In the Bridget Jones tradition, young singles in London conquer self-esteem problems before finding true love: a witty if predictable fourth novel from Keyes (Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, 1999 etc.).
Katherine, Tara, and Fintan moved to London together from their small Irish hometown and have remained best friends into their early ’30s, even though they seem to have little in common. Overly self-controlled Katherine comes across as an Ice Queen. In fact, that’s her less-than-flattering nickname at the advertising firm where she is an accountant. When a fellow worker gently flirts with her, Katherine is so afraid of her own feelings that she accuses him of sexual harassment. Tara is Katherine’s opposite: desperate for affection, she clings to her boyfriend Thomas despite his consistently rude and unpleasant behavior. Softhearted Tara also eats compulsively. (Keyes perfectly captures the overweight overeater’s mindset.) Only Fintan, who is gay and in the fashion industry, natch, has found happiness and true love with Sandro, “the Italian Pony” (he’s too small to be a stallion). Then Fintan becomes seriously ill. It’s not AIDS, but with a cancer that requires intensive chemotherapy. Fintan’s mother and brothers arrive from Ireland and stay in Katherine’s apartment, disrupting her perfect order, while Thomas refuses even to accompany Tara to the hospital. Possibly near death’s door, Fintan exacts promises from his friends to bring some happiness into their lives. He wants Tara to dump the awful Thomas and Katherine to take a chance with her office suitor, the charming and genuinely nice Joe Roth. Meanwhile, their very sophisticated Swedish friend Liv falls madly in love with Fintan’s very unsophisticated older brother Milo, a farmer who has never seen an escalator until now. Will Tara leave Thomas and get back to a size eight? Will Katherine cheat herself out of her big chance for romantic happiness? Will Fintan recover? Will Milo move back to the farm?
No surprises, but a pleasant read.