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From the author of An Act of Love (1997), among others: a clear-eyed look at a friendship between two couples that almost implodes when a child becomes seriously ill and damaging secrets are revealed. Narrator Lucy West is married to Max and is the mother of 14-year-old Margaret and first-grader Jeremy. The Wests live in a small town, where Max is editor of the local newspaper, and life has mostly been good, but as Lucy begins her story, in June 1998, she’s suffering from panic attacks. She’s been offered a job with a prestigious ad agency in nearby Boston, and she fears that Max, who himself suffers from depression, might not be able to cope if she works full-time. As the summer progresses, Lucy finds she has to deal with even more disturbing problems, these detailed in chapters alternating with her recollections of the recent past. Lucy and Max are close friends with Kate and Chip Cunningham, parents of Matthew and Abby. The two women share confidences, their children are pals, the couples socialize and vacation together on Nantucket. As in all friendships, though, there are the inevitable moments of envy and competition. Lucy’s memories of the early years of the West/Cunningham bond reveal one especially fraught period. Lucy had a stillborn baby, and grieving Max ignored his wife, who found it hard to be friends with Kate when she gave birth to Abby shortly thereafter. A brief affair with Chip revitalized Lucy and her marriage; soon after, she was pregnant with Jeremy. But when Jeremy is diagnosed in August 1998 with cystic fibrosis, a genetically caused disease, and the doctor suggests Max be tested, Lucy has to admit that Chip could also be the father. Will her confession end not just her friendship with Kate but her marriage? Can love and loyalty endure . . . even barely? Plot-driven, yes, but there’s more than enough compensation in Thayer’s insights into the tangled webs woven by friendship. (Literary Guild alternate selection)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-20613-5
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1999


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