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Ellie Summers' life is unravelling. Finding herself pregnant - and her sexy but idle boyfriend Rick less than enthusiastic about parenthood - she needs a plan. Fast.
Grace Soudley's life is also coming apart at the seams - her only security is the beautiful yet crumbling old house she was left by her godmother. But unless she can find a fortune, Luckenham House will disintegrate around her. When Ellie and Grace meet, the two very different women find they can help each other out.
Ellie needs a place to stay; Grace needs a lodger. Both of them need a friend. But then the disconcertingly engaging Flynn Cormack arrives on the scene, apparently determined to help.
And when Grace discovers some beautiful painted panels hidden behind the tattered dining-room curtains, the whole business of restoration starts to get serious...
Two nice Englishwomen recover from failed relationships, then begin good ones. Droopy Grace and energetic Ellie meet when Ellie (a jobless ex-art student) passes by Grace's lovely old Georgian home, Luckenham House, and offers to paint its portrait. Arranged around them are various not-so-nice characters: Ellie's boyfriend, Rick, who wants her to bring to an end her recently discovered pregnancy; Grace's husband, Edward, who has divorced her and taken all the furniture; Ellie's heartless parents, who won't give her a home when she leaves Rick; and Grace's pushy sister, who is jealous that Grace inherited Luckenham House while she only got some paintings. Grace soon invites Ellie to move in, and also offers shelter to Edward's troubled teenaged daughter Demi. Suitable men swiftly present themselves-stalwart Irish property-developer Flynn Cormack for Grace, and suave picture-restorer Randolph Frazier for Ellie, who turns up during the search for an advisor to help Grace evaluate two old painted panels recently found in the house. Selling the panels provides Grace with the funds to pay off the vast bills arising from the discovery of dry rot in her home. Fforde (Paradise Fields, 2004, etc.) blends interior design detail, traditional values and many cups of tea into a smooth and perky story, in which the romances and revelations are as clear as can be, although slow to come forth. Too much dithering on the part of Grace is resolved in a late-coming and unconvincing burst of decisiveness, but by the end, everyone has turned nice, helped along by a good dollop of money. Boilerplate chick lit. (Kirkus Reviews)
Number Of Pages: 480
Published: June 2005
Publisher: Random House
Dimensions (cm): 19.9 x 13.2 x 3.2
Weight (kg): 0.35