Sleepless Nights

Sleepless Nights

4.0 2
by Sarah Bilston
     
 

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After the pregnancy from hell, motherhood has to be plain sailing, right? Quinn "Q" Boothroyd is in for a shock.

And baby Samuel isn't the only thing on Q's mind—she and her husband, Tom, have some difficult decisions to make in a sinking economy. Do they still want to be big-firm lawyers, or is it time to scrap their former careers and try something new? When a

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Overview

After the pregnancy from hell, motherhood has to be plain sailing, right? Quinn "Q" Boothroyd is in for a shock.

And baby Samuel isn't the only thing on Q's mind—she and her husband, Tom, have some difficult decisions to make in a sinking economy. Do they still want to be big-firm lawyers, or is it time to scrap their former careers and try something new? When a chance opportunity introduces them to an eccentric small-town lawyer, the couple's integrity—and marriage—is tested to the limit.

Meanwhile, Jeanie, Q's younger sister, is having problems of her own. Boyfriend Dave seems dangerously close to popping the question, but is she ready to settle down?

There are sleepless nights all around this summer: one woman will wake up to motherhood, the other to becoming an adult. Both must dare to make their beds—and lie in them.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bilston's sequel to Bed Rest describes new parenthood with emotion and humor, despite some flimsy plot contrivances and undeveloped characters. Five weeks after giving birth, Quinn "Q" Boothroyd wonders if she'll be able to balance motherhood and corporate law. The tension builds when Q's husband, Tom, hears rumors of downsizing at his own law firm. A vacation seems to be the cure, and, luckily, Tom's former colleague, Paul Dupont, offers up his Connecticut summer home. Together with Q's sister, Jeanie, the family settles in for a few weeks of rest, but the vacation is far from perfect: baby Samuel won't stop screaming and Jeanie and Paul are constantly at each other's throats. When Paul suggests that Q and Tom take over a local law practice, they think he's crazy, until a custody case has them rethinking small-town law. Bilston's plucky heroines are sympathetic, and she pulls no punches when describing the difficulties of parenting a newborn. The supporting characters, however, are bland, and a romantic subplot slows the story to a crawl. Fans of Bilston's first novel may enjoy the follow-up, but it won't attract many new readers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Bilston's sequel to Bed Rest (2006) features an even more wearying topic: colic. After the birth of baby Samuel, whose gestation mandated the aforementioned rest, his colicky nonstop screaming threatens to rob his power-lawyer parents, Brit transplant Q (short for Quinn) and husband Tom, of the minimal downtime not already preempted by their all-consuming jobs at elite Wall Street firms. When their billionaire friend Paul offers his Connecticut vacation home, Q and Tom welcome the chance to re-evaluate their recession-threatened career paths. Q's younger sister Jeanie, a newly minted sociologist, arrives from London to babysit, her life in flux: She's jobless, flatless and soon to be boyfriend-less. In a meet-cute worthy of Desperate Housewives, Paul visits his house, catching Jeanie in the buff. Tom and Q consider buying the small-town law practice of drunken attorney Kent, and while he's on a bender, they take over a child custody case. The client, naive, impoverished Emmie, is being sued by not-yet-ex-husband Ryan for custody of their son. Although Ryan's domestic brutality is legendary, he's got the police in his pocket and serious dirt on Emmie. Angela, her infant daughter by another father, had died of SIDS, Emmie was told, but the death certificate shows that the child died of Reyes syndrome. Since Reyes takes days to develop, only an unfit mother would have failed to seek medical help in the period leading up to Angela's death. Tom and Q learn that Emmie's old-fashioned doctor had not only prescribed aspirin (linked to Reyes) for Angela's cold, but downplayed her worsening symptoms. What to do when doctor, medical examiner and police collude to hide the doc's negligence? Althoughthe legal subplot has many holes, it is a welcome distraction from the patently contrived obstacles delaying the predictable union of Paul and Jeanie, and saccharine scenes depicting the impossibly pleasant nursing home where Jeanie eventually gets a job. Arch prose and agreeably flawed characters make this worthwhile despite the flabby structure.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060889944
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/11/2009
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Sleepless Nights
A Novel

Chapter One

New York

The party was in a Brooklyn brownstone. I stood on the sidewalk, staring up at the rearing expanse of red-brown brick, on a hot evening in late June. Above the door, gargoyles grinned and glowered at the street and at the gorgons bulging over the casement cornices. A hot, oily breeze stirred fronds of trailing ivy in two giant, swollen urns beside the door. Little piles of itchy grit swirled in the air, down the long flight of steps, and into my eyes. An old man enjoying the evening grinned as he passed, and touched his hat. "Waiting don't make it any easier, you know," he said softly, chuckling.

I rearranged my acre-wide blue dress across my belly, shapeless as a burst balloon, and began to mount the stone stoop. With each step I felt the sharp pull in my scar, a hot, numbed mouth pressed awkwardly closed. At the top I checked my cotton overshirt, reclipped my snarled red hair, and hit the buzzer.

Inside I could hear voices and the deep pound of a bass. There was a pause, a shout suddenly close by ("Don't worry, I'll get it!"), and the door flew open; a pale, glamorous woman of forty appeared, dressed in a microscopic black shirtdress, long dark hair flowing glossily over one shoulder. "Oh...Quinn, it's you," she said dubiously, looking me up and down. -"People call you Q, yes? Congratulations, and all that. Come in." She ushered me into the rich, air-conditioned coolness. "There are a few other associates here...over there somewhere, I think." She gestured vaguely.

Caroline was the youngest woman ever to be partnered at my law firm, Schuster and Marks. She'd had a string of loversin the five years I'd known her but no husband, and she swore she didn't want one "until I've lost my looks. The only reason to get married is so you can fuck when you're too old to get it any other way, y'know?" She spent every penny she earned at Schuster on herself...whenever she was away from work long enough to spend it, which was not often, especially in recession-era New York. She thought she was a role model for me and the rest of Schuster's female associates.

Caroline pushed her way off into the throng, bony arms swinging by her side. I could see the points of each sharp elbow, little pink eyes glaring back at me. Knots of people were collected on each of the three dove-gray silk sofas, while others milled restlessly on the polished parquet floor. Three men were having an intense conversation around the fireplace while a fourth listened, tapping his fingers edgily on the marble surface. There were at least ten people in the kitchen area, spilling off bar stools or talking across the granite countertops while a man with hooded eyes stirred something steaming and blackberry-colored in a copper vat on the stove. A few more were smoking out on the balcony overlooking the slim strip of garden.

"Q...my God, I can't believe it's you." It was Fay, another of the partners from the firm; there were new lines above her mouth, I noticed, as she slipped her arm around the waist of a young blond woman. "How did you manage to get away? Can I get you a drink? Caroline had vodka imported from Russia specially for the party. It's over there..." and she gestured to a white table on which stood twenty unlabeled bottles beside several towers of stacked shot glasses. "After the first six you don't notice the shit-awful taste anymore. Karen, why don't you get her . . ."

I reached out to stop the girl, whose vacant wide eyes slid over my face. "Thanks, Fay, and Karen, but I can't. Drink, that is. I'm...I'm nursing," I explained.Fay blinked. "Right," she said cautiously.

"Breast-feeding I mean," I went on, laughing a little, looking down at my body, feeling a start of shock at my own extraordinarily unfamiliar shape. Since Samuel was born, my nipples, new brown moons, have taken to poking through my clothes to see what's up. My shirt, I realized suddenly, had fallen aside.

Sometimes, for what seems no reason at all, the waves of conversation at a party crash into silence, and for a moment there is nothing but an awkward flutter. Women look askance, men grin foolishly. As it happened, I was in the middle of the room at the time, a little gap opened up about me; about thirty pairs of eyes swiveled in the sudden hush to my ludicrous, pornographically swollen chest. Milk: I felt it, warm and dark and spreading. Blushing, I readjusted my shirt over my navy dress...too late; a man six feet away turned his head hastily, and there was an audible snicker from somewhere in the kitchen. Fay made a noise that was half a cough, and backed off. "I see. Of course. I think..." (touching her moist brow with the back of her hand)..."there's water over there, or juice, or whatever it is that...that nursing...er...people drink. I'll catch up with you later . . ."

She pushed her way toward the garden, dragging the bewildered girl behind her. Oh that this too, too solid flesh would melt . . . I fixed my gaze on a vast modern art canvas on the opposite wall, a block of shining black slashed with hell reds and oranges, and, as the noise picked up its hum, tried very hard to look as though I was appreciating its aesthetic complexity.

Bland faces with sharp, glittering eyes moved like other-worldly shadows around the room. I didn't recognize most of the people (lawyers from other firms, most likely) although nearest the fireplace sat Michael, a Schuster partner, now deep in conversation with Marta, an associate hired a few years after me. Sitting beside her was a cohort of mine, named Julie. Very slim, seemingly self-confident; we'd never quite managed to be friends. I watched her face covertly. Julie didn't seem to be actively ignoring me.

Tom, why did I ever let you talk me into this . . . Pushing my way past elbows, navigating wafer-thin cocktail glasses, I lumbered over to the little circle, positioning myself on its periphery.

"I thought you pulled triumph from the jaws of defeat, Michael," Julie was saying. She was still in her suit, but had pulled her shirt an inch or two out from the waistband. "When the chief financial officer took the stand my heart just sank. You could see how confident he was. But then you confronted him with those receipts..."

Michael shrugged. "It helped that the prosecutor was an absolute idiot, obviously."

Julie took a swig from her vodka glass. "Your cross-examination was masterly...don't you think, Marta? Once you'd shown the jury the CFO's hands could be dirty, Michael, tapped into their 'Wall Street fatigue,' I knew we were...oh, hi!"

Seeing my shadow fall over her hands, Julie looked up: "Q! I can't believe it's you." Michael stood up and shook my hand formally; Marta nodded briefly, murmuring something I didn't catch.

Sleepless Nights
A Novel
. Copyright © by Sarah Bilston. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

Sarah Bilston is the author of Bed Rest. Originally from England and married to an American, she teaches at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where she lives.

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