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Behaving Like Adults

Behaving Like Adults

3.8 12
by Anna Maxted

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Meet Holly, the sunny twenty-nine-year-old owner of Girl Meets Boy, a dating service for those who are "beautiful inside and out." Though she's a successful matchmaker, she hasn't quite fulfilled her own relationship dreams (her ex-fiancé, Nick, seems unlikely to progress from his job as Mr. Elephant, children's party entertainer). So when her friends dare her


Meet Holly, the sunny twenty-nine-year-old owner of Girl Meets Boy, a dating service for those who are "beautiful inside and out." Though she's a successful matchmaker, she hasn't quite fulfilled her own relationship dreams (her ex-fiancé, Nick, seems unlikely to progress from his job as Mr. Elephant, children's party entertainer). So when her friends dare her to pick a man off the top of the pile, she's game.

But in one awful evening, the seemingly perfect Stuart turns out to be a complete cad, and Holly's belief in the goodness of humanity takes a hit. What does it mean for her business and her romantic future if she can no longer trust her ability to read people? Holly's friends and colleagues are drawn into the complicated drama of her life, while Holly learns her most important lesson: to trust herself.

Rueful and hilarious, Behaving Like Adults is a must-read novel of men and women growing up -- in spite of themselves.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The heroine of Maxted's third comic confessional (after Running in Heels) is 29-year-old Holly, the incurably optimistic founder of a London dating agency called Girl Meets Boy. The agency is a hit, but, natch, Holly has her own boy troubles: her ex-fiance, Nick, takes his time moving out, and in the meantime infuriates her with his resolutely boyish sensibility (he makes his living dressing up as Mr. Elephant at children's parties). Holly sets herself up with Stuart, a promising applicant at her agency who turns out to be very different from what she imagined: he rapes her on their first date. The experience leaves her so numb and confused that she's not even sure it was rape, and comes up with heartbreaking rationalizations ("Well, here's the truth-I'm so ashamed I'm almost too embarrassed to say-but while he pinned me down, I held my stomach in. See? That proves it. If a woman is being you know, she wouldn't hold in her stomach"). She becomes depressed, makes bad business decisions, fights with her sister Claudia and bewildered friend Rachel and makes the bizarre choice to see Stuart again. Worst of all, she can't trust anyone anymore. Holly's road back to happiness is a long one, not helped by Stuart suing her for defamation when she eventually goes public with the facts. Maxted takes Holly's ordeal seriously, but her attempts to keep a light tone come off awkwardly. To Maxted's credit, Holly never becomes pitiful or self-dramatizing, but the author sometimes errs on the side of glibness, making this an oddly breezy read punctuated by jarring moments of anguish. (May) Forecast: Maxted's name, a bright pink jacket and coy flap copy will sell the book, but readers looking for beach fare may be taken aback by the dark plot. 5-city author tour. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Holly is a charming British twentysomething who runs her own upstart dating agency, Girl Meets Boy. Although she has broken up with fianc Nick-who, except for lack of maturity and direction, seems utterly darling-they still cohabit in the London house they own (Holly has been too busy to give him the boot). Yet all is going fairly well until Holly decides to test out her own service by dating one of her clients, who, it turns out, is more of a sexual predator than a dashing date. Soon after, Nick moves out, and Holly's life starts to splinter. Devastated, she struggles to keep Girl Meets Boy afloat and keep her friends and family from committing her while trying to live like someone who hasn't been assaulted by life's blows. Maxted's light writing style makes her story engagingly believable but does not belie the depth and range of her sympathetically flawed characters, who are both charming and witty in the face of disaster. Although Maxted's fiction (Getting Over It; Running in Heels) is gaining readers, her pop-culture standing is well below what it should be. Hopefully, the third time is a charm. Highly recommended.-Rachel Collins, "Library Journal" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Setting: London. Character: hip young woman. Conflict: boyfriend trouble. Sound familiar? Still, this latest Brit-chick-lit saga gets a serious spin from the popular Maxted. Á la her previous outings (Running in Heels, 2001, etc.), blending a smart, chatty narrative with a weighty problem--a parent’s death one time, anorexia another--Maxted here tackles date rape. Holly, 29, has a house in London, a diabetic cat, and a new business (a dating service for young hipsters called Girl Meets Boy) that seems to be headed toward grand success. Of course, there’s one problem: ex-fiancé Nick won’t move out. Having split because Nick just won’t grow up (he’s charming, kind, and funny and works as Mr. Elephant at children’s birthday parties), Holly is hoping he’ll get the hint when she goes on a date with Stuart, a Girl Meets Boy client. But things go terribly wrong and Stuart rapes Holly on her kitchen floor just as Nick arrives home. But was it rape? Holly, traumatized, decides it didn’t seem like rape (no gun or dark alley, and, for heaven’s sake, Stuart drives a Mercedes), and so it must have been bad sex. Nick moves out, but Holly’s denial creates a host of problems: depression, anger, fear. So Holly walks around her own house with a kitchen knife and gets a panic attack at the thought of grocery shopping. Her friends--outlandish aristocrat Rachel (who, Holly suspects, is having an affair with her sister’s husband), theatrical Nige (who works for Holly while awaiting stardom), baby sister Claudia--can’t understand why Holly is letting her business (and friendships and whole worldview) fall apart. When Holly finally blows the whistle on Stuart, she begins to heal, but not before Stuart sues fordefamation of character and Nick (who was still stuck on Holly) breaks it off for good. Never fear: a happy ending is in sight, but Maxted makes her characters work for it. The heavy subject aside: a funny, breezy read. Agent: Deborah Schneider/Gelfman Schneider Agency

Product Details

Random House of Canada, Limited
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.45(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

Behaving Like Adults
A Novel

Chapter One

Modern women don't believe in love. Believing in love carries roughly the same stigma as halitosis. It's as old-fashioned as going on a diet (as opposed to a detox). It suggests you have no sense of irony, and you like Meg Ryan films. A modern woman cannot accept that Father Christmas is a fraud and persist in believing that one sunny day her dark handsome destiny will appear in a puff of Fahrenheit and haul her off to Happy Ever After.

I know all that and yet I do believe in love. I apologize. But I can't help it. I presume it's a genetic blip which might also account for my dress sense (too pink).

I just like stuff to be nice. That's even worse. If you wish to maintain even a shred of credibility, you have to be cynical and keep your mouth in a hard straight line even when you find something funny. I'm not stupid. I do know the world is cruel. But I always like to hope that it isn't. I test my awwww! count. You proceed through the day, listing every occasion you're prompted to think awwww! You can't cheat and hire a puppy to peep out of a basket. Often, my total is horrific.

When I started the dating agency, Rachel crowed that now I'd see what people were really like. I wouldn't believe the lies they told to get laid! She said this as if I were either a nun or a social retard who believed -- despite living in a densely populated part of the planet for twenty-nine years -- that seduction was about honing in on the obvious and blurting it. Whereas I'm well aware that if that were the case, the human race would have fizzled out in the Iron Age when Wilma stared at Fred and said, "That's quite a small flintstone you've got there." Sometimes I think my friends confuse optimism with idiocy.

Of course, unpleasant characters applied. When you launch a dating agency, even if you specify as we did that Girl Meets Boy was for the "young and funky" (which no doubt deterred everyone in both of those categories), you invite weirdos to your door. It's Open Day for Oddballs. It's the Marilyn Manson Fan Club Parents Evening. But overall -- despite the nutters, nerds, squares, sociopaths, oafs, half-wits, dummies, brutes, airheads, and deviants gracing our files -- the awwww! count was immense.

Partly to distinguish ourselves from the Christians with an interest in ornithology and partly to discern if anyone out there possessed a sense of humor (a Good Sense of Humor is a luxury), we asked silly questions on the application form. Even Nige -- who'd only agreed to help out because he was between acting jobs and is nosy -- agreed that the hoi polloi were far wittier than he'd given them credit for. I particularly warmed to the twenty-seven-year-old man who replied to "Do you have any talents?" with "Probably not."

Girl Meets Boy began as a business, but the people who used it fast melted my heart to a soft, sticky caramel. Also, toward the end of the great fiancé fiasco (not before in case you were wondering), it did occur to me that I might find someone. Don't mix business with pleasure? I thought it was a phrase made up by killjoys to stop you from smiling at work. I was trying to enjoy what I'd achieved. I'd achieved so much, everyone said, I should be so proud. Oh, absolutely. I'd made sacrifices, but not whole lambs, more the odd chop. I should be happy.

When I'm told I should be happy, I start trying to measure it with a ruler.

Everything is a test. Rachel rings to say that the cab dropped her outside her flat, whereupon she bade farewell to a loud luxurious fart. She then turned and saw her neighbor padding up the path behind her. We howl with laughter. Yes, but is that happy? The cat sits on my lap, her purr rumbles through me, and I sigh -- that's happy, surely? I visit the art house cinema because I hate Warner Village (Village? It's not a village!), and I feel comforted by the fact that they sell whole-grain flapjacks -- even though I wouldn't eat one for a bet. I watch myself do this, and I think, That woman, she's smiling. But is she happy?

Self-interrogation is dangerous. Your inner voice pronounces the obvious -- "You don't realize you're happy till it's gone" -- as if it's your fault for not keeping an eye out, thus making you feel worse than you do already. But you're not to blame. Mostly, happiness doesn't just drop from you like an apple from a tree. It trickles away silently, evaporating over the months and years, until one day you feel a strange hollowness inside. You glance around and it hits you -- despite all you own, your great, glorious success, you have nothing.

The good and therefore unreported news is that you can find it again. It might be a bit of a trek. If you haven't the least idea of your destination, the journey takes a little longer. But I'm your fresh-breathed proof. Rachel was right. I did discover what people were really like. And yet, after everything that happened, I got happy again. I still believe in love. As I said, I can only apologize. And explain.

When Nige suggested a party to celebrate the success of Girl Meets Boy, I did wonder. I had done well, creating a company from scratch and making it pay. Although any old pinhead can create a company. They make it foolproof at Companies House. For around eighty pounds they hand you over a shrink-wrapped company ...

Behaving Like Adults
A Novel
. Copyright © by Anna Maxted. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Anna Maxted is a freelance writer and the author of the smash international bestsellers Getting Over It, Running in Heels, and Behaving Like Adults. She lives in London with her husband, author Phil Robinson, and their son.

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Behaving Like Adults 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Lindsie More than 1 year ago
Having read Running in Heels, I though this boom would be light and fun. However, I was very wrong. Instead of getting a light, chick lit book, filled with romance and humor readers get a serious read that deals with women's issues. While I sympathized with the character, and found some humor in the book, I wish the author would have let us know what type of book this would be prior to reading. The reviews on the back cover of the book say it is funny, entertaining, and romance filled when in reality its not and it takes till the last page to see a hint of romance. Overall it's a good book, but readers should know what they are getting themselves into.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book along with many others from the clearance sale. This was my least favorite. I found it difficult to finish and found myself skimming through the last quarter of the book. Several pages at a time were devoted to dialogue between the same couple of characters and it seemed to drag on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is totally a beach read. It has its funny moments, but the plot is very predicatable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Maxted delivers again. Her style is addicting. Her characters are well defined without being tediously beat to death. The interchange between the sisters is great. Recommended without reservations.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book started off kind of slow, but once I got started I couldn't put it down. You feel like you know the characters personally. It turned out to be a really good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Granted halfway through the novel I had more or less figured out what would happen- but the story is told in such a way that I couldn't put it down! The charictors are hilarious!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Maxted is a talented writer, and like her other two books, Behaving Like Adults is well-written. However, don't expect a light, breezy beach read in that the book deals with what the book flap calls an awful evening with Stuart, but as the reader later finds out, with rape. The rest of the book is an interesting foray into the recesses of Holly's mind and and her inability to trust anyone around her due to her experience--all well-crafted and believable. The only problem I had with the book is that everyone seemed to be too witty and too charming;they were sometimes unbelievable in their right-on-cue responses to every question or statement. The book has the classic romantic comedy happy and expected ending. I recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my second Anna Maxted book, after reading 'Running In Heels' earlier this year. I was fortunate enough to find an advance copy of this book at a bargain, so I'm a little biased. If I had paid full hardcover price for this book, I may have been harsher. The story is well told and often quite funny, but the heroine, Holly, is very aggravating in her poor choices. I had a hard time finishing this book because I knew how it would end (all these Bridget Jones clones end the same) and the path to the finale was littered with Holly doing one stupid thing after another when what she should have done all along is have faith in her fiance, friends and family and told them her situation. I guess if she did that, then the book would've only been 20 pages long.