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A London boutique owner on the cusp of turning 40 finds herself seized by the maternal instinct in British actress Clune’s sarcastic, forced debut.

Every year, Amy Stokes’s motley group of friends throws a birthday party for her, although this year, the owner of Precious Little Darlings, Amy’s successful “baby kitsch” store in Chelsea, is feeling desperate at age 39. Despite making good money, and having become “the darling of the chattering breeding classes,” Amy wonders: Where is her adult life? And where are her children, when all her friends are getting pregnant? Events transpire to tenderize Amy to become a mother: She accidentally runs over her own sweet dog, Germaine, and, while tottering home from the pub one night, finds a week-old baby left crying in a bin outside her apartment. But the novel’s plot does not pivot on the abandoned infant. In proper chick-lit fashion, it is propelled by Amy’s need to find a qualified sire, and, over the course of several months, she decides to sleep with a different, suitable man at ovulation time. Briefly, an attraction is sparked for the widowed OBGYN she meets at the hospital where she takes the infant to be checked and identified, although Joe has two frolicsome twin daughters, and Joe and Amy’s dates are awkward. In the meantime, Amy attends a Mensa singles mixer because she imagines she’ll find there a brilliant mind to be her child’s father. Instead, at her favorite Wheelbarrow pub, she lusts after a courier with a great body, Stu, though he doesn’t show up for the actual date. Next, there is a handsome father she meets in the park, whose passel of children harass Amy on their first dinner at his house. . . . At last, Joe reappears in her shop—did we ever doubt him?

Clune turns every predicable cliché possible, but it’s a mildly entertaining read, with a dollop of British appeal.

Pub Date: Aug. 3rd, 2006
ISBN: 0-399-15366-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2006