Georgia and Alice have seen each other through the tribulations of marriage and motherhood, becoming the best of friends, but can their relationship survive the deepest betrayal?
McCleary’s (A Simple Thing, 2012, etc.) novel opens with Georgia Bing abandoning her newborn son in the hospital. The events leading to that act are told in multiple flashbacks, alternating between Alice’s and Georgia’s perspectives, a strategy that unfortunately slows the action to a sluggish pace. A successful baker, Georgia is happily married to John, a brilliant chef, whose smoldering eyes caught her attention at first glance. Raised by a vivacious but neglectful single mom, Alice found love and security with Duncan, a lawyer who recently quit his posh partnership to work for a nonprofit. Desperate for a second child, Georgia has tried every fertility treatment. Alice is keenly aware of the sad irony that Georgia, a woman so perfect for motherhood that she could be a baby whisperer, cannot conceive. After learning that Georgia’s younger sister is pregnant and cannot donate an egg, Alice offers Georgia her own eggs, a gift that sets a course for joy and heartbreak. Meanwhile, Alice’s and Georgia’s teenage daughters are embroiled in a bullying incident, which Duncan does not worry about and Georgia (with her high-risk pregnancy) should not worry about. So, Alice begins to navigate the murky waters of teenage drama, and she finds herself confiding in a man who offers a sympathetic ear. Supportive conversations lead to irresistible attraction. Soon, Alice has put everything in jeopardy, and she can’t even turn to Georgia for help. Nor can Georgia turn to Alice when she discovers something that challenges her ability to love the child she tried so hard to conceive.
McCleary’s richly drawn characters face intriguing challenges, yet the tale lacks momentum.