Cathy Kelly. S&S/Gallery, $16 trade paper (448p) ISBN 978-1-4516-1676-7

Kelly (Lessons in Heartbreak) finds some life in the familiar setup of strangers brought together by fate to deal with tough luck. Eleanor Levine, an Irish-born, New York–bred psychologist in the twilight of her life, heads to Dublin after her husband dies; Megan Bouchier, a famous actress, lands there after her fling with an older, married actor is splashed across the tabloids. Already living in Dublin's Golden Square are two additional souls in pain: Rae Kerrigan, who runs a charming tea room and mourns the baby girl she gave up four decades earlier, and teacher Connie O'Callaghan, whose loneliness is underscored when her younger sister and roommate gets engaged and quickly married. The four come together in a series of believable real-life ways, and as the stories intersect and their lives become intertwined, each woman—sure before meeting the others that life as they knew it was over—comes to believe that there is a purpose and a plan for everything. Given the familiar terrain, it would have been easy for Kelly to drift into cliché; what she has done instead is create a thoughtful panorama of four women doing their best to soldier on through tough times. (July)