This sequel to The Wednesday Sisters (2008) follows a second generation of sensitive friends as they travel to a cottage in England’s Lake District to uncover secrets and bond, as Clayton’s female characters are wont to do.
Asha, a 40-ish lawyer also called Hope by her friends, has come to the cottage where her mother, Allison, an unpublished writer of children’s stories about animals, spent a lot of time before her recent death. Asha is accompanied by Anna Page, a 51-year-old heart surgeon and the daughter of literary editor Kath; and 48-year-old librarian Julie, the daughter of Linda and sister of recently deceased Jamie. Each woman has issues: Asha, whose maternal grandparents had nothing to do with her because her father was Indian, is facing a crisis in her marriage to Kevin, who wants to start a family; never married Anna Page loves to play matchmaker for her friends, and even her mother, but has always avoided commitment/intimacy herself, probably because she was scarred by her father’s long-term adultery; grieving Julie has been having an affair with Jamie’s widower. In England, whiny Asha, who resents drama queen Anna Page’s closeness to Allison, finds Allison’s journal in which Beatrix Potter figures prominently, as if the dead author were still alive—passionate appreciation of Beatrix Potter is required to enjoy this novel. Asha also discovers both Allison’s secret about her own heritage and her secret relationship with wealthy neighbor Graham. Meanwhile, Anna Page manipulates bookish, guilt-ridden Julie into a seemingly unlikely relationship with boatman Robbie, who is really a poet from Ireland on his own secret mission concerning his dead wife. Anna Page, who has a tendency to hand nice men over to others and keep jerks for herself, also tries to set up her visiting mother with Graham. But the men, handsome and sensitive as they may be, are really not the point, since the message is that these women solve each other’s problems and know each other best.
Contrived and convoluted in effecting feel-good spirituality.