In British Mansell’s 11th novel a lovable ditz approaches an empty nest, a new job and a pathological roommate with comic charm and a dash of courage.
Ginny didn’t think Jem beginning university would be so difficult. And when she drives three hours to Bristol on a lonely whim, she finds Jem happily absorbed in her new life at school with flatmates Lucy and Rupert and a job at the local pub. In response, Ginny decides to revamp her social life. In quick order, she finds a job waitressing at a posh restaurant and antiques center (owner Finn is moody and gorgeous) and puts an ad out for a roommate (she’s imagining chick flicks and nights together at the wine bar). Everyone who applies for the spare room is awful, but then Perry Kennedy shows up, handsome and flirtatious. When move-in day comes, he pulls a bait and switch, claiming the room was meant all along for his sister Laurel, who’s been a bit down since her breakup with Kevin, and would Ginny mind watching that Laurel takes all her meds. Before she can say no, Perry asks her out. So begins Ginny’s not-so-fabulous new life, caretaking sad-sack Laurel, dating Perry when she can pin him down and fretting over Jem, who she rightly suspects is sleeping with the obnoxious Rupert. When Perry and Ginny’s best friend, Carla, begin an affair, Ginny is heartbroken—not over slick Perry, but losing Carla is almost unbearable. Thankfully she has Jem and Gavin (her ex-husband, who was terrible at marriage but is quite nice as a friend) and Finn to cheer her up. In fact, Finn may be just the person to appreciate Ginny’s quirkiness, if only his ex didn’t show up expecting a reunion, perhaps ruining Ginny’s happy ending. But never fear, for the large cast of characters, bright days are ahead, even for mopey Laurel.
Mansell is like a Michelin-rated chef: She may use the same common ingredients, but under her sure hand the results are deliciously superior.