Leimbach bounces back from a disappointing second novel (Sun Dial Street, 1992) with this tart, witty tale of a very pregnant Boston novelist whose handsome, hopelessly neurotic husband abandons her in her seventh month. ``I always compare love and houses—there's something essentially the same about them,'' explains Meg Howe, our frazzled, 37-year-old narrator. ``A new marriage is almost always followed by a new house and that same house is sold like old junk when the marriage collapses. . . . Want to know what walls would say if they could talk? Well, they'd say don't paper me in brocade, but they'd also say, Marry in a bad market, divorce in a good one.'' Meg, who has been left not only pregnant but holding a very large loan and living in an apartment she's unable to sell, knows what she's talking about. Though she realizes she should have anticipated husband Andy's dark-of-night disappearance (it took him five years of false starts finally to marry her), she can't quite accept the fact that he's really left. Humiliated, fat, unable to concentrate on the novel she's writing, Meg struggles through revenge fantasies, childbirth classes, and stoic attempts to resolve her real-estate crisis. Her two best friends, former college roommates, help keep her spirits up when not dealing with their own troubles. But a more effective distraction arrives in the form of charismatic Theo Clarkson, Meg's former boyfriend, now a disgustingly successful bestselling novelist, who buys the house Meg's apartment is in and enlists her help in refurbishing it. Theo also steps in heroically as Meg's birth coach. After baby Frances is born, Andy reappears, and Meg, flush with the power and joy of new motherhood, is in the enviable position of choosing which of two very attractive men will become her daughter's dad. In the romance department, at least, the market is very high. Smart, sharp, and always entertaining. Leimbach exhibits a memorable comic voice.
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