Books by Hazel Hucker

Released: Jan. 8, 1998

British writer Hucker's becoming a master at exploring the psyche of the independent-minded woman (A Dangerous Happiness, 1996, etc.)—and her examination here of the complex nature of female friendships produces yet another angle on the subject. Middle-aged, red-haired Polly Ferrison's friends think that she has the perfect life: two bright, attractive daughters, a challenging, satisfying job as a high-school history teacher, and a loving husband, Neville. But as it turns out, of course, appearances lie: Neville is actually a selfish, demanding, greedy, adulterous creep who's been conducting a sporadic 20-year fling with one of Polly's supposed best friends, Vanessa. Worse, he's in love with another woman (now pregnant by him), whom he wants to marry. A breakup with Polly is inevitable. When her four best friends from college—the vampy Vanessa, wealthy Candida, farmwife Mary, and career-woman Jane—hear the news, they're sympathetic (except for Vanessa, who's enraged that Neville hasn't chosen her), but they've all got troubles of their own: Candida married for money and is now in love with another man; Mary has a husband and children of her own, but Vanessa relies on her so much that it's almost as if she has another extra-needy charge. And driven Jane has finally met the man of her dreams, but she'll have to give up her career and move to Poland if she wants to stay together with him. At the story's opening, the surfaces of these women's lives haven't yet cracked, but circumstances soon plunge all four into a turmoil that teaches them, to varying degrees, that sometimes friendship is the only thing you can count on. The larger point, however, is that the modern woman has enough options, so that any choices she makes can be the right ones—if she believes in her own self-worth. A slight but ultimately satisfying read, less syrupy than much of this genre. Read full book review >
Released: July 11, 1996

British writer Hucker (Cousin Susannah, 1996) introduces a charismatic stranger into the lives of three women craving a shake- up in the rural English village of Abbotsbridge. Louise Bennett is a cosmopolitan at heart with a plum, hard- won job in London, where she is able to combine her love for scholarship with her knowledge of fine art and antiques. So when longtime boyfriend Simon Fennell proposes not just marriage but a move to Abbotsbridge, where he hopes to become a father ASAP, Louise is understandably of two minds: City life and career, or country life and family seem to be her options, and she's torn. Louise's friend Maggie Easton is thrilled with her own country living but has just lost her only daughter to spinal meningitis. Husband Jack is vehement—no more kids—but Maggie's emotional recovery is slow; with three sons, she's desperate for a girl. Middle-aged Brozie Hamilton, whose husband Hubert is dying of cancer and abusing Brozie in the process, feels exhausted and trapped. Hubert's heavy medication and general ill-temper turn him into a tyrant, and Brozie's a servant in her own home. Enter the dashing, mysterious Charley St. George, whose presence in the village promises to transform the lives of these three women in dramatically different ways, helping Louise reconcile her two worlds, giving Maggie the daughter she can't live without, and freeing Brozie from her prison/home. Fortunately, Charley's languid blond girlfriend Melody remains in the background as Charley works his magic; when the inevitable tragedy strikes, Louise, Maggie, and Brozie are prepared to face the world with newfound strength and the courage of their convictions. The standard mix of one part quaint British setting to three parts gushy romance, but Hucker knows her territory and has crafted a quietly charming second novel. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 14, 1996

An irrepressible heroine elevates a predictable storyline in this British novelist's American debut. It's 1794 in Abbotsbridge, England, and Susannah Trotter is in trouble of the worst kind. As the governess for the highly respected Bland family but also the granddaughter of a gentleman (her mother is the illegitimate daughter of a baronet and a relation of the esteemed Manningford family), Susannah has been allowed to study with the Bland's eldest daughter Fanny, a real lady. In fact, though her parents work a small farm, beautiful Susannah—who speaks French and quotes Shakespeare—could almost be mistaken for a woman of breeding herself; and when she meets the handsome James Manningford—heir to Abbotsbridge House and one of the most important men in the region—he falls for her immediately and makes love to her by a riverbank. When Susannah is pregnant after this single encounter, desperate measures are required: Since she knows James could never marry a governess, she traps Sedley Stacey, the just-arrived local curate, into marriage by seducing him and pretending her child-to-be is his. Life with the abusive, social-climbing Sedley, though, proves punishment enough for Susannah, who really loves James but must live with her decision for the sake of her own, her child's, and mostly James's status in the village. Despite their best intentions, Susannah and the still- single James begin a passionate, secret love affair that ends when Sedley becomes suspicious. By the close, however, thanks to a little help from James's sister Beatrice, who considers the distantly related Susannah not only her cousin but her friend, James and Susannah will finally get what they deserve: each other. With her charming, energetic portrayal of Susannah, Hucker injects a life-saving shot of adrenaline into what's really an 18th-century version of love thwarted/love regained. Read full book review >