Unexpectedly pregnant at age 45, Susan Green finds her perfectly organized life turning upside down. And then her mother dies, leaving the family house to Susan’s ne’er-do-well brother, Edward, for as long as he wants to live in it.
Susan has spent her life trying to keep messy feelings at bay. An attorney by training, she’s chosen to avoid the troublesome job of looking after actual people’s problems and instead works as a data analyst in London. Even her love life is carefully choreographed: Instead of dating, she sensibly answered a lonely hearts ad from a well-groomed, well-employed gentleman looking for a companion, and for 12 years, she and Richard spent each Wednesday visiting art exhibits and having no-strings-attached intimate encounters. Once pregnant, Susan ends the relationship, not willing to risk her independence. Yet her mother’s will cracks open Susan’s carefully controlled emotions. Outraged that her drunken brother—the same brother who siphoned off all her mother’s affection and humiliated Susan in grade school—can live in the house for as long as he likes, Susan decides to take him to court to force him to sell it and split the proceeds with her. But unearthing evidence that he inappropriately influenced their mother proves challenging. In this, her debut novel, Haywood concocts a delightful collection of characters to lead Susan out of her emotionally cloistered life. Boozy villain Edward pushes her while his friend Rob, a charmingly disheveled landscape architect, finds himself falling for her as he tries to run interference. Susan also befriends her upstairs neighbor, Kate, whose partner abandoned her with two small children. Haywood deftly twists and turns Susan’s investigation, so each conversation with her gregarious Aunt Sylvia and even her mother’s vicar reveals not only more about her mother’s will, but also more of the secrets she kept from Susan. With new friends Rob and Kate, Susan begins to let her defenses down, accepting real love for perhaps the first time.
A warm, witty portrait of a woman finally creating the family she deserves.