'There are two ways of looking at what we're doing,' Niall said, peering through the candlelight at the box loads of belongings all over the floor. "Essentials for simple living" was what they had all agreed to bring. It didn't look like it. 'One is that we're all as mad as bollocks, and the other is that everyone else is.' When four close-knit ...
'There are two ways of looking at what we're doing,' Niall said, peering through the candlelight at the box loads of belongings all over the floor. "Essentials for simple living" was what they had all agreed to bring. It didn't look like it. 'One is that we're all as mad as bollocks, and the other is that everyone else is.' When four close-knit friends miss their train, escaping Britain's worst rail crash for sixty years, they are confronted with their own mortality. Their current lives juggling city jobs, marriages and children are suddenly not enough. An idyllic but ramshackle Cornish manor beckons and they decamp to the country on a quest for the perfect life. As the renovation of the house begins, a closely-guarded secret threatens to be uncovered. The bricks and mortar of the group's long friendship start to crumble. It soon becomes clear that fresh starts have little to do with geography, and the four of them are left with the harsh choice: should they chase their dream or wake up to reality?
Publishers Weekly, 2003-08-04 On their way back from a wedding, four old friends just miss being killed in a terrible train wreck. Their narrow escape makes them take stock of their lives, and as this rambling first novel begins, they decide to give up their London jobs and move together to the Cornish countryside. Emmy, single mother of eight-year-old Maya, has inherited a Cornish manor house called Bodinnick; Sita, her husband, Jonathan, and their three children move into one upstairs suite, and Niall, Emmy's one-time lover, moves into another. Gregson is sparing with introductory detail, so it is some time before all the various relationships spring into focus, but once they do, the novel gains momentum. Despite the characters' determination to exchange stress for bucolic contentment, troubles lurk. Competent Sita, a doctor, finds work in Cornwall, making unemployed Jonathan feel insecure. Their children-hostile 13-year-old Jay, skittish nine-year-old Asha and baby Lila-are a handful. Meanwhile, Emmy is realizing she isn't over Niall-which is unfortunate, since Niall has taken up with Kat, a bitchy model who visits on the weekends. Niall isn't Maya's father, though he wishes he were, and the mystery of her paternity adds another layer to the story. This is less an escapist fantasy than a sprawling domestic drama, but readers willing to piece together the various relationship puzzles (and navigate the Briticisms) will enjoy Gregson's story of a group of friends struggling valiantly to make their communal experiment work. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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