Valérie Perrin’s first book 'Fresh Water for Flowers' was a firm favourite in the Den, and 'Three' (also translated by Hildergarde Serle) is as equally enthralling as she brilliantly draws the reader into the untouchable friendship of three young people growing up in the small town of La Comelle in France.
Valérie Perrin is adept at moving between timelines as the story switches between three best friends growing up in the late '80s, early '90s and present day.
Nina, Adrien and Étienne meet at school aged 10 in 1986, linking arms with Adrien on the left, Nina in the middle and Etienne on the right – an untouchable friendship. Sharing music, movies, playing at being radio presenters, the three are inseparable – Etienne the leader, Nina the heart and soul and Adrien happy to follow. Nina is confident, graceful and artistic and lives with her loving grandfather, a postman having never known either of her parents. Etienne is tall, blond, athletic and fearless but unable to live up to the high academic expectations set by his father. Adrien, brought up by his mother, is painfully shy, clever and sensitive, he can’t quite believe these two enigmatic people have chosen him as their friend. The story follows their childhood, dealing with the ups and downs of those formative teenage years as they work towards their 'le bac' exams – the dream being to all study together in Paris and make something of their lives beyond small town La Comelle.
But as Perrin switches the story to 2017, we realise that these 3 inseparable friends no longer see each other and haven’t done so for a long while. Will a life affirming moment force them back together again and what haunts them from their past?
Full of suspense and surprise, Perrin has a gift for drawing you into all her characters as they deal with love, loss, hardship, illness and regrets. She effortlessly creates a gripping and beautiful story and as the two timelines begin to converge throws in wonderful plot twists and unpredictable moments. A perfect summer's read.