Books by Juliette Mead

INTIMATE STRANGERS by Juliette Mead
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 1, 1996

A well-paced, if somewhat superficial, story about two contemporary couples who, along with their children, set out to exchange houses for the summer and end up swapping more than they bargained for. Maggie and Oliver Callahan live with their two children, Lily and Arthur, their three dogs, and their nanny in a rambling house in Wiltshire, England. Oliver is a journalist for the Daily Telegraph with a philandering lifestyle, while Maggie is a freelance writer. A flirty Christy McCarthy, her lawyer husband Gabe, and their son Jake split their time between their spacious home in Oak Ridge, North Carolina, and their beach house in Ocean's Edge. Both families live relatively charmed lives—full of social engagements and frequent dinner parties. Yet both are itching for a change. As luck has it, they hook up through the Worldwide Home Exchange Club Directory, hit it off on first contact, and agree to swap houses for eight weeks during the summer. But before the Callahans even leave home for their holiday, their marriage is on shaky ground. Their sojourn in the South, while relaxing, does little to patch things up. Meanwhile, once ensconced in the Callahans' home in Wiltshire, Christy's boredom with her husband reaches its limit. After a chance phone call between Christy and Oliver, Christy uncovers an unfinished draft of a novel called A Sad Affair in Oliver's study and convinces herself that she's in love with him. So when he happens to pop back into town, the stage is set for entanglements. While wife-swapping theoretically went out with the '70s, British-American writer Mead updates the notion in an entertaining way, though at times sacrificing credibility in favor of plot turns. The characters, barely differentiated in the beginning, begin to emerge more clearly as the story develops. Mead's second novel, but first to be published here, finally hits its stride midway through, ultimately delivering a satisfying read—if with an all-too-neat ending. (Literary Guild alternate selection) Read full book review >