I have come to a very important conclusion: Silly British chick lit is my absolute favorite book genre of all time. Few things make me happier/feel better about life than the lighthearted writing of Jill Mansell, Sophie Kinsella/Madeleine Wickham, and Marian Keyes (she’s Irish, but we can consider that under the British umbrella, no?), and while I will still try to expand my reading horizons, I will spend 90% of my reading time on that genre. I am very happy with this conclusion/decision, if you couldn’t tell.
So the latest book in this genre that I read is Madeline Wickham’s Cocktails for Three, about three ladies who work together at fictional publication The Londoner and meet for cocktails — duh — every first of the month. Maggie Drakewood is the editor about to go on maternity leave and secretly completely freaked out about it; Roxanne Miller is the freelance travel writer (couldn’t think of a more perfect job if I tried) seeing a married man whose identity she refuses to reveal; and Candice Brewin is a writer/editor secretly carrying around a great deal of guilt about something from her past. At their last cocktail meetup before Maggie’s maternity leave, these ladies’ secrets start to spin out of control thanks to one Heather Trelawney (could there be a more British last name?).
A waitress at the cocktail bar and a blast from Candice’s past, Heather is the daughter of a man who Candice’s father scammed out of a lot of money. Even though it’s many years after her father’s death, Candice feels like she has to make amends with everyone he hurt (or their children) so she pretends to do good deeds for Heather (i.e. finding her a job and rent-free apartment) out of the kindness of her heart, while Heather gladly accepts and pretends she doesn’t recognize Candice other than being an old school chum. This all drives Maggie and Roxanne absolutely mad, but they have problems of their own — Maggie’s husband has insisted on moving to the country and her not going back to work, replacing her best friends and amazing job with a big empty house and an overbearing mother-in-law. To top it all off, motherhood has her completely freaked out, even well into the first few weeks after the baby (Lucia) is born. Meanwhile, Roxanne’s mystery man becomes more and more mysterious in his behavior, and unbeknownst to her it’s because he finds out that he’s terminally ill.
I have to admit, it was tough to read Maggie’s fears and insecurities about motherhood before and after pregnancy because they mimic so many of my own, particularly the physical aspects and utter fear at not knowing what to do or being any good at it. It was honestly much harder to get through those parts of the book than the ones about Roxanne’s boyfriend’s illness (cancer, of course) and even Candice’s grief about her father, which is an interesting change of emotional pace for me.