Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sleeping Arrangements by Madeleine Wickham

I checked this out of the library because it was written by the same author who wrote all the books by Sophie Kinsella. (Was that an awkward sentence or what? I realize that both names may be pseudonyms.) Honestly, I'd never know it was the same person just based on the writing. This was a fluffy, overwritten and melodramatic romance novel - sort of like someone trying too hard to write the kind of book that Joanna Trollope would.

The basic premise is that two families find themselves double-booked in a friend's Spanish villa for a week, and they try to make the best of the situation by sharing the villa. It turns out that Hugh, who is married to Amanda, had a past relationship with Chloe, who has since become "life partners" with Philip (she and Philip are very clear on the fact that they are NOT MARRIED, and they make a point of saying so to others on many occasions throughout the book - you'd think after thirteen years together they would have become more comfortable with this idea!). Hugh took off on Chloe very suddenly fifteen years earlier, the worm, and clearly they both have unresolved feelings about this; unsurprisingly, they still have unresolved feelings for each other too. Thrown into the mix is the fact that Hugh works for the big, horrible corporation that has just taken over the bank that Philip works for, and the big, horrible corporation is planning to shut down Philip's branch and put him out of work. Ahhh, the drama!!

In spite of my flippant dislike of the book, I felt compelled to keep reading. It was like a train wreck. There was some element in this story that kept me curious to see how things would turn out. Would Ms. Wickham/Kinsella/Whatever-her-name is follow in Trollope's footsteps and have both Amanda and Chloe reject their spouses for good? (In almost all Joanna Trollope novels, men are bastards and women are far better off without them.) Would Hugh save Philip's job? Would the dreadlocked Aussie nanny hired by Hugh and Amanda end up sleeping with Chloe's sixteen year old, hormonal son? All these tantalizing plot lines await you if you should decide to check this book out -- but honestly, I'd recommend that you wait for the next Sophie Kinsella book (or if you're feeling particularly rabid toward men, why not pick up some of Joanna Trollope's better books - "The Choir" and "The Rector's Wife" being two engaging novels which will make you hate men for days afterward?)

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