The British Green, master of the career-girl novel (if your idea of a career girl includes Manolos and a Birkin bag) switches the lives of a pampered American housewife and a London magazine editor, with predictable results.
Thirty-five-year-old Amber Winslow seems to have it all: a McMansion in a Connecticut suburb, a walk-in closet filled with couture, two beautiful children and a doting husband. But of course life in—is it Stepford?—isn’t as rosy as it seems. Her Jamaican nanny is all but raising the children; Amber lives in a state of anxiety that one of the League ladies is besting her; and she has this nagging feeling that her whole life is a useless sham. Across the Atlantic, Vicky Townsley is also yearning for what she doesn’t have—a country home with kids, a big dog and a husband. At 35, she is the features editor at Poise! magazine and enjoys a glamorously hectic social life and a dishy friend (with benefits) who lives around the block. Thanks to a contest sponsored by the magazine, the two women swap lives for a month, bringing with them little more than a toothbrush and underwear. For both, the situation reaffirms that they really do love their life/family, but for Amber, there are some added realizations that the superficiality of her life is interfering with her sense of self. Good for Amber and Vicky and destination epiphany. The real question is whether the journey is enough for the reader—and it mostly is. Green skewers Connecticut suburbia with a gleeful relish, and she hits the right marks with sympathetic Londoner Vicky, a quirky, imperfect heroine who keeps a pair of fat pants at the back of her closet.
Clothes, bags, shoes, romance, self-acceptance—all we’ve come to expect and done well enough.