Separate Beds by Elizabeth Buchan

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Separate Beds by Elizabeth Buchan

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A bombshell gives a couple the chance to do something about their foundering marriage. Recommended as an insightful, intelligent read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: September 2010
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0141019895

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Annie and Tom Nicholson looked like the sort of people you would envy. Both had rewarding jobs, Tom in the World Service and Annie in hospital management. They had a lovely home and three grown-up children. But all is not as it seems. For five years they have had separate existences after a family row when Tom caused his elder daughter to walk out of the house and never return. There hasn't been a catalyst which would have caused them to separate but Tom moved into his daughter's vacated room and he and Annie have lived together - but apart. It could have gone on indefinitely but then Tom came home one day and dropped the bombshell which could well finish them off.

Gradually though the family have to adapt to radically changed circumstances. Tom and Annie's son Jake returns home with his daughter Maisie when his marriage breaks down and when Tom's elderly mother moves in with them the house is overflowing with four generations of the same family. It's a chance to go back and reassess what has happened, to build bridges, but will Tom and Annie take the chance at happiness or is the marriage really on the rocks?

You know what you get with Elizabeth Buchan. She's a seasoned and shrewd observer of the middle-aged woman and you know Annie Nicholson not from a physical description but because of her small actions – her love of the bottom sheet on the bed being stretched tight as a drum, her willingness to do her best by everyone (even her difficult mother-in-law) and her loyalty to her friends. You'll know Tom too – the man whose life is in his job, who takes his confidence and stature from the skill with which he does it and who has neglected the family more than just a little in getting to where he is.

Their children shine from the pages too. Jake is a craftsman, perhaps a little of a dreamer, but when his marriage breaks up his daughter Maisie is his first concern. His love for her is fierce and uncompromising. It was Mia, his twin, who left the family home five years ago and her departure left a hole in Jake – but Mia hovers over the story, a loss of their own making but one which they are unable to put right. Emily, the youngest child, has always felt something of an outsider, but when circumstances force her to change her ambitions she surprises even herself. Above all though it's a thought-provoking look at how a modern family copes in a situation which used to be common-place.

It's a book to settle down and enjoy. Don't think of it as chick-lit, even if the cover might make you think it is, because it is far, far better than that. Think of it as intelligent, insightful fiction which most women and many men will enjoy and draw something from. Buy it - it's a book you'll read again - in fact, you'll probably get more from the second time around. It would make an excellent holiday read if you like something more thought-provoking than the latest bonkbuster. If you're a fan of Margaret Forster then you're sure to enjoy this book.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Buy Separate Beds by Elizabeth Buchan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Separate Beds by Elizabeth Buchan at

Buy Separate Beds by Elizabeth Buchan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Separate Beds by Elizabeth Buchan at


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