cover image Inconceivable


Ben Elton. Delta, $12.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-385-33465-5

Despite their repeated efforts, Sam and Lucy Bell, the loving yet infertile protagonists of British comedian Elton's (Popcorn) romantic comedy, cannot conceive a baby. When Lucy decides that their childlessness is at least partly due to the stress brought on by their efforts to conceive, she insists that they each keep diaries, to privately sort out their thoughts and emotions. The two diaries tell the story, with often hilariously divergent perspectives on the couple's reproductive struggle. Yet sperm tests, full-moon ""bonks"" on Primrose Hill, annoying New Age home remedies and Lucy's long-distance ""adoption"" of an endangered baby gorilla are not their only concerns. Sam, a frustrated would-be writer, is in the middle of a creative block, and he is also on the verge of losing his less-than-enthralling job as an executive at the BBC. Lucy, meanwhile, is being pursued romantically by a dashing but arrogant clientDshe's a film agentDand against her wishes, Sam is secretly using their troubles and diaries as inspiration for the screenplay he is finally writing. Despite his betrayal, Sam remains sweetly endearing. Elton captures the spirit of the modern bloke and the confusion that arises from a desire to be sensitive to one's partner's emotional needs while fulfilling traditional expectations of manhood. Laced with hip, witty asides, this he-said she-said comedy handily overcomes a somewhat sluggish start and manages to be both touching and laugh-out-loud funny. The book may receive some attention via the film Maybe Baby, based on this novel, directed by Elton and released in Australia this past August. (Dec.)