It is Eleanor, a Londonite retired from the National Health Service, marriage less and childless, who notices a couple of single moms in her neighborhood, decides to offer assistance, and thereby starts a Friday night social ritual. Three others soon join the group. Eleanor is their rock: she is imperturbable, largely unsentimental, and helps to supply coherence to these young women's lives.
But after several years, changes disrupt the group's harmony. Paula, one of the young unmarried mothers, is literally given an upscale loft by her guilt-ridden former lover. Then to top if off, she holds a Friday night gathering in her new place and brings in her new boyfriend - apparently a real catch. The enigmatic new man proves to be a very upsetting factor as he manages to insinuate himself into their lives by making various offers, both business wise and more romantically tinged. Suspicions and envy abound, the easy friendliness of the group disappears, and allies are sought to justify actions.
Each character is unique, largely understandable, and portrayed more or less sympathetically. Although the various children seem awfully bratty. The mere formation of the group, its long standing, and the ubiquity of the new man are perhaps a stretch. Furthermore, the recovery of each person is also a bit too tidy - no train wrecks. Nonetheless, the author has a keen eye for the difficulties and changes of life, and yet retains a certain optimism regarding our abilities to adjust and move on. The book is a quick read, however the flurry of interactions once the problems start almost become too much to follow.