Laura Pedersen, Author . Random $13.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-345-46191-9

Pedersen's third novel (Beginner's Luck ; Going Away Party ) takes a darkly comic look at a serious subject. After being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, 55-year-old Hayden MacBride decides to take control of his situation by plotting his final days. An irrepressible Scotsman now living with his daughter, Diana, and her 11-year old son, Joey, in Brooklyn, Hayden crashes funerals and stockpiles suicide pills ("they can fell a rhino in five minutes," his dying friend, who made them, whispers) in preparation. Hayden's approach changes, though, when he meets a kindred spirit who is railing noisily against the injustice of her inoperable lung cancer. Her name is Rosamond Rogers, and she's the exact opposite of Hayden's beloved late wife. But Hayden takes a shine to her, and convinces her to ditch the hospital and join him and Joey at a baseball game, where he discovers that she's a nun. And so begins an unlikely romance. Challenged by her sudden loss of faith ("I've prayed all my life and now this ," she wails), Rosamond decides that she can't return to the convent. Hayden invites her to live with him and, implausibly, she accepts. The unlikely piles upon the unconvincing, when Bobbie Ann, the prostitute next door, acts as a relationship counselor to a priest, who, with a little prodding from Hayden, decides to change careers and court Diana. If readers can suspend their disbelief—which might be hard—they'll find Pederson's latest offers many funny, tender and bittersweet moments. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 12/22/2003
Release date: 12/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-0861-1
Hardcover - 549 pages - 978-0-7862-6430-8
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 251 pages - 978-0-345-47195-6
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