The author of the bestselling Just Between Us introduces us to four new special women in a warm and funny novel about facing change in our lives Do you know what you'll be doing next year? Nicole, Virginia, Hope and Sam all think they do. Hope will still be slogging it out as a working mum, snatching quality time with her children, and trying not to burn her husband, Matt's, dinner. Her sister, Sam, is going to be climbing to the very top as boss of a record label, turning heads and having her photo emblazoned on the business pages as the toughest, most brilliant music mogul around. Wild child Nicole reckons she'll still be partying with the girls, possibly snogging a guy here or there, and trying not to get fired for using the office phone to organize her social life. And grandmother Virginia will be affectionately teasing her beloved husband, Bill, for spending too much time on the golf course and not enough walking the dog or cutting the grass. But what if fate has other plans for them? Suddenly life threatens to change beyond recognition for the four women, and they each have to look deep inside themselves to find out what they really want if they are to survive the turmoil ahead. And they will discover that a sense of belonging, a loving family and good friends make all the difference.
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Cathy Kelly is the author of six other novels all of which were No. 1 bestsellers in Ireland, as well as reaching the Sunday Times top ten. SOMEONE LIKE YOU was the Parker RNA Romantic Novel of the Year. Cathy Kelly lives in Wicklow with her partner and their twin sons. She is currently working on her eighth novel.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Hope Parker let the shopping bags sit in a heap at her feet as she stood in front of the cookery books section. Her eyes flicked past Perfect Cakes, The Definitive Chinese Cookbook, Catering for Parties, and Easy Meals. A recipe book full of easy meals was not what she was looking for. They were all she ever cooked in the first place. No, she wanted a comprehensive and simple cooking book, something big, fat, and informative, full of explanations of what a bain-marie really was and precisely what you did with yeast and how you made it rise. That was all she wanted: a book that would finally explain how to cook something that didn't involve chicken pieces and a can of ready-made tomato sauce.
Her gaze moved past a massive advanced French cooking manual and she leaned closer to the shelves, trying to ignore the bookshop's lunchtime rush. Then she spotted it, a fat tome with bright gold writing on the spine: Cooking for Cowards: Become the Queen of Your Kitchen.
Queen of her kitchen? Yes, that was exactly what Hope wanted. No more ready-made lasagna and frozen-solid stuffed chicken dinners in tinfoil, but lots of home-cooked meals that would have Matt beaming from ear to ear, no longer able to tease that he never put on weight because she couldn't cook.
Hope pulled it free from the other books and stared at the cover, hoping there was no mention of the word advanced. There wasn't. Instead, there was a picture of an ordinary-looking woman standing smiling behind a veritable feast of glistening, delicious food.
Hope flicked inside and found an introduction that was funny and easy to understand, and made no mention of buying complicated utensils before you started. She couldn't afford lots of new pots and pans and strange things for chopping up herbs.
"Cooking really is easy," cooed the introduction. "If you're one of those people who've never had the chance to learn, then let me show you how, the easy way."
There was no implication that you had to be a twentysomething newlywed to be buying this book, no implication that thirty-seven-year-old women should be ashamed of themselves to be purchasing a cookery bible that included a section on how to buy meat.
Hope never bought meat from the butcher's. She never knew what to ask for or even what you'd do with rack of lamb if you got it. She bought her meat ready-packed from the supermarket where nobody could look down on you for not knowing what a gigot was.
"There's no need to be scared of buying meat," continued the introduction, as if the writer had read Hope's mind. "It's easy once you know how."
Sold. Hope collected her shopping, paid for the book, and hurried up to Jolly's department store, already lost in the fantasy of being a superb cook. Imagine the dinner parties they could have: Matt wouldn't have to entertain important advertising clients on his expense account in Bath's elegant restaurants anymore. Instead, he could bring them home, and she, dressed in something elegant but sexy, would waft out of the kitchen with the scent of crème brûlée clinging to her while jaded businessmen gobbled up melt-in-the-mouth things in delicately flavored gravy, asking her why she'd decided to work in a building society instead of starting up her own restaurant.
And Toby and Millie would love it. Well, when they were older, they would. They'd think that homemade chutney and made-from-scratch mayonnaise were the norm and would smugly tell their schoolmates that their mother was "the best cook in the world, so there!" Hope remembered this type of culinary boasting from her own school days. But she and her sister, Sam, had always stayed out of the "whose mother is the best cook" arguments, knowing that whatever things could be said about their aunt Ruth, that she was an excellent cook wasn't one of them. Hope wondered, as she often did, whether her mother had been any good at cooking. Aunt Ruth had never talked about things like that. Maybe Mum had been a wonderful cook. It might even be genetic: All Hope had to do was move beyond instant chicken sauces to discover that she was the next Escoffier.
In Jolly's, she got sidetracked in the women's department. She couldn't resist stopping a moment to finger a pretty floral skirt, running her fingers wistfully over the soft cotton with the delicate sprigged pattern of roses. In the middle of all the new season's dark wintry clothes, the rail of prettily patterned skirts stood out like a wildflower meadow in a landscape of muddy plowed fields.
Feeling the plastic grocery bags threatening to cut off the circulation to her left hand, Hope unhooked them from her wrist before indulging in a proper examination of the garment. The background color was the pale blue of delicate Wedgwood with tiny lilac flowers mingling with tiny raspberry pink ones. Hope sighed. This wasn't a skirt, it was a lifestyle. A lifestyle in which the wearer lived in a pretty cottage with lovely, well-behaved children, cats, maybe a rabbit or two, and an adoring husband who appreciated her. This woman sewed her own cushion covers, knew how to dry lavender, and could can fruits and vegetables instead of buying them from the supermarket. She didn't need a safety pin to hold the top of her skirt together and she never raised her voice at the children in the morning when an entire carton of milk was spilled all over said children's clothes, necessitating a complete change. No. This woman wore floral perfumes that came in old-fashioned bottles, never got angry with her children, and wafted around with a basket as she bought organic vegetables that still had bits of earth clinging to them. People would say things like, "Isn't she lovely? Wonderful mother, fantastic cook, have you tried her apple crumble? And she still manages to work..."
Yeah, right. And pigs might fly. Hope patted the skirt one last time and picked up her shopping. She wasn't Mrs. Floral Skirt and she never would be. She was Mrs. Tracksuit Bottom, whose two children were quite accustomed to her roaring, "Stop that right now or I'll kill you!" She never wafted anywhere -- difficult when you had a spare tire and stocky legs -- and she never talked to the neighbors long enough for them to have an opinion of her. Apart from the woman two doors up who let her dog do its business in Hope's garden, resulting in an unneighborly standoff one morning. And as for sewing cushion covers, she still hadn't managed to sew the button back on her work skirt and it had been held up with a safety pin for months. Although the good part of that was that the safety pin was of the big diaper variety and was more comfy than the constricting button had been. Thinking of work, she'd be terribly late getting back if she didn't get a move on.
She shook her head as if to rid it of the remnants of the idyllic floral-skirt fantasy and, collecting her shopping, hurried into the men's department and over to the ties. It took ages to find one she thought Matt would like: an expensive buttermilk yellow silk with a discreet pattern. Hope held the tie up against every shirt on the display; it looked lovely against the blue shirts and went particularly well with an azure striped one. She groaned in indecision.
Matt didn't go in for blue shirts much. The gray tie was more versatile, definitely, and cheaper, but Matt loved expensive things. He'd adored that ugly key ring his boss had given him one Christmas, purely because of the designer logo stamped into the leather. She held both ties up and squinted at them, dithering as usual.
Okay, the yellow it had to be. So it cost more than the coat she was wearing, but what the hell.
The woman behind the counter daintily placed the tie in a box. Perfectly coifed, she had lovely cared-for nails, Hope noticed, and her lipstick looked faultlessly applied, as if she'd just that minute rushed out from primping in the ladies'. Hope was conscious that her own windswept fair hair was dragged back in a ponytail and her morning lipstick a thing of distant memory.
Sales assistants invariably made her feel like an unkempt road warrior. She remembered a time when she herself was always beautifully groomed, those far-off days before the children, when giving herself a French manicure had been a prerequisite on Sunday evenings. These days, she spent Sunday evenings sweating over the ironing board, worrying about the week ahead, and trying to match socks from the enormous laundry pile.
"Is it a present?" inquired the saleswoman, her tone implying that there was no way someone like Hope would be coughing up for such an expensive tie otherwise.
"Yes," said Hope, stifling a wicked urge to say no, it was for her, she dressed up in men's clothes at the weekends and, actually, was looking for a partner to go with her on a Harley-Davidson Lesbian Day Out on Sunday.
Instead, she arranged her face into a polite expression. To be honest, there was no way she'd pay that much money for a tie otherwise. Even as a fortieth birthday present, it was still ridiculously expensive. The only consolation was that Matt would love it. It would go with the very sophisticated new suit he'd just bought and with his image, also highly sophisticated. The only unsophisticated part of the Matt Parker experience was Hope herself. Was that the problem? she thought with a pang of unease.
Matt hadn't been himself lately. Usually he was one of life's optimists, happy, upbeat. But for the past few months, he'd been listless and moody around the house, only content if they were doing something, filling their time off with endless activities. He didn't seem happy to sit and blob around on those rare occasions when the children weren't murdering each other. Edgy, that was it. Matt was edgy, and in her dark, terrified moments, Hope was scared that it was something to do with their marriage. Or her.
"Shall I gift-wrap it?"
"No, I like wrapping things myself," Hope confessed. Anyway, getting the shop to wrap things was a waste of time, she'd discovered, as she could ne...
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0006514774
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0006514774 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.1010397