Separate Beds [NOOK Book]


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...
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Separate Beds

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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.

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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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101475508
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/20/2011
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 492,190
  • File size: 368 KB

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Buchan
Elizabeth Buchan is the author of several highly acclaimed and bestselling books of fiction, including the bestselling Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman, The Good Wife Strikes Back, Everything She Thought She Wanted, and Consider the Lily.


Elizabeth Buchan has seen success on both sides of the publishing fence. She began her career writing for Penguin, then took a job as a fiction editor at Random House. When she began writing for herself, she managed motherhood, writing and editing. Her medium is the romance novel, but Buchan produces much more than just escapist love stories. In an interview with, she explains, "Romantic fiction is a wider, richer and more honorable tradition than it is given credit for. It includes some of the greatest novels ever written -- Jane Eyre, Tess of the D'Urbevilles, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice and Anna Karenina."

Although Buchan is best known for her romance novels, her first book was actually a biography of one of the world's most beloved children's authors. Beatrix Potter: The Story of the Creator of Peter Rabbit was released 1988. Written for young readers, the book covers Potter's extraordinary life, her art and her lasting contribution to children's literature.

Her first novel, Daughters of the Storm (1989), intertwines the fates of three women as the fate of a nation hangs in the balance. On the eve of the French Revolution, Sophie, Heloise and Marie each seek freedoms of their own -- in love and society -- and forge a friendship that will change their lives forever. In Light of the Moon (1991) Evelyn St. John is in occupied territory in France during World War II. When she meets and falls in love with someone who is supposed to be the enemy, political truths are redefined in the name of love.

London's Sunday Times called Buchan's third novel "the literary equivalent of the English country garden" when it was released in 1993. Consider the Lily is the story of two cousins -- one rich, the other poor -- and their competition for the love of the same man. Set against the backdrop of the English countryside in the years between the two world wars, the novel became an international bestseller and Buchan won the 1994 Romantic Novelists' Association Novel of the Year Award.

Eventually, after the success of Consider the Lily, the call to write became so loud that Buchan retired from her publishing career. Her fourth novel, Perfect Love (1996) also marks a shift in Buchan's novels. Her first three were historical romances, but with the fourth, characters and settings are brought into the 20th century. Here, Prue Valor has been in a proper English marriage with the much older Max for twenty years. Without explanation, but certainly with much guilt, Prue begins an affair with her stepdaughter's new husband (they are the same age) when they realize they cannot deny their attraction for each other. Living magazine said of the book, "The real battle in this novel is between raging passions and English restraint."

Set in the high-finance world of London in the 1980s, Against Her Nature (1997) tells the story of the fallout from being the subject of rumors of incompetence amid a devastating Lloyd's crash. Two women, Tess and Becky balance their fast-paced game of success with every opportunity afforded them, including children. In Secrets of the Heart (2000), four thirty-somethings have found love and must now find a way to hold on to it. Only two succeed in this clever story about the deals we make for love.

Buchan's next novel, Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman (2003) was released to much critical acclaim. This is the story of what happens during the "happily ever after." Shocked at her husband's affair and the collapse of their marriage, Rose reviews the last twenty years of her life, remembers the carefree woman she used to be, and makes a triumphant decision to fight back by moving on. The book became a New York Times bestseller, film rights to the book were snatched up almost immediately, and The Boston Globe called it "a thoughtful, intelligent, funny, coming-of-middle-age story."

Questions of fulfillment are also the subject of 2004's The Good Wife. Fanny is the devoted woman behind a very public, very busy politician -- yet her own ambitions disappeared somewhere along the way. Likewise, in Everything She Thought She Wanted (2005), two women must decide just how much happiness they can sacrifice in order to stay with their husbands.

In her earlier books, Buchan brought intelligence and depth to the historical romance novel. Her later books have also captured the hard choices women must make in love, in family and in society. With humor and intelligence, her contemporary characters are Bridget Jones aged 25 years, at the point where she has attained the life she sought so long ago, but finds that the searching never ends.

Good To Know

Buchan is married to a grandson of John Buchan, the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps.

In our interview, Buchan reflects that "one of the great joys that hedges around the business of writing is making contact with other writers. I belong to a group that meets every month or so in a shabby old pub in north London, and we sit down to dinner, all of us writers, all of us totally absorbed by the problems, pleasures, and rewards of the process."

Buchan has had several books published in the UK, includiing: Daughters of the Storm (1988), Light of the Moon (1991), Consider the Lily (1993), Perfect Love (1995), Against Her Nature (1997), and Secrets of the Heart (2000).

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    1. Also Known As:
    2. Hometown:
      London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 21, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Guildford, Surrey, England
    1. Education:
      Upper Second Honours Degree in English Literature and History, University of Kent at Canterbury, 1970

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  • Posted November 12, 2011

    Okay story, but a bit slow and depressing.

    The story was quite relevant - long married couple gets bored with each other and then is rocked by the economic crisis. But too many tough situations arose within one family to make it realistic. I would prefer one to two of the storylines to have more detail and character development. I listed to the book on CD and thought I must be missing some CDs because I only had one left to listen to and there were a lot of open ends. The story unfolded slowly, and then BAM it was all neatly tied up in one or two chapters. Kept me busy while exercising at the gym, but not a great read.

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  • Posted March 24, 2011

    Great idea-poor delivery

    I find it commendable that an author decieded to write about the obvious recession as well as a marriage's frissures exposed in this novel. The delivery of this book was poor and at times I considered putting it down reasoning that I could be spending my time more enjoyably. However, I'm glad I didn't. Ms.Buchan satisfies all the issues introduced and I felt this book would be best delivered in a person by person, not a chapter book. Overall, I like the idea of it and feels it does need work. Her writing reminds me of Jane Green.

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  • Posted February 12, 2011

    Couldn't finish it...

    I really disliked this book. I simply could not get through it and at last just put it down, it was not worth the time. About halfway through, the characters were still agonizing and whining over the same things, having made no progress whatever. This might be true in real life, but in a novel, I expect some forward movement. I started skipping ahead huge chunks, 10 then 30 pages, only to find them still picking at the same scabs. It was, in my opinion, just unreadable. Finally, there wasn't one personality in the book that I warmed to; they were--every one of them--self-indulgent, self-pitying, insular and over-privileged. Profoundly unlikeable characters. Just not for me.

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