This was a book that took me by surprise. I enjoy contemporary/woman’s fiction—I consider the genre entertaining and satisfying and a bit like a snack in between meals. But this was so much more—I found myself being a bit of a greedy guts and helping myself to an extra slice and pretty much snacking on it all day. I couldn’t put it down.
Set in Bath, it features wealth, fame, and all the trappings—good and bad—that go with it. Not only material trappings but attitudes and expectations that sometimes go with a privileged lifestyle. Ella lives in a large country home belonging to her wealthy grandmother with her husband, Matt, precocious daughter, Lucy, and her brother, Nick, and his family. Matt is a successful record producer with a promising new band to promote. An ex-lover comes back into his life poised to destroy his happy marriage to Ella, the new band’s future, and just about anything that stands in her way of trying to ensnare the man she let slip away 20 years previously. Precocious daughter Lucy learns the hard way that money isn’t necessarily the ticket to happiness. And Ella, poor Ella, has to cope with death, a marriage about to hit a potentially disastrous rock, establishing a new business, and watching her brother, a frustrated school-teacher, head hopelessly towards a mental breakdown.
The cast of this book is wide and varied. It’s hard to say who are the main characters because, as far as I’m concerned, a number vie for the lead roles. And this is one of the things I liked about this book. There are a good many characters who were strong, defined, and interesting; Marcie, the disillusioned ex-lover, is as scheming and immoral as Ella is kind, patient, and forgiving. The characters’ lives, past and present, are cleverly interwoven, and the result is a compelling, well-written, and easy-to-read novel. This certainly won’t be my only outing with this author.