Disappointing new novel from British writer Cheek (Pause Between Acts, 1988; Parlor Games, 1989), who here tries too hard to make her story--this time, about a brave single parent creating a new life for herself--rise above the banal stuff of pulp fiction. Spunky Pat Murray, 40-ish mother of Rachel, aged ten, has put her life and marriage on hold while waiting for Rachel to grow up. But when a good friend tells her to act before it's too late, Pat resolves to leave opera, singer husband Gordon, whom she had married because she was pregnant with Rachel, and strike off on her own. Gordon, a gutless tightwad, is not happy with the news; nor is young Rachel. But Rachel is soon mollified by the purchase of a lugubrious dog, Brian, whom Pat hopes will be some sort of father-figure for Rachel. Brian, who turns out to be as wimpy as Gordon, also plays a rather contrived part in the plot. For a while Pat is content to be on her own, away from Gordon--who actually isn't bad as villains go. She finds a part. time job and continues her role as supermom; but as Rachel happily adjusts to the change, Pat begins to realize that there's a gap in her life: She needs a man, and in tree romance fashion she finds and--after some well-meant help from friends and a mildly comic confusion about his marital status--gets him. And there it is--another triumph for plucky and relentlessly cheerful womanhood. Cheek tries to redeem her trite story with witty comments on the war between the sexes and the life of the single parent, but somehow it's all too jolly, too forced, and too familiar. Her characters, who ate no less pedestrian than her plot, do little to help.