cover image Turning Thirty

Turning Thirty

Mike Gayle, . . Downtown, $13 (357pp) ISBN 978-0-7434-7765-9

Brit Matt Beckford and girlfriend Elaine agree, one evening in their Brooklyn apartment, that while they love each other, they're no longer in love, and break up. Reassessing as his 30th birthday looms, Matt arranges to relocate to Australia and decides to show up at his parents' doorstep in England to kill the three months until he's needed at his new job. A good deal of time is spent on philosophizing, punctuated by hand-wringing transcontinental e-mail exchanges with Elaine (who works at a big-shot PR firm and worries over the time spent e-mailing Matt). Matt ends up reuniting with his old high school gang, including onetime friend-with-benefits Ginny. Soon, he's wondering if he should spend the rest of his life with her... and Elaine decides to visit. On one level, this reads like straight chick lit, with stock characters and familiar entering-adulthood coupling situations. But Gayle, author of Dinner for Two and two other U.K.-only titles, gives Matt's first person nice twists of out-of-touch unreliability, and makes Elaine, as suddenly forlorn e-mailer, comic. Readers who have lived beyond 30, or even 25, will know instantly that most of their self-justifications are BS—just as all the to-ing and fro-ing is inevitable—and smile to themselves. (Nov.)