Length: 226 pages
About: Downward spiral of surburban housewife
Style: 1st person
Where: England (London)
Eliza Peabody is one of those dangerously blameless women who believe they have God in their pocket. She is a modern-day Florence Nightingale, always up at the Hospice or the Wives' club; she is
too enthusiastic; she talks too much. Her concern for the welfare of her wealthy south London neighbours even extends to ingenuous, well-meaning notes of unsolicited advice under the door. It is just
such a one-sided correspondence that heralds Eliza's undoing. Did her letter have something to do with Joan's abrupt disappearance from number forty-one? What to make of the long absences of her
husband and Joan's, and of the two men's new, inseparable friendship? And why will no one else on Rathbone Road speak of Joan? As Eliza's own life seems to disintegrate, she finds that, despite the
pity and embarrassment with which her neighbours greet her, she is at last being drawn into their lives - although not in the way she had once fantasised about. This is a sharp, poignant and wickedly
funny tale of love, heartache and disillusionment
Joan I can assure you that (Charles) will never look at another woman. If he were the type for that - I may as well say it straight out, as I always do - if he were, as would be natural in a
healthy man of his age, to turn elsewhere for comfort, he would surely turn to me. I do tend to captivate men because of my looks. This is not conceit but fact.
British author Gardam, who won a Whitbread Award for this jigsaw puzzle of a novel, keeps up the suspense to the end, writing like a sorceress in the meantime. Though the book's last-page
revelations are bluntly abrupt, Gardam's portrait of an insanely imaginative woman in an elusive midlife crisis is impeccably drawn.
Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times Book Critic 28th September 2007
Not so good
Very mixed feelings about this book. At times I really enjoyed her humor but it couldn't hold me for long so I would put the book down for a while and then come back to it. I really didn't care
much for the characters and had a difficult time caring what happened to them. Am I glad I read it? Not particularly and probably wouldn't have finished it if it wasn't a selection for the book
www.goodreads.com Marj's review May 2012
About the author
Jane Mary Gardam OBE FRSL (born 11 July 1928) is an English writer of children's and adult fiction. She also reviews for The Spectator and The Telegraph, and writes for BBC radio.
Jane Gardam was born in Coatham, North Yorkshire to William and Kathleen Mary Pearson, and grew up in Cumberland and the North Riding of Yorkshire. At the age of seventeen, she won a scholarship
to read English at Bedford College, London now part of Royal Holloway, University of London (BA English, 1949}. After leaving university Gardam worked in a number of literary related jobs, starting
off as a Red Cross Travelling Librarian for hospital libraries, and later a journalist.
She was married to David Gardam QC and had three children, Tim, Kitty, a botanical artist who died in 2011, and Tom. Tim Gardam is the Principal of St Anne's College, Oxford.