This book crept up and grabbed me by the heart, in the best possible way. Good Company centers around the relationships between four friends, in two married couples. Flora and Margot, were roommates in New York in their twenties, both working actors. Flora meets and marries Julian, another actor. Margot marries David, a pediatric surgeon. “Good Company” is the name of the small theater company that Julian and, to a lesser extent, Flora, run.
Twenty years later, Flora and Julian have moved to LA with their daughter, Ruby. Flora has a stable career doing voice work, and Julian is moderately successful acting in TV and movies, while still being involved with Good Company. Margot and David are also in LA, where Margot has a lead in a very Grey’s Anatomy-style medical show, with the wealth and fame that would suggest. While looking for a photograph to give to Ruby, who is graduating high school, Flora finds Julian’s wedding ring. His original ring, that he claimed to have lost 20 years ago.
This discover prompts a reflection and re-examination of the entire history between the four friends. Structurally, alternates between present day and flashbacks covering the intervening 20 years, while rotating between POV narration from the five main characters (though Fiona is the fulcrum around which the others move). This doesn’t sound like much, but the true mastery is in the deftness with which Sweeney handles her characters. All four of the adult characters have History – they’ve known each other for two decades! We learn about the love they all hold for each other, but also about the weirdness of being friends with someone at a completely different level of wealth/fame. Margot treats Ruby like a surrogate daughter, which is complicated for both Ruby and Fiona. And as we learn more about the significance of the found ring, we see a fracturing in this group that means nothing will be the same again.
As a middle-aged person myself, there’s a lot here that hit me right in the feels. These characters are beautifully written, and feel fully three-dimensional and true to life. The way these four friends end up having to re-evaluate themselves and their relationships…it was painful, and cathartic, and hopeful.