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From the nastily comic Barrowcliffe (Girlfriend 44, 2001), the perfect Hugh Grant vehicle about a too-clever-by-half Londoner who faces a stew of moral and emotional crises when he learns that both his fiancé and his much younger girlfriend are joyfully pregnant, thanks to him.

In his mid-30s, Dag has been living with Andrea for eight years when he finally proposes. Although they don’t spend much time together, he is reasonably confident of their love—and, besides, he’s ready to settle down like all his pals. But soon after the engagement is official, he meets and begins a highly charged affair with Cat, omitting to tell the 24-year-old journalist he’s committed elsewhere. When Andrea announces her pregnancy, Dag knows he should break off with Cat, but before he can, Cat makes her own maternity announcement. To complicate matters, Cat is having twins, and Andrea’s father is dying of cancer. Does Dag stay with Andrea, for whom he feels the greater responsibility and a genuine long-term affection, or go with Cat, with whom he is head over heels? Best friend and business partner Henderson, who’s in hiding from his dangerous ex-wife, isn’t much help. In fact, he may be competing with Dag for Cat’s affections. Finally Dag comes clean to Cat and returns to Andrea. Under the pretext of journalism—an article on pregnant professional women—Cat sets up an interview with Andrea. Desperate, Dag has their meeting secretly videotaped and learns that Andrea has been at least as unfaithful to him as he’s been to her. But before he can use this information to sort out his relationships, he’s beaten by thugs, and Henderson, apparently the intended victim, promptly disappears. So, coincidently, does Cat, at least until the babies start arriving—same day, same hospital. Barrowcliffe performs gymnastic feats of plotting to ensure happy endings for all.

The unrelenting cleverness gets tiring, although the one-liners frequently ring uncomfortably true.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-29146-9
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2002


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