Single mother falls for someone else’s husband, in British author Alliott’s US debut.
Beloved Ned died en route to the birthing room, crashing into a lorry and departing this world just as their newborn son entered it with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck (little Max was simply blue, imagine that). After four years of consuming loneliness, alleviated only by the commonsensical support of her dearest friend and stints at her mother’s antiques shop in Portobello Road, isn’t it time Lucy allowed herself a little fun? So what if the fun happens to be married to another woman? Charles, a writer of some renown for the BBC (worthwhile programmes, darling), is so extraordinarily attractive, and his wife is apparently a religious fanatic. How appalling; no wonder he’s forced to look elsewhere for female companionship. Lucy is fed up with being conspicuously noble and inwardly forlorn. She deeply regrets her decision to move out to the country with Ned’s ghastly parents, who keep his cricket bats on the walls of their splendid mansion and chat about him as if he were still alive. She has to talk to someone, and why not Charles? She does experience teeny-tiny twinges of conscience, but after all, everyone sleeps with everyone else sooner or later these days, and it doesn’t mean too terribly much, does it? A comic tryst in Charles’s London apartment, however, goes dreadfully awry when his eight-year-old daughter appears. The only answer to her what-are-you-doing question is, well, wrestling. Up pop those bloody doubts again, running around the edge of Lucy’s consciousness like alcoholic hedgehogs at a garden party. Hugely annoying. And her unspeakably dreary mother-in-law is making all sorts of wild accusations and generally behaving badly. Is it possible that Charles has misled her, perhaps even exaggerated his wife’s religious fervor?
Brittle and talky.