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Posted August 5, 2010
Too many themes, but a good story
Jay Conway is a successful banker in Philadelphia who devotes more of her time to her job than to developing a personal life. Thirteen years before she and her best friend Bailey McIntyre discovered they had deeper feelings for each other, but Bailey couldn't deal with the situation and ran away. Now Bailey is back and not only does she want to reestablish their relationship, but she's hired to work at Jay's bank. Their boss, Sharon, is deeply closeted and encourages them to be also because she doesn't believe that known lesbians can have a successful career in finance. Unfortunately, Jay is diagnosed with cancer and for Bailey to be able to take care of her, they have to make their relationship known. Sharon decides to help them and possibly risk her own career. The three of them are joined in the battle by Jay's friend Riley who is the golf pro at the country club. The women are going to fight battles together and support each other as they try to deal with the stresses that are placed on their personal and professional lives.
Hoffman tries to deal with a number of issues in this story, probably too many. There is the broken relationship between Jay and Bailey, which causes Jay to be distrustful of any other women for years. That plot line takes an unbelievable turn when suddenly all is forgiven and things go on as if the bitter feelings of thirteen years never existed. There is a very realistic description of what Jay has to go through with her cancer treatments and it would have made a very thought provoking story. Or there is the struggle that Jay and Bailey go through to establish their rights as partners both with the medical profession and at work. Finally, there is the story between Sharon and Riley as they try to reconcile a relationship where one is closeted and the other is an out lesbian. Any one of these would have been a good basis for a book, but in trying to put them all in the same story, none of them developed completely or got the attention that they deserved.
One unique aspect of the book is that it contains a few recipes at the back for those readers who want to try them out. Two of the characters like to cook and these are the meals they prepare.
Strength in Numbers is fine for a few hours of entertainment. Be careful which paperback version you purchase. The first edition had some mistakes that the publisher says have been corrected now.
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