A Tale of Two Sisters (DO NOT ORDER - UK Edition)

A Tale of Two Sisters (DO NOT ORDER - UK Edition)

by Anna Maxted


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A Tale of Two Sisters (DO NOT ORDER - UK Edition) by Anna Maxted

The fabulous new novel from the bestselling author of Being Committed.

They were the best of friends, they were the worst of friends . . . Cassie and Lizbet are sisters. They are very different and believe they want different things in life. But just how different are they? Cassie’s discovery that she’s adopted has fuelled her desire to have a baby — the fact that she’s having marital problems is an inconvenience she’s choosing to ignore.

When her sister Lizbet — indifferent to children at the best of times — falls pregnant by mistake, the sisters’ relationship is severely compromised. Lizbet, who doesn’t know Cassie is adopted, cannot understand why Cassie isn’t more pleased for her. Then, Lizbet miscarries and tries to come to terms with the trauma by concentrating on her career. She seems to be okay, but what is left is an overriding resentment towards her sister.

And when temptation takes them both away from their homes it is not only their own relationship that is challenged. At war, little do they realize they have more in common than they think . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780434015597
Publisher: Random House UK
Publication date: 07/04/2006
Pages: 464
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.05(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Anna Maxted lives in London with her husband Phil and their two sons Oscar and Conrad. Anna read English at Cambridge and works as a freelance journalist. She is also the author of four international bestsellers, Getting Over It, Running in Heels, Behaving Like Adults and Being Committed.

Read an Excerpt


Chapter 1

When my sister left her jungle villa after two weeks at the Datai, on the tropical island of Langkawi, she wrote a little note for the manager.

Dear Sir,
Nearly everything was perfect. However, I think one of the monkeys has a cough.
Ms Cassandra Montgomery

When she returned home a fortnight later -- she and George having gone on to stay at the Regent, in Chiang Mai -- a thick cream envelope was waiting on the mat. Cassie tore it open.

Dear Ms Montgomery,
I am delighted that you and your husband enjoyed your stay. Thank you for pointing out that one of the monkeys has a cough. We have informed our vet.
Sincerely . . .

When Tim and I left our bed and breakfast accommodation on the Isle of Wight, I wrote a little note to the owners.

Dear Martyn and Tanya,
Sorry to leave early without saying goodbye. I hope the Garlic Festival was fun. It's just that the rain and the viral gastro-enteritis have reduced our previously great wealth of activities to watching daytime television and hanging over your khakigreen (or should I say khazi-green? Probably not!) toilet bowl. Also, Tomas's cold is getting worse -- he claims that the 'horrid smell' -- the pleasant Forest Blast air freshener! -- makes his head hurt. And, it's quite hard to cater for an irate two-year-old's extraordinary dietary demands when you don't have a kitchen.
Elizabeth M

I never got a reply, which made me feel less guilty when Tim confessed that his parting message had been to piss against their wall.

The holiday might have been less of a strain were we not looking after our godson while his parents were in Japan for a funeral. We weren't bad, as godparents go, so I thought. Most people are pleased at the honour, counting it as evidence of what fine human beings they are. Their conceit wanes as fast as it takes for the child to open its mouth and say 'WAAAH'. Then they realise. This isn't a compliment, it's a contract. Your friends croak, the kid's yours. Even if they do manage to stay alive, the constant outlay on gifts is on a financial par with keeping a string of racehorses.

Though it was tempting, I didn't think that Jeremy and Tabitha had asked us because we were fabulous. Tim immediately suspected that they didn't have any gay friends. I also felt it was because they presumed that we were too childish ourselves to have children. I'd never said, but people assume. If you ever dared to enquire, you'd be appalled at the poor impression you make on even your closest acquaintances. 'Oh!' -- on seeing your ramshackle cutlery collection mainly assembled from airlines -- 'I'd have thought you'd have everything in matching silver!'

Tabitha and Jeremy lived next door, and from the day we moved in and Tabitha knocked with champagne, they were determined to love us. I'm not complaining. It was only a problem in that I felt anxious about living up to their kind expectations. The house was a deal tidier than it would have been, thanks to Tabitha's habit of popping in for a coffee most days. (I'd had to ban Nescafé Instant from the premises after a near fist-fight. 'Oh, I'll just have the cheap stuff, Elizabeth!' -- 'Absolutely not, I'll make filter!' -- 'No! I won't hear of it! Please don't go to any trouble!' -- 'Tabitha, I insist, don't you dare, give me that jar!' etc. -- 'Well, if you feel that strongly . . . !')

Tabitha had been there when Tim's German aunt had invited herself round to show off quite the plainest baby I'd ever seen. 'Hah!' she'd said, as I tried to resist the hypnotic lure of her enormous bosom. 'Elizabett is getting broody!'

I had met Tim's German aunt twice and the assumption I'd made of her was that she could never understand why another person might oppose her opinion.

'No, I'm not!' I heard myself say in a loud, cross voice. 'I'm not getting broody at all!' Then, so as not to appear petulant, I added, 'I like babies. They're very . . . small. I just don't want one personally.'

Tim's German aunt pulled the baby closer, and zoned me out of her eyeline.

Tabitha darted me a sharp look, and purred, 'All babies are beautiful, aren't they? And what a nice size. Is he feeding well?'

I hurried into the kitchen to make a great big cafetière of designer coffee with every last scrap of caffeine processed out of it, which I hoped would please everyone.

I felt like a wet cat for a long time afterwards. Till at least ten forty-five. I didn't like having to defend myself for what wasn't even a decision, yet. I was thirty at the time, and it didn't seem that long ago that I'd had to defend myself, aged fifteen, to Aunt Edith for not having a boyfriend. Not content with assuming that you were prim about cutlery, people assumed that you wanted children and were jealous of theirs. And commented openly! I couldn't decide which was ruder. I had caught Tabitha's sharp look, and wondered what it meant. Six months later, when she and Jeremy invited us round for dinner, and Tabitha had grown to the fine shape of a ripening squash, it sort of made sense.

'We'd love to be godparents! What a lovely, lovely, er, thing!' I croaked, before Tim said something inappropriate, like, 'It's still half-fish, aren't you supposed to wait till it's born?' I loved Tim with all my heart but in social situations he trod a fine line. Dinner parties were rare these days, what with everyone around us procreating, but when we were invited out, I'd spend the night with my hand hovering over his -- less because we couldn't bear not to be touching than because the arrangement enabled me to gently suffocate any faux pas at its inception.

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