THE STEPMOTHER by Carrie Adams


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In this sequel to The Godmother (2007), British author Adams coasts from chick lit to mother-hen lit.

Although Bea, 42, chose to break up her marriage to Jimmy, she still loves him. While they were married Bea worked as a journalist, but, with her mother’s financial help, she has been able to stay home with her three daughters since the divorce. Everyone with whom Bea has remained close, including Jimmy and his family, considers her a perfect mother, but overweight Bea is desperately lonely and unhappy. Just as she finds the courage to tell Jimmy she wants to try again, she learns about Tessa, Jimmy’s new love (Tessa calls him James). In her late 30s, Tessa is a slim and relatively glamorous record-company lawyer, but she’s also devoted to her friends’ children and less secure than she might appear. She assumes Bea is a superwoman/mom and struggles mightily to find a place for herself in James/Jimmy’s children’s lives. The younger two are emotionally open but 14-year-old Amber, torn by her mixed loyalties to her parents, resists. At first Bea wins readers’ sympathies and Tessa seems the interloper, but the roles become less clear cut as Tessa genuinely embraces the children while Bea embraces a “miracle diet” which consists of eating nothing while drinking to unconsciousness. Amber, who has begun an innocent romance with Tessa’s 17-year-old godson Caspar, covers for Bea until a crisis in Tessa’s parents’ lives brings Bea’s secrets out into the open. Tessa learns the truth behind Bea’s divorce: post-abortion guilt, offered as a less-than-convincing excuse for Bea’s alcoholism. Newly self-sacrificing Tessa sends James/Jimmy back to an already reformed Bea to sort out their relationship once and for all. Not to worry, he is quick to realize that there is “love” and then there is “in love.”

The platitudes and occasional preaching go down pretty smoothly thanks to Adams’s sharp but good-natured wit.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-123265-7
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2009


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