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Summary: Since they can't sell their house, they rent it out to a couple that seriously complicates their lives.
Note: I was given a copy of this book by the publisher.
In direct contrast to the decadence of the Shopaholic series, author Madeleine Wickham (who also writes as Sophie Kinsella) has written a surprisingly deep and relevant book about finances, love and marriage, struggles and pride.
The pride aspect of this book is important, because I think pride (or image) must be even more important to the British than it is to Americans.
Pride keeps Liz from selling her house, even at a loss. Jonathan and Liz had one buyer interested, but delayed and lost their only sale in almost a year. Meanwhile, they are carrying TWO mortgages, that of their new business and their old house, while their teen daughter sneaks back into their old garage to have an occasional cigarette.
Marcus, their estate agent (realtor to us Yanks), wants to prove to his stuffy cousin and co-owner that he can still wheel and deal with the best of them. Marcus' wife, Anthea, is worse than a helicopter parent - she's like a hummingbird parent, constantly droning in her sons ears about how academically successful they might be. She even has her son apply for a scholarship, when they absolutely don't need the money.
But Liz and Jonathan do get a renter, and instead of it being the solution, it causes more problems.
I won't give away much more, but this book is a perfect example of Brit Lit (as opposed to Chick Lit). The dialogue, the thinking, character development and setting really fit the Brit Lit niche. It doesn't have the giggly silliness even though there are funny moments.
*** Please note: This book was originally published in 1996 - a whole 14 years ago - yet the strained finances are more topical than they would be even 5 years ago and the book has not been Americanized. Idioms and phrases are kept as authentic.