Light and breezy as a pair of summer sandals, this chick lit about four very different women drawn into friendship by their shared love of fine footwear makes for perfect beach listening. Orlagh Cassidy doesn't create actual character voices per se, but she does differentiate her voice to make it clear who is speaking: a cool, confident, well-spoken tone for political wife Helene; a timid, self-deprecating voice for shy Jocelyn; a snappish, demanding tone for Jocelyn's snobbish and unreasonable employer. Cassidy's warm and expressive narration brings out the likability of the characters and will have listeners hooked on their humorous ups and downs. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's Press hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 19). (June)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Three ladies bond over their shared enthusiasm for high-end footwear-while trying to sort out their various personal issues. Deeply in debt, underachieving waitress Lorna Rafferty realizes she might have a problem when, arriving home with a new pair of expensive peep-toe ankle-strap platform sandals that she just had to have, she discovers that the electricity in her Bethesda apartment has been turned off for non-payment. Clearly, things have to change, but Lorna, loathe to give up the sensual and emotional pleasure she gets from acquiring shoes, places an ad on "Gregslist" to meet other enthusiasts who share her size and are willing to trade shoes. In addition to the expected oddballs, Lorna's ad attracts Helene, a stunning D.C. trophy wife trapped in a loveless marriage to philandering yet charismatic Senator Jim Zaharis. Cruel as well as a cheat, the Senator cancels Helene's credit cards when he discovers that she has been secretly taking birth-control pills, depriving him of the camera-ready heir he craves. Then there is Sandra, the agoraphobic, overweight (and surprisingly successful) phone-sex operator who joins the others on the advice of her therapist. The fledgling support group is rounded out by 20-something live-in nanny Joss, who fibs about both her size and love of shoes to get some time away from her spoiled charges and their nasty, snooty mom. In no time, the ladies are exchanging life stories and becoming good friends. When Lorna notices a man following Helene, the gals hatch a plan to thwart what appears to be a blackmailing scheme, leading to a number of predictable complications. There are also subplots involving a possibly gay boyfriend, a stern banker who is not asbuttoned up as he seems and a sexy Italian shoe designer. Harbison's hardcover fiction debut lovingly describes beautiful shoes. Too bad the love stories never reach the same intensity.