Separate Beds

Separate Beds

3.1 15
by Elizabeth Buchan
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

A story of economic breakdown and romantic recovery from the author of Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman.

Tom and Annie's kids have grown up, the mortgage is do-able, and they're about to get a gorgeous new, state-of-the-art French stove. Life is good- or so it seems. Beneath the veneer of professional success and domestic security, their marriage

See more details below

Overview

A story of economic breakdown and romantic recovery from the author of Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman.

Tom and Annie's kids have grown up, the mortgage is do-able, and they're about to get a gorgeous new, state-of-the-art French stove. Life is good- or so it seems. Beneath the veneer of professional success and domestic security, their marriage is crumbling, eaten away by years of resentment, loneliness, and the fall out from the estrangement of their daughter, and they've settled into simply being two strangers living under the same roof.

Until the economy falls apart.

Suddenly the dull but oddly comfortable predictability of their lives is upended by financial calamity-Tom loses his job, their son returns home, and Tom's mother moves in with them. As their world shrinks, Tom and Annie are forced closer together, and the chaos around them threatens to sweep away their bitterness and frustration, refreshing and possibly restoring the love that had been lying beneath all along.

In Separate Beds, Elizabeth Buchan has captured the concerns and joys of contemporary women, and her timely, warm, and funny novel tracks the ebb and flow of family, fortune, and love that is familiar to so many readers.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The prolific Buchan (Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman) paints an achingly touching portrait of a marriage and family in crisis, hobbled by economic recession and long-buried emotions. For middle-class Londoners Annie and Tom Nicholson--she's a hospital administrator, he's a BBC exec --the abrupt departure of their eldest daughter, Mia ("I won't be forgiving you and Dad anytime soon," she writes), exposes more than the fissures between parents who've drifted apart. It puts unbearable strain on Mia's twin, Jake, a single parent with a foundering business, and sister Emily, a struggling writer. This good-natured, misguided family stumbles haplessly toward a breaking point when Tom loses his job, and Jake, baby Maisie, and Tom's mum, Hermione, all move in. Suddenly, what had seemed a well-tended life becomes threadbare and crowded with shared disappointment, fear, and need. Here's a textured, layered story of love that builds on trust, founders on lies, and then finally discovers something to believe in. Buchan masterfully captures the Nicholsons' personal story with her richly drawn characters--and makes it reflect all of our own frazzled--and salvageable--lives. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Annie enjoys her career and nice home, but her marriage to Tom has been in decline for years. In addition, their elder daughter is estranged, their son is married to a cold woman who restricts access to their only granddaughter, and their younger daughter is almost 30 but living at home, subsidized by Annie and Tom while she tries to write a novel. When Tom wants to have a serious talk, she expects to hear he wants a divorce, but he drops a real bombshell: he's been laid off. A number of circumstances, including their son becoming a single dad and not being able to afford the retirement home for her mother-in-law, draw the family members closer as they negotiate living under the same roof. Buchan focuses on a different character in each chapter, allowing them all to speak for themselves and letting the reader see all of the angles as the family rebuilds in the face of financial adversity. VERDICT Buchan follows earlier works, including the best-selling Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman, with another well-written, humorous, and poignant look at the contemporary lives of adult women that will appeal to those who appreciate Jennifer Weiner, Jennifer Crusie, and Marian Keyes.—Elizabeth Blakesley, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman
Kirkus Reviews

The already iffy equilibrium of a couple in mid-marriage distress comes under new pressures when the British economy crashes in Buchan's good-natured domestic dramedy (Wives Behaving Badly, 2006, etc.).

Although 40-something Londoners Annie and Tom have slept in separate bedrooms ever since their daughter Mia stormed out five years ago never to return, they maintain the façade of a comfortable marriage. Then comes the recession. Tom, who has always put career before family involvement, loses his prestigious job at the BBC World Service. Nurturing Annie, a moderately paid hospital administrator, must carry an increasingly heavy financial burden. Next Mia's twin brother Jake, whose high-end furniture-making business has tanked, moves back home with his baby daughter Maisie when his coldly ambitious wife Jocasta leaves him for another man and a lucrative job in NYC (one that seems unlikely given the banking crash). To make matters worse, Tom's difficult mother Hermione can no longer afford assisted living and moves into the bedroom Tom's been using so he must move back into the master bedroom with Annie. Dormant sexual tensions waken between saintly Annie and sympathetic Tom despite long-simmering resentments, mostly surrounding Mia's estrangement from the family (another plot point lacking credibility: The original argument seems rather mild and one wonders why no one has checked for Mia on Facebook or Google, given the prominence of the Internet in the plot—Tom gambles disastrously with day trading). Soon the family is pulling together. Younger daughter Em, who previously lived at home supported by Tom while trying to write fiction, is surprised how much she enjoys the job she finds in PR. And when Jocasta announces that she wants to take Maisie to America, devoted father Jake mounts a solid campaign to retain custody. Tom becomes more self-aware about the mistakes he's made as he and Annie slowly reconnect. As for the long-lost Mia...

The comforting message here seems to be that the family that loses its money together stays together.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670022366
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
01/20/2011
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
7.50(w) x 0.66(h) x 1.24(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >