Saturday, 20 January 2007

All Because of You by Melissa Hill

All Because of You
Melissa Hill
Poolbeg €14.99

NOTHING is more maddening than wilfully inefficient people. “Oh, you’re so lucky to be together,” they say, dimwittedly, maddeningly, after someone finds their dog or rescues their computer from viruses.

And Tara, the heroic life coach in Melissa Hill’s new bestseller, has an inefficient sister of the first water. Emma sulks her way through life. She can’t get or hold a decent job.

It wasn’t her job that she was bored at school while perfect Tara had perfect marks. She can’t help it if she’s a dull, pregnant failure while Tara has a gorgeous husband and a great job and drives a glossy convertible.

But Melissa Hill is the master of what Aristotle used to call peripeteia – the reversal of fortune. So the contented reader, sitting down by a well-stoked fire with a glass of wine by her side and cat on lap, knows what to expect.

Devilish twists.

The twists are devilish enough to please here - but Hill's let herself down in a way. She's not playing up to her game.

Because the plot of Emma's pregnancy, and the subplots of her sister Tara and Tara's friends Liz and Natalie take an aeon to unreel.

Surprises that should have been sprung in succession like a series of fantastic fireworks all explode with a pop and a bit of a fizzle towards the end, after a long time of hand-wringing and discussion. But it's still funny and an enjoyable read.

Tara and Glenn are at the centre. Tara's the one who has it together, with her life-coaching job and a calm, balanced relationship with geeky, talented Glenn.

Liz, Tara's old pal, is finding the move back to Castlegate tough. She and her husband, Eric, set up a boarding kennels in his hometown, but now Eric is away at work all the time while Liz is in the doghouse, brooding that maybe Eric's the father of Emma's baby.

And Natalie - well, Natalie is rapidly turning into a bunny-boiler. Every new man she meets is Mr Perfect, and she has him fitted out for the groom on top of the wedding cake before she even knows him.

Fun and frolics, full of laughs and oopses.


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