Sharpe continues her theme of women coming to terms with emotionally crippling relationships in her affirming latest (after Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakthrough), about three very different women who buddy up at a retreat for "suddenly single" women. Gratingly chipper Cindy Matterson has managed to forgive her cheating husband's endless affairs, but now he's dumping her for good. Meanwhile, Ann Redding, newly widowed, freshly fired and desperately broke, is mad as hell at her husband for killing himself after wiping out their bank account, while frumpy, plump and meditative Martha Danvers puts an unusual spin on "mistress" by fantasizing that she's the secret lover of a high-profile politician who is in a coma. Each woman has clearly reached a low point in her life when the invitations arrive from Betsy Spalding, who runs the retreat. Cindy, Ann and Martha mix like oil and water, but they pull together in time for a laugh-out-loud ending. Sharpe delivers a cheeky overcoming-adversity narrative that's laced with wisdom and humor. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
As Good As It Gotby Isabel Sharpe
Ann Redding has taken every lousy thing life has thrown at her and handled it very well, thank you very much. All she wants is to get her life back on track...but that won't happen till she makes her worried family and friends back off by spending two weeks at Camp Kinsonu, a retreat for suddenly single women. Now she's stuck sitting around a campfire, singing "I… See more details below
Ann Redding has taken every lousy thing life has thrown at her and handled it very well, thank you very much. All she wants is to get her life back on track...but that won't happen till she makes her worried family and friends back off by spending two weeks at Camp Kinsonu, a retreat for suddenly single women. Now she's stuck sitting around a campfire, singing "I Am Woman" with a bunch of sandal-clad, makeup-boycotting women. If she doesn't get out of there soon, they'll be sizing her for Birkenstocks.
Kinsonu, an idyllic retreat on the coast of Maine, is supposed to be a place for new hope and new beginnings. But Ann doesn't belong in an estrogen Eden, she belongs in a corporate boardroom. Still, the camp has its compensations—she's grudgingly befriended some other "inmates," including Cindy, who honestly believes she's just killing time till her serial-cheating husband comes crawling back. And Martha, shy, overweight, and mysteriously silent about the man she's there to get over.
Maybe it was fate that brought them together at Camp Kinsonu, maybe just bad luck. But three strangers are about to bond on an adventure they didn't ask for—and discover that lives they thought were as good as it got could suddenly get a lot better.
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As Good As It Got
Back home. Thank goodness. Frowning at the wilting plants in her garden...she'd been gone four days and they embraced the opportunity to humiliate her yet again in front of her green-thumb neighbors...Cindy Matterson jiggled her key in her back door lock until she found the sweet spot and could twist it open.
She stepped inside, experiencing the usual sick sense of loss when her beloved dog, Max...part Corgi and part who knew what...was no longer there to greet her. She dropped her overnight bag and glanced at the answering machine in the phone nook tucked into the back wall. The machine blinked, announcing the welcome-home message her husband always left. Cindy smiled fondly, pressed Play, and mouthed along with his deep serious voice. "Welcome home, honey, hope you had a good trip, I'll be back by seven tonight."
She didn't leave town often, not like he did, traveling the world over for General Electric, but she sometimes went to visit friends, or in this case to visit her parents in Princeton, New Jersey, so they could make her feel inadequate about pretty much every way she'd chosen to live her life. Who could pass that up?
No, she wasn't a history professor like her dad, or an art history professor like Mom. Nor did she have a career the narrow way -people defined the word. Spending every minute in full-blown panic trying to keep up was not for her. Someday they'd find out the high rates of cancer and heart disease in this country were caused by -people forcing themselves to do more than their bodies and brains were meant to do.
Cindy had made it through high school in Princeton and raised a wonderful daughter, Lucy, now a junior at...where else?...Princeton. She'd have liked more children, but Kevin wanted to stop at one, so they did. All that was plenty of satisfaction for her. Nowadays she read and volunteered here and there. She used to enjoy visiting antique shops, but now didn't feel she could, after Kevin paid an exorbitant fee to the decorator he thought they needed. They probably did. Cindy didn't exactly have an impressive knack.
A glance into the kitchen produced a wince at the build-up of dishes. She'd only been gone three days, and Kevin seemed to have used enough dishes for twice that. Obviously he hadn't worked at the office all weekend, as he too often did. She hadn't bargained on her marriage being quite this lonely, but then life threw all sorts of stuff at you, and you could either become miserable and depressed or deal with it and choose to be happy anyway. Why would anyone pick any other path?
Upstairs, overnight bag in hand again, she entered their lovely spacious bedroom, with the decorator's choice of stain on the hardwood and the decorator's choice of Oriental rugs and knickknacks and wrought iron and everything else. But she had to admit the room was beautiful. Usually. At that moment, their king-sized bed was unmade and strewn with Kevin's clothes. He couldn't have tidied up even a bit for her homecoming? Usually he was the neater of the two. He must have been in a horrible rush this morning. Not like him at all.
Cindy gathered up a pile of shirts and underwear and dumped them into the quaint wicker and canvas hamper, also decorator-chosen. Sometimes she felt like she lived in some other person's home. Her ideal would have been a rustic cabin in the Rocky Mountains or an ivy-covered stone cottage in the English countryside. Maybe a villa in the south of France, but that part of the world was becoming too chic for someone like her.
Kevin's clothes cleaned up, she pulled at the sheets...Neiman Marcus 604 thread count, the price of which had nearly given her a heart attack, but that's what Kevin grew up with...and the thin cotton blanket and cream-colored quilt, all they needed for summer in Milwaukee.
A lump remained at the foot of the bed after she'd carefully arranged the covers. She frowned and tugged up the various layers again. Still there. Must be one of Kevin's socks, though she hadn't noticed any singles during her earlier sweep. Maybe its mate was on the floor?
She sighed and reached underneath, scrabbling around until her fingers touched something too soft and too satiny to be a sock. Dragged out into the muted gray light of a cloudy day, it proved to be underpants. A thong actually. Black, trimmed with red lace. Not hers.
This time Marjory would say Cindy was an idiot for staying. And so would her parents...who still refused to be civil to Kevin after he'd done this the first time, when she and Kevin still lived in Boston, and the second time, when they'd moved to Chicago. And so would probably everyone else she knew, except her grandma Louise, who thought you should stand by your man even when he was in the process of aiming a pistol at your head.
Cindy launched the panties onto the bed as if they'd ignited. What kind of woman left a man's home where she wasn't supposed to be in the first place, and didn't notice she no longer had on underwear? Maybe a woman who didn't usually wear underwear. Or a woman who wanted to be caught. Or . . .
Wild hope arose. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe Kevin was secretly a cross-dresser, or maybe . . . No, she didn't think so. The woman probably went everywhere toting a bag full of sex toys and hot lingerie and just...oops!...left some behind.As Good As It Got. Copyright © by Isabel Sharpe. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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