Did God like Job better than he does Meredith Rideout? So Meredith wonders--in this light, bright natter about the afflictions visited upon a peripatetic Canadian teacher and soap-opera scripter who has been unlucky in wedlock (and out) and mashed fiat by motherhood. Divorced at 28, Meredith only wants someone to watch over her, but amidst the ""odd balls and fainting robins"" in Ontario, she winds up with Nicholas--lovable, gorgeous, and an irresponsible slob. Alas, Nicholas is wed to Bridgie, a dreadful religious fanatic back in Ireland (she's said to resemble a black currant pudding). And when Meredith becomes pregnant, Nicholas is called to Ireland on a family matter and seems gone forever; so nice homosexual friend Kenneth gallantly marries Meredith during labor pains. Enter the ""miraculous"" infant Nickie, Nicholas returns (he had rather lost track of time), and there's an idyll with baby in the States. . . until Nicholas' fatal auto accident. Only then comes the first real boom of doom, as mad Bridgie appears, aiming to snatch little Nickie--a chase that will last over a decade, as Meredith and the kid flap hither and yon. Finally (Nickie is now 16 and rebellious) Kenneth and Meredith and friends close the dragnet on crazy Bridgie in Montreal; and there's even some hope at the fade-out for Meredith's marriage of convenience, since Kenneth inexplicably flips to hetero. No humor based on pinprick rebellions against the snippy gentility of certain marriage and religious conventions can survive very long without strain, but Branden's tale-of-woes is cheerfully punch-drunk with incident and snappily-gloved quips--enough to brighten a curlers-and-housecoat morning.