Madeleine Wickham was born in London. She read PPE at Oxford and published her first novel, The Tennis Party, while working as a financial journalist. Since then she has written A Desirable Residence, Swimming Pool Sunday, The Gatecrasher, The Wedding Girl, Cocktails for Three and Sleeping Arrangements, all published by Black Swan. She is also the author of several number one bestselling novels published by Black Swan under the name of Sophie Kinsella. She lives in London with her husband and family.
In her second comedy of manners, following her witty and charming The Tennis Party, Wickam chronicles the experiences of three families at various junctures of middle age whose lives intersect, initially, in suburban London. Liz and Jonathan Chambers have just taken a major financial step in buying Silchester Tutorial College when Liz returns to her family's recently vacated London house to meet with Marcus Witherstone, her real estate agent, who has arranged a viewing for a prospective renter, Ginny Prentice. "Sometimes I wonder why we didn't just stay put, with our nice little comfortable lives. But, you know, life's about more than just being comfortable," Liz muses that afternoon, defining the story's chief concern: the fear that life will hold no further delights and surprises. The characters' identity crises lead them into various ventures, illicit affairs and illegal business deals in their attempts to fight the clock and the prospect of commonplace existence. The succession of attachments and separations between these families are entertainingly related, for Wickham has a clever eye that renders her characters' emotions and fears universal rather than stereotypical. Especially well wrought are the relationships on the periphery: the tension and compassion between Jonathan Chambers and his sulky teenaged daughter; the curious menage of Ginny and Piers Prentice and their friend, Duncan. The narrative is a lighthearted romp through other people's lives, with a ring of truth that adds a bittersweet edge. (Mar.)
"Wonderfully entertaining."-"Daily Telegraph"
Following The Tennis Party (LJ 3/1/96), Wickham's delightful tale of entanglements examines the manners and morals of three family units in suburban London. Teachers Liz and Jonathan Chambers have a difficult adolescent daughter, two mortgages, an old home, and a new business, Silchester Tutorial College. When real estate mogul Marcus Witherstone finds tenants for the Chambers's old house, their finances improve. However, personal entanglements create problems for Liz and Marcus, as well as for 14-year-old Alice and the tenants, Piers and Ginny. While circumventing the consequences of deceit and guilt, the main characters acknowledge and rectify mistakes, thus ensuring a satisfying completion. Recommended for popular collections.‘Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, Md.