Review: Rich and Pretty

I like books that are ostensibly about nothing. The ones that meander on by, a kind of collection of every day happenings that, together, make up a life.

So when Rich and Pretty, Rumaan Alam’s debut novel, found its way to me, I was excited.


Rich and Pretty is about Sarah and Lauren, best friends since they were 11. They are now 32, and still “best” friends but in that way that happens when you are 32 and your lives have diverged from the life of your best friend from childhood. No one knows you like your friends from childhood, but aside from shared memories, you may not have that much in common anymore.

That’s what is happening to Sarah and Lauren – life is getting in the way but they still make an effort to go for dinner, or drinks to catch up. Well Sarah does. Lauren is always the responder. Sarah is about to get married and there’s obviously only Lauren that will do as a maid of honour (not matron, because Lauren isn’t married).

I assumed that Alam was a woman. Alam writes women like he is one of us. He understands our contradictions, our motivations, the things that we worry about, the way female friendships ebb and flow. I was shocked when I googled the author to discover he was a man.

I saw so much of myself and my girlfriends in this book. It is a struggle to maintain friendships as an adult, when other life things get in the way: work, partners, family etc. It’s especially tricky for those relationships you’ve had since you were young, before all those things got in the way, when you were used to spending hours together or talking to each other on the phone. When suddenly you have to schedule time for those friendships and those that aren’t that robust, kind of fade away.

Sarah and Lauren are in this place. They don’t necessarily have that much in common anymore but they want to maintain the relationship for what was. Sarah needs Lauren to be frank with her, to have conversations that aren’t necessarily wedding related, to have someone who completely understands her family and their idiosyncrasies. Lauren doesn’t necessarily need Sarah the same way but she knows that her life is missing something without Sarah in it.

This is one of those quiet books that I think gets better the longer you sit with it. It’s sharply written, with wry observations. Alam’s prose is precise – no words are wasted, extraneous.

I think this book would be a welcome addition on a trip to the beach. I think it would make for great patio reading, or to discuss in a book club.

The more I think about it, the more I loved it.

12 thoughts on “Review: Rich and Pretty

  1. This sounds so familiar! The friendship thing, I mean. My ‘new’ friend and I often talk about our old friends and how some of them are only our friends now because they have always been our friends, but we wouldn’t necessarily click with them if we were meeting them at this point in our life (if you know what I mean). And then there are the old friends who have stood the test of time. Sounds like a book I would like to read. 🙂

    • I know EXACTLY what you mean. I think this is so common among female friendships! Which is one of the reasons it surprised me so much that the author was a man – I don’t think male friendships are nearly as complicated?

      • I know my husband’s aren’t. He doesn’t think much about his old friends – he’s just friends with whoever’s around.

  2. Really great review! I am definitely putting this higher on my to-read list! Friendships are so weird.. when you realize someone who used to mean everything to you has grown into a different person .. and so have you! Super interested to read this now :). Glad you liked it!!!

  3. Your take on this fascinated me and I’m going to chalk it up to age. Meaning I’m a cranky crone because what you loved about it bugged me. I didn’t know the author was a man either but 1/3 of the way I felt like the writing felt wrong and when I saw he was a man it made sense BUT I think he was writing exactly right for young women. It just felt a lot more TMI than I like and that would be why. I’m not totally prudish, but I’m not as open as the book was. Plus, it’s a stage of life that was awhile ago and so not so relatable for me.

    I’m really glad you loved and am going to incorporate your opinion in my review!

    • I think reading a book at the right time is a huge part of whether or not you like it. This book is very much of a generation and I can see why it might not work for all readers.
      You’re not a cranky crone though.

  4. Pingback: Wealthy Women: Mini-Reviews - The Gilmore Guide to Books

  5. Ha! Now that I’ve read your review, immediately after reading the “Cranky Crone’s” review, I’n fascinated! I agree with Naomi, I would have NEVER considered this from the title–just not my typical interest. Although I SO agree with your first two sentences!! I call them “slice of life” books! So now, due to you and Catherine I have yet another on the massive I’ll-never-live-long-enough-to-read-them-all TBR list!! 😃

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