A light and likable romantic comedy from England; perfect for readers who want literate, elegant fluff that won't insult their intelligence. When Joan Battram's husband leaves her for another woman, she refuses to descend into depression. She does slam down her emotional portcullis and retreat into a world of reading (Jane Austen, Laurence Sterne, Barbara Pym), solitude, and a bit too much vodka. But she's happy on her own, and to maintain this safe and self-contained state, she must fend off the advances of the phys. ed. teacher at the school where she teaches literature part-time--who wants to discuss D.H. Lawrence: Prophet of Sexuality; discourage her ex-husband--who eventually wants to reconcile--by claiming to have discovered she's a lesbian; and convince her parents to call off their planned visit by inventing a Nigerian family that's supposedly living with her. Joan's the type of person who expresses her new reclusive stance in the accents of eminently civilized skepticism: she deplores ""the way we call certain recognizable noises between ourselves Communicating and glory to the human race for being the only ones to cio it. . .what piffing self-congratulatory poppycock."" But Joan's aloofness can't hold up against the charms of actor Finbar Flynn, and she's soon head over heels. Though the reader will guess that Flynn is (mostly) gay long before Joan has a clue, the author does provide one less-expected plot twist before the curtain comes down. A breezily amusing and very English first novel that manages to stay upbeat while eschewing any sort of conventional happy ending.