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Running in Heels

Running in Heels

3.8 26
by Anna Maxted

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"To say that Babs has been my closest friend for sixteen years is rather like saying that Einstein was good at sums. We were blood sisters from the age of eleven (before my mother prized the razor out of Babs's hand)."

But now Babs, noisy and as fun as a day at the beach, is getting married. And Natalie Miller, twenty-seven, senior press officer for the London


"To say that Babs has been my closest friend for sixteen years is rather like saying that Einstein was good at sums. We were blood sisters from the age of eleven (before my mother prized the razor out of Babs's hand)."

But now Babs, noisy and as fun as a day at the beach, is getting married. And Natalie Miller, twenty-seven, senior press officer for the London Ballet, panics. What happens when your best friend pledges everlasting love to someone else?

It doesn't help that Nat is dating a guy named Saul Bowcock. As the confetti flutters, her good-girl veneer cracks, and she falls into an alluringly unsuitable affair that spins her crazily out of control. Nat is on the rebound and allergic to the truth—about Babs's relationship, her boyfriend's ambition, her parents' divorce, and her golden-boy brother's little Australian secret. Her mother's lasagna and her roommate Andy's fuzzy slippers are also monstrous affronts. But what Nat really needs to face is the mirror—and herself . . . .

Wickedly witty and refreshingly honest, Running in Heels is a hilarious look at the lies we tell ourselves—and the unwanted truths that only our best friends can tell us.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Is using men and then complaining about how tough it is being a single woman funny? Maxted apparently thinks so, since that is the basis for the first third of her sophomore comic effort (following the well-received Getting Over It), before it veers without warning into the psychology of eating disorders and self-hatred. Natalie Miller, 20-something Londoner, is less than enthusiastic about her sensible boyfriend, Saul. To make matters worse, her best friend, Babs, is getting married, leaving Natalie feeling abandoned. So Natalie takes up with a bad boy who wants to teach her how to be bad, too. Soon, Natalie's hair begins falling out an early warning signal that she's taken her flirtation with anorexia too far and it's Babs to the rescue, functioning as both savior and voice of reason as Natalie gets her comeuppance, finally realizing that people shouldn't be judged by their bodies and that she needs to accept herself. While Maxted, former associate editor of Cosmopolitan UK, understands anorexia well, she has crafted a singularly unsympathetic heroine, one for whom taking up Pilates represents a major life-change. When self-absorbed and childish Natalie complains to her mother that she's sick of being quiet, three-quarters of the way into this bloated whine-fest, fatigued readers will wish that not talking enough really was her problem. Never mind the breakneck pace implied by the title; this one plods along in plimsolls, far too long for a Britcom. Agent, Deborah Gelfman. (June 1) Forecast: Maxted scored big with Getting Over It, and her latest, with its sassy yellow jacket, will likely be a popular beach accessory this summer. Still, this isn't the frothy fun one might expect, and sales probably will slump when word gets out. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Maxted's Getting Over It was accused of being a Bridget Jones clone, but it was more than that. Now the Cosmopolitan U.K. contributing editor expands her repertoire with this story of Natalie, who fears she's all alone when best friend Barbara marries. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Despite a wonderfully cheeky first-person narration, this second novel from British author Maxted (Getting Over It, 2000) occasionally gets lost in its own plot. Natalie is terminally good. Not the dreary kind, just the tidy, polite, always-pleasing-others sort of good. Up until now, it's served her well. Though she's bullied by her golden big brother Tony, harangued by her well-meaning mother, and stuck in a proper relationship with an accountant, life moves on amiably enough until her best friend, Babs, gets married. Natalie feels as if she's been dumped, and a downward spiral ensues. She begins dating Chris, the manager of a really awful rock band, who introduces her to the world of drugs and bad manners; she loses her p.r. job at a London ballet company; she becomes so thin that her hair begins to fall out. That's when Babs confronts Natalie with her suspicions that she's become anorexic. It comes as a shock to both Natalie and the reader, over a hundred pages into the story, that mental illness may be the cause of her dramatic transformation. But it wasn't only working with prima ballerinas that gave Natalie a warped self-image, it was also a lifetime of acquiescing to everyone's wishes, of always being the good girl. With the help of Alex, a Pilates instructor, Natalie attempts to find inner peace (though she dreads these New Age notions) and slowly becomes more assertive. She gives her nosey Mum a talking to; she reveals Tony's shameful secret, bringing him down a rung or two on the family ladder; she ditches Chris, and finally begins to eat more than dry toast and coffee. Unfortunately, her efforts go sour through a series of misunderstandings that even threaten a promisingrelationship with Babs's kind brother Andy. Maxted's people are endearing, and she has a flair for comic turns of phrase, but a meandering story dampens the fun.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.08(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The bride is climbing a tree.

"Babs, that branch looks unsafe, are you sure . . ."Crash. Splash.

"Oh well," she says, squelching from the pond, a happy green and brown mud monster. "At least I got the ball down."

A tut! of wonder drags me from my thoughts and I realize that the bride is no longer twelve years old and soggy. She is all grown up and gorgeous, a Botticelli come to life. There is a swish of silk and a rustle of taffeta as my best friend halts and turns to face her groom. Her gaze is so intimate that I look away. A goose honks or, possibly, my mother blows her nose. The vicar smiles crossly until there is quiet, then compares marriage to building a house.

I'm craning over the rows of prettily feathered hats, when my brother digs a sharp elbow into my ribs and says, "There's nothing like a big bride. Always reminds me to lay off the cake."

I blush. "Please, Tony!" I whisper, "Babs is Amazonian."

My brother needs attention like other people need to breathe, but despite his ungracious presence, this day is a perfect day for Babs. It is her own personal fairy tale made real in a haze of confetti and lace. She looks radiant. And I know as I sit here, sighing and cooing with the rest of the crowd, that I'll never forget her wedding as long as I live. It is the beginning, and the end. The start of a marriage and the end of a beautiful relationship. Ours.

To say that Babs is my closest friend is like saying that Einstein was good at sums. Babs and I know each other like we know ourselves. We were blood sisters from the age of twelve (before my mother prized the razor out of Babs's hand). And if you've ever had a best friend, you'll know what I mean. If you've ever had a best friend, I don't need to tell you about making blackberry wine in the garden and being rushed to the hospital, puking majestic purple all the way. Or about our secret language (which is lucky, because I'd have to kill you). Or when we touched tongues to freak ourselves out. Or about our Spanish holiday, age sixteen. Or when Babs dated the coolest, tallest, blondest guy in school and set me up with his wetter, shorter, prematurely balding friend. (He wasn't keen on me either.) Or when Babs thought she was pregnant and we bunked biology to beg the morning-after pill from her GP.

I don't need to tell you of the endless talk about details'the use of toothpaste to zap spots, the way some dads suddenly bolt to L.A. with their secretaries (adultery is rarely original), being fitted for a first bra in a shop where rude old ladies roar out your chest size, the odds of marrying Matt Dillon, wearing an orthodontic brace that Hannibal would reject as unflattering, mothers who collect you from parties with their nightie showing under their coat'so much talk, we talked ourselves into our twenties.

Even when our ambitions defined us, we couldn't bear to be apart. I chose a London college to be near Babs. We shared a flat, we shared lives. No man could hurt us like we could hurt each other. Blokes came and went'and feel free to take that literally. There were a few serious boyfriends, and a lot of jokers. We weren't too bothered. There was always next Saturday night and anyhow, we were in love with our careers. Babs and I had such a beautiful relationship, no man could better it. And then she met Simon.

Iwatch him slip the ring on her finger and see his hand tremble. What do I know? Is this love, or a hangover? Dubious thoughts to be having in church, so I file them under "envy," kiss and hug the happy couple, and when Tony mutters, "I've counted seventeen strings of pearls," I ignore him.

I squeeze through the perfumed crush of guests to where the table plan is mounted on a large easel. I'm hoping to be sat next to at least one of Babs's Italian male relatives (her mother, Jackie, is from Palladio, a small town near Vicenza, and its entire population -- seemingly composed of film stars'appears to be present). I scan the M's until I see Miss Miller, Natalie. Table 3. There is a disappointing dearth of Cirellis and Barbieris on this table, but it's a nice distance from Mrs. Miller, Sheila (Table 14).

That's the trouble with close friendships formed in early adolescence. Your families see it as their divine right to muscle in, and before you can say "interparental surveillance," the lot of them are as enmeshed as the jaws of a zipper. Having been shadowed by my mother throughout the service, I'm pleased that we're dining apart. She'd have tried to cut up my poached salmon for me.

I jump as someone smacks me on the bottom.

"Fluff," trills my mother. She gazes at me, licks her finger, and rubs it around my cheek.

"Mum!" I feel like an extra in Gorillas in the Mist. "What are you doing?"

"You've got red lipstick all over your face, dear," she explains.

"Oh. Thanks." (It would be cheeky to suggest that lipstick is preferable to spit.)

"So who've you been put with?" she demands, peering at the board.


"Ah! He wears a tux beautifully!"


"Frances Crump! A dot of blusher would make all the difference. She looks like a Gypsy in that purple skirt. I don't know what Babs sees in her, yes, who else?"

"Er, some guy called Chris Pomeroy'"

"Sounds like a poodle, who else?"


"The brother of the bride? The brother of the bride! What an honor! I must go and say hello, haven't seen him for years what with all that fiancée business, terrible shame, and leaving his job like that. Apparently he only got back last week, darling, you must remember to thank Jackie, a note and a telephone call I think would be appropriate, not tomorrow though, she'll be inundated, leave it till Monday, would Monday be best? Yes, I'm sure Monday would be best, the day after your daughter's wedding is always fraught, although saying that, what would I know'"

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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Running in Heels 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
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Lindsie More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading "Running in Heels" and loved it. Although this novel started out very slow it turned itself into a page turner filling its readers with real life altercations and problems. Natalie the main character was so uptight and extremely vulnerable. She never stood up for herself, and she developed an eating disorder. This novel took us through her life, and other very real circumstances that a lot of woman face every day. From feeling like your best friend "Left you" for another man to eating disorders as well as others. After reading this woman will want to look into their own souls and see what they can discover about themselves. I give this novel 2 thumbs up. Every woman should read it! I will defiantly be reading more from this author. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PageTurnerCF More than 1 year ago
Rings a little too close to "Bridget Jones" to me, but parts are altogether VERY original. Anna Maxted is brilliant in how we tend to talk to ourselves, and tend to do absolutely opposite of what we intend to, and how well-intentioned situations blow up in our faces 9 out of 10 times. Book was difficult at first to get into, with so many characters to keep dibs on...but once I got more into it, was difficult to stop. Had to know how it would end, as she hits the hay with nearly everyone breathing! LOL!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely adored this novel. I didn¿t quite get sucked into the book upon the first page, but after the first few chapters, I was hooked! It was finally a relief to see, that I indeed am not the only one who has an overbearing mother, an overpowering best friend, and a few dreadful boyfriends. I most certainly recommend this book for a fun read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Finally a story about a 'real' woman, with tangible problems, personality flaws, etc. Very refreshing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This sounded like it was going to be a great book but I quickly got bored.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first I just picked this book up for something to read. But I couldn't put it down once I started.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Poor Nat has never been good enough for her parents or brother... a real novel with real issues. Amazing story...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. My first read of Anna Maxted, and I couldn't put it down!! The main character was absolutly insane!! I loved how something would happen to her, one thing after another... The ending was awesome! Absolutly recommended!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i absolutely loved this book! i thought perhaps the humor was a little forced when i began reading it, but as it went on, I started to like the way the author was writing. The book was serious enough that it wasn't a cheesy love story. I LOVED the ending!!! I couldn't get over the surprise of it. The unexpected twist in the middle was a litte weird, as if maybe the author just decided to throw that in for effect and began starting over from there. All in all, I'd definitely recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Running in Heels is an excellent summer read! It's fun and has a sharp, biting wit, yet deals with many dark inner struggles that women face today. The ending is a bit fluffy, but all in good fun. :) Read and pass it on to your best friend! Yeehaw!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I truly thought this would be just a piece of fluff to fill time in between some of my heavier reading. About one quarter of the way into the book suddenly everything changed. Anna Maxted is remarkable writer who puts you in the room with the characters and makes you want to never leave. The worst part of this reading experience was that it ended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel is a good, quick read despite it's length and varying plots. Maxted takes Bridget Jones one step farther, and subtracts the trash of Tiffany Trott. While not life changing, this is the perfect weekend read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't know what the others are talking about. I thought the ending was perfect and a surprise to me! I really didn't know what was going to happen...Overall it is a vary funny book, but the humor seems a little forced in some places.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really love this book. I bought it on impulse while checking out and have been extremely happy with it. I am sharing it now with my book club. The London scene is quite humorous. The first half of the plot is all character building. I started to wonder if there was a point to the story (not that I would mind if there wasn't because it was so funny). In the middle you find out the protagonist's crux and the latter half is how she copes. If you are in the mood to laugh read this!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and I took it with me everywhere I went last week. I could relate to the main character so well. Great reading!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book starts off slowly, it took me awhile to get into it, but towards the middle of the book it gets a lot better, and I couldn't wait to see what happened next!