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by Bridget Asher

Pub Date: Aug. 19th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-385-34189-9
Publisher: Delacorte

In a darker-than-usual version of chick lit, an angry wife prepares for the death of her cheating husband, whom she still loves.

This debut from Asher (pen name of Julianna Baggott) introduces Lucy Shoreman, who recently left her considerably older husband, Artie, after he revealed he’d been unfaithful to her with three mistresses in four years. Now, six months later, Artie is dying of an acute heart infection and Lucy is back, only to learn that there were many more secrets (and women) in his life, including a grown-up, illegitimate son, John. Filled with conflicting emotions, Lucy enlists various women to help her through the ordeal of coping with Artie’s final few weeks. Her much-married mother will take care of the funeral arrangements; one of Artie’s exes will arrange the “parade of sweethearts” (visits from a sequence of his exes, intended partly to teach him a lesson) and Lucy herself will help unite Artie with John. This job—which includes a “Tour d’Artie,” taking John to places where Artie grew up, proposed, etc., in an attempt to display all sides of the man—includes some curiously flirtatious moments, surely inappropriate in the circumstances. Asher uses various diversions to pad out the pages, but we’re all waiting for Artie’s death, which arrives affectingly, with a dash of truth, forgiveness all around and the way cleared for Lucy’s future.

Although short on plot, this is a witty, oddly sweet curiosity with a thread of insight and a degree of promise.