Rebecca Gregson, Author . St. Martin's/Dunne $24.95 (312p) ISBN 978-0-312-31041-7

On their way back from a wedding, four old friends just miss being killed in a terrible train wreck. Their narrow escape makes them take stock of their lives, and as this rambling first novel begins, they decide to give up their London jobs and move together to the Cornish countryside. Emmy, single mother of eight-year-old Maya, has inherited a Cornish manor house called Bodinnick; Sita, her husband, Jonathan, and their three children move into one upstairs suite, and Niall, Emmy's one-time lover, moves into another. Gregson is sparing with introductory detail, so it is some time before all the various relationships spring into focus, but once they do, the novel gains momentum. Despite the characters' determination to exchange stress for bucolic contentment, troubles lurk. Competent Sita, a doctor, finds work in Cornwall, making unemployed Jonathan feel insecure. Their children—hostile 13-year-old Jay, skittish nine-year-old Asha and baby Lila—are a handful. Meanwhile, Emmy is realizing she isn't over Niall—which is unfortunate, since Niall has taken up with Kat, a bitchy model who visits on the weekends. Niall isn't Maya's father, though he wishes he were, and the mystery of her paternity adds another layer to the story. This is less an escapist fantasy than a sprawling domestic drama, but readers willing to piece together the various relationship puzzles (and navigate the Briticisms) will enjoy Gregson's story of a group of friends struggling valiantly to make their communal experiment work. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-1-250-08990-8
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