Book Review: Friends Disunited by Richard Ayres

Friends Disunited is set partly in north Staffordshire and partly in south Buckinghamshire.

It is 2002, and Dave is 59.  A former university lecturer, he had to retire after suffering horrific facial injuries which have resulted in his becoming a recluse. He becomes emotionally dependent on his counsellor, Susie.

Susie encourages him to end his isolation by making on-line contact with his former school-friends whom he has not seen since he left his hometown.  E-mails are exchanged, and his old friends begin to confide in him about each other.  Dave realises that he can influence their lives by breaking these confidences.

He begins to act as a puppet-master, with devastating consequences not only for his former friends but ultimately for Dave himself.

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Friends Disunited is a good example of how wrong first impressions can be. At first, I felt sorry for Dave who is a recluse because of facial injuries. The injuries are so bad that it can be difficult to understand what he’s saying. By the end of the book, I still felt sorry for Dave but for different reasons.

After Dave’s counsellor, Susie, realizes that Dave has become too emotionally dependent on her, she suggests that he reach out to old friends.

The internet definitely has its positive as well as its negative uses. Being able to email old friends without them seeing or hearing him is definitely positive for Dave. He can reconnect and he doesn’t have to tell them what happened to him if he doesn’t want to.

The characters in Friends Disunited are well developed, each having their own secrets and their own negative way of dealing with those secrets. Many issues have been lying just beneath the surface with Dave’s friends. When a couple of them confide in Dave and he breaks those confidences, things get interesting. Beween the secrets, the underlying tension, and Dave’s interference, what will happen? Hang on for the ride!

I definitely recommend Friends Disunited. It’s not only a good read but it is full of surprises.

About the Author

Richard Ayres lives in Staffordshire.  He worked in Further Education for thirty years before he took early retirement and began writing.

His first novel, ‘A Pennine Incident’, was published in July 2011.  This is a tense portrayal of a mystery in Martin’s past and its effect on his life and relationships – chiefly between him and his wife Jennifer, and another couple, Stephen and Jacqui. The main themes explored in the novel are the impact of a single traumatic event on the life of an individual, the fragility of friendship, the effects of ageing and changes in personality on relationships, and the impact of class origin and upbringing on later life, all played out in the seeming tranquillity of the Yorkshire Dales.

His second novel, ‘The Further Education of Mike Carter’ was published in February 2012. It is set in 2001 and is a satire on life in a mythical Further Education College in the English midlands. It portrays the clash of cultures in a college 8 years after semi-privatisation, where older members of staff cling to the public-service ethos (and some to a hedonistic lifestyle) and are fighting a rear-guard action against the New Men and Women who are committed to the brave new world of cost-cutting and competition. But the politics of the workplace are muddied by events in the personal lives of the protagonists, and when sexual tension is added to the mix, the outcome is unpredictable.

Richard’s third novel, ‘Letters and Secrets’ was published in August 2013. Set in England in the Jubilee summer of 2012, three couples living in different parts of the country await the celebrations with varying degrees of enthusiasm, hostility or indifference. Derek Bailey, in his 60s, has a secret past linked to a tragic event that happened 24 years before. He starts to write a series of letters to Marcus, a young man whom he has never met. The secrets revealed in the letters began to erode the fragile relationships of all three couples, for even Derek is not immune to the destructive potential of what he is writing.

Richard’s fourth novel entitled ‘Tired of London’ was published in May 2016.  This is a story of six former friends, reunited after 40 years, who embark on an extended pub-crawl through central London. Their reunion is brought to an abrupt end by a series of incidents which threaten the hopes they had of reconnecting with the past and each other.
The author explores the themes of friendship, ageing, the changes in English society over the past half-century, and the alienation of the baby-boomer generation from a world which acknowledges no debt to the time of their youth.


“Friends Disunited” by Richard Ayres is available in paperback and e-book from Amazon UK. It’s also available from Amazon US.

Press/Media Contact Details:

Contact:  Darin Jewell (Richard Ayres’ literary agent)
Managing Director
The Inspira Group Literary Agency
London, UK
tel. UK +208 292 5163

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