LIFE AS I KNOW IT by Melanie Rose


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Rose’s U.S. debut employs a lightning strike to relocate her heroine in another woman’s body.

Strolling with her terrier near her flat in Epsom Downs, 28-year-old Jessica Taylor is instantly drawn to fellow dog walker Dan Brennan. Seconds later, she’s hit by a thunderbolt of a different kind, and revives at the hospital in the flesh of Lauren Richardson, wife of orthodontist Grant and mother of four. Jessica is even more bewildered when Lauren’s body goes to sleep and Jessica finds herself in another hospital, greeted by her own name. Both women, she learns, were struck by lightning at approximately the same time several miles apart, but while Jessica’s injuries were minor, Lauren’s heart stopped and it took doctors 40 minutes to resuscitate her. Her consciousness appears to have vanished, leaving Jessica’s to alternately occupy two bodies. When Lauren sleeps, Jessica wakes up back in her own life; night for Lauren becomes day for Jessica and vice versa. (Confused yet? The bizarre logistics somehow read plausibly.) As Lauren, Jessica quickly discovers all was not well in the affluent Richardson household. Her two daughters and twin boys, including learning-disabled Teddy, were consigned to various nannies and led strictly regimented lives; the old Lauren was a fastidious fashionista. Horrified by Grant’s increasingly menacing amorous overtures, Jessica/Lauren learns that Lauren is about to put Teddy in an institution and leave with her lover. (The lover, baffled by the change in plan, begins stalking her.) She finds herself growing attached to the children, who in turn appreciate their “new” mummy’s child-friendly household: She allows fries for lunch, a sandbox, playground equipment, a rabbit and a guinea pig. Meanwhile, back in her own life, Jessica realizes Dan is “the one.” But how can she tell him about her other identity, particularly when his late mother suffered from multiple-personality disorder?

Ignore the junk science and enjoy the pleasing conceit that ends with a genuinely surprising twist.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-385-34399-2
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2009