Meanwhile Annie, the quietest of the three girls, lands a job in PR and begins to search for the thing she wants more than anything else - a husband. As the 1980s progress, the girls' lives become increasingly complicated. Kendra and Gioia fall in love, to the disapproval of Kendra's ultra-stylish mother and puzzlement of Kendra's gentle father Art, and also have to cope with lessening funds for the Chapel as Thatcher's regime begins to hit hard. Annie gives up her first boyfriend Jackson when he turns out to be a two-timer, and leaps into marriage with the stable and responsible Charlie - only to find that a man who seems perfect on paper is often very imperfect in terms of a life match. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Alright read
Not hugely thrilling as books go, I kept reading more because I had time to fill on my commute than because I actually really liked the book, but I did finish it, so there was... Read more
Published 12 months ago by HC
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I gave this three stars because I got to the end but really don't rate it.

The characters are two dimensional stereotypes and I didn't warm to any of them in the... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Booklover
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather dull
The gold cover caught my eye in the supermarket not to mention that it's written by the editor of Vogue. I thought it would be fun and glamorous but it was just dull and flat. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Book worm
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I expected
This book seemed rather slow and although a nice read it was nothing special. I struggled the whole time to remember the names of the main characters, never a good sign!
Published 14 months ago by Lindsay Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Down menory lane!
Enjoyable read,prompted some lovely memories of the period.....a trip back in time....fantasy and fun.Final chapter just a lillte predictable.....though how else could it end?
Published 14 months ago by janine johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars slick chick lit
'Can We Still Be Friends' is light, enjoyable,& unmemorable. I've no wish to meet the characters again in a sequel. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Alys
1.0 out of 5 stars Froth
Very formulaic, not particularly well written and a predictable storyline. People had daft names, plot had holes in. Waste of time reading book.
Published 23 months ago by Mrs. J. A. Fereday
1.0 out of 5 stars can we still be friends?
I read this book for a work book club, it wasn't what i was expecting, it has no story and is about 3 uninteresting characters, that could be set in any time, except for a few... Read more
Published 23 months ago by becca
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