From Publishers Weekly
The prolific Buchan (Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman) paints an achingly touching portrait of a marriage and family in crisis, hobbled by economic recession and long-buried emotions. For middle-class Londoners Annie and Tom Nicholson--she's a hospital administrator, he's a BBC exec --the abrupt departure of their eldest daughter, Mia ("I won't be forgiving you and Dad anytime soon," she writes), exposes more than the fissures between parents who've drifted apart. It puts unbearable strain on Mia's twin, Jake, a single parent with a foundering business, and sister Emily, a struggling writer. This good-natured, misguided family stumbles haplessly toward a breaking point when Tom loses his job, and Jake, baby Maisie, and Tom's mum, Hermione, all move in. Suddenly, what had seemed a well-tended life becomes threadbare and crowded with shared disappointment, fear, and need. Here's a textured, layered story of love that builds on trust, founders on lies, and then finally discovers something to believe in. Buchan masterfully captures the Nicholsons' personal story with her richly drawn characters--and makes it reflect all of our own frazzled--and salvageable--lives. (Jan.)
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Tom and Annie are an unhappy, middle-aged British couple whose emotional and physical connection has dried up due to repressed resentments and secrets, both usual and unusual. Their three children are in various stages of independence, and Tom’s mother is in the early stages of dementia. When the economy starts to fail in 2008, Tom loses his job, and both his mother and son move home. His son’s marriage is also failing, and the contrast between the relationships is one of the novel’s most intriguing elements. Central to the couple’s unhappiness is their missing daughter, Mia, whose disappearance is at first treated so mysteriously that the reader has the feeling of having started the book in the middle. As the scenes shift between past and present, the trajectory of a marriage is effectively illustrated. Several very recent novels, including Lynn Schnurberger’s The Best Laid Plans (2011) and Carol Edgarian’s Three Stages of Amazement (2011), use the current economic collapse as a starting point for looking at modern marriage. Like chick lit and mommy lit, perhaps the trend will soon deserve its own name: recessionist lit. --Marta Segal Block