Two London sisters hash out their troubles in this fourth novel from Maxted (Behaving Like Adults, 2003, etc.), champion of issue-orientated chick-lit.
She’s covered anorexia and date rape; now Maxted turns her attention to babies—wanting them, adopting them, losing them by miscarriage. Though Cassie and Lizbet are as close as can be, they couldn’t be more different. Younger Cassie is a high-powered barrister with a sense of entitlement that would be infuriating if she didn’t work so hard (for those lovely clothes, the Merc, the posh house) and charm so well. Lizbet is of more relaxed, with a messy house that she and boyfriend Tim cannot afford, an admittedly silly job at the soft-core Ladz magazine and a general desire to please, and to be pleased by everything bright and yummy. When Lizbet finds she is pregnant, she’s horrified, then delighted. When the couple breaks the news at Friday Sabbath dinner, all are pleased but Cassie, who wavers between avoidance and seething rage. Unbeknownst to the family, Cassie and husband George (a loser mama’s boy if ever there was one) have been trying to conceive for a year. Cassie reveals even more heartache—at 13, her parents revealed that she was adopted. The three kept it a secret, but Cassie has lately been searching for her birth mother, who recently died. Soon Cassie’s jealousy becomes a moot point—Lizbet has a miscarriage and her life begins to fall apart. Lizbet discovers a taste for alcohol (“Jews don’t drink, its ridiculous!” warns her icy mother), then Lizbet forces perfect Tim out of her life. And she loses her job. Cass has it only slightly better—she’s pregnant, but just as she’s decided to divorce George, he wants to sue her for custody. The sister’s problems with their partners, their parents and all things related to babies are trotted out with good humor, genuine emotion and, unfortunately, oversimplification. But it’s the nature of this particular beast.
Maxted amiably delivers what’s expected.