Single British mum begins writing career on the sly while cleaning other peoples’ houses.
Self-deprecating and witty, aspiring writer Beth Marsten is bitter over the boyfriend who left her and her little daughter Ellie for another woman, annoyed with her well-intentioned parents who wish she would get a proper job and grumpy over the fact that she has to work as a part-time cleaning lady to make ends (barely) meet. Beth juggles a disparate group of clients ranging from sweet octogenarian Dottie to the reptilian Oliver—a young man with too much time on his hands who is always trying to coax her into a daytime quickie. Then there is Alex Chapman. Beth has never met the inhabitant of the “Single Young Executive” apartment, but she is intrigued by how eerily spotless the place is. She also notices his barely used computer, and figuring that since there is so little work to do, and his mother already pays her to be there, she might as well take advantage of the technology and do some writing. She begins working on a television script, carefully erasing each day’s work after saving it onto a disk. She eventually gets caught and discovers that Alex Chapman not only exists, but that he is a total dish. He is also married, but only—he claims—“on paper.” Complications ensue, as Alex passes along Beth’s work to his literary agent wife, who sees Beth’s potential and wants to represent her. Alex and Beth then give in to their powerful attraction, in all its messiness, and she is forced to make some very grownup decisions. Norton (Body and Soul, 2004, etc.) is careful not to sugarcoat Beth’s choices, but the heroine’s happy-ever-after, however inevitable, comes on a bit too quickly.
Quirky and complex heroine, in a story that never reaches its comic or dramatic potential.