A bittersweet romance between two lonely 40-year-olds who were once teenage lovers.
For nine years, Susannah has lived an undemanding life with Douglas in London, but it’s missing a lot: passion, commitment, children and, Susannah is beginning to think, love. At her brother’s quaint village wedding, Susannah bumps into Rob, her teenage boyfriend, the man not even her first husband could compare to. After pleasantries they part, but memories of their relationship begin to haunt Susannah, and they exist in stark contrast to the everyday tedium she shares with Douglas. Worse than the domestic humdrum is that his three children are often in her care, but Douglas has made it clear that she is neither their mother nor friend, which leaves her as little more than housekeeper when they visit. Susannah is isolated in their home and so retreats to recollections of her youth and those almost forgotten dreams of true love and a houseful of children. She and Rob experienced the kind of teenage passion that is familiar but seems extraordinary, that perfect expression of love, blossoming sexuality and boundless hope. As she relives her first love, the other constant of her youth, best friend Amelia, is struck with cancer. It seems nothing is right, and then the unexpected changes Susannah’s life—Rob calls and asks to meet. Retired from the RAF and now living in London (his new wife Helena is stationed in Afghanistan), Rob and Susannah begin meeting casually to reminisce, seeking out quiet corners of museums to talk, but soon enough they are in love again. What to do? Do they deserve happiness more than Douglas and Helena? Are they meant to be? Love is finally tested when Helena returns from the war injured.
Noble conforms to the conventions of contemporary women’s lit—the struggle to balance friends, career, romance and babies—yet still delivers a poignant romance in which the ideals of young love confront the grimmer realities of an adult world.