VANITY FARE by Megan Caldwell


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Can a 40-year-old divorced mom find happiness with a rich, dashing pastry chef? Surprisingly not, in this pleasing debut of single parenthood, temp jobs and literary desserts.

Molly’s story is sadly familiar: While helping her husband, Hugh, through law school, Molly put her career on hold and then gave it up entirely when Aidan was born. Now that Hugh has run off with a younger woman and lost his job with an investment bank, Molly is without child support, health insurance or much of a future. Thankfully, her friend John throws some copy-editing work her way, but when he calls with a bigger project, it may be the thing to re-establish her career. Celebrity chef Simon is opening a bakery across from the New York Public Library and needs a clever theme to tie the world of fatty delights to old, fat novels. Molly barely hears the assignment, mesmerized as she is by Simon’s green eyes, thick hair and roguish charm. And he’s flirting with her. In a British accent. Molly is soon coming up with pithy dessert names—A Room of One’s Scone, A Raisin in the Bun, Tart of Darkness (the menu descriptions begin each chapter)—allowing her love of punning to finally pay off. Too bad she has to work with Simon’s American partner, Nick, a bad-tempered businessman who seems permanently disappointed in Molly. As she juggles work, Aidan (she’s the kind of real-world mom whose parenting includes a few too many hours of TV mixed with liberal bribes of Pokémon) and now her bankrupt mother, who has moved in, Molly tests the dating waters with Simon. Simon may be hot, but it turns out he is also obnoxious, self-centered and controlling. Molly’s friends encourage her to sleep with him anyway, but she’s beginning to have feelings for Nick, who is not as forbidding as he seemed.

Caldwell’s light intrigues and bevy of supporting characters cast an old-fashioned spell on her modern Brooklyn romance.

Pub Date: Dec. 26th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-218836-6
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2012


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