Growing up in her perfect sister’s shadow left Jane Taylor with a chronic case of underachiever’s paranoia. She’s only an assistant editor, deluged with the unwanted and unsolicited manuscripts addressed to her superiors at a London publishing company. And she’s only living with a self-centered stockbroker, not engaged to him. When, oh when, will anyone ever pay attention to her? Getting her period a week late is the inspiration for a brilliant but bizarre way to get noticed: pretend she’s pregnant, which she does. All those who ignored her for so many years are suddenly falling all over themselves to open doors, bring her a cuppa, listen to her whining about minor aches and pains—oh, it’s heaven. Her gay confidant and upstairs neighbor David, a veteran of the Israeli Army, points out gently that there will be hell to pay in about nine months, but Jane doesn’t care. This is better than love, an emotion she has never actually experienced, even though she tells herself that that could happen any day now (“Birds do it. Bees do it. Even Israelis with hairy knees do it”). Didn’t Trevor, the putative father of her fictitious fetus, say he’d do the right thing? That must mean he’s going to pop the question, not just change the catbox (see entry under Toxoplasmosis in What To Expect When You’re Expecting, her new bible). Yes, he’ll marry her, Trevor says impatiently—after the baby is born, if it doesn’t have two heads. His hasty departure with a bulging suitcase forces Jane to turn to sympathetic friends and family, who have no idea they’re being duped. A pregnancy pad swiped from a Harrods’s dressing room helps her continue to fool them all. But Jane has to make the “little one” disappear when she finally meets the man of her dreams. He won’t want to raise an imaginary child—will he?
Wonderfully funny debut with a fine sense of the absurd and a flair for comic characterization.