Book Review: Separate Beds

The shaky economy plunges a dysfunctional London family into controlled chaos threatening to tear them apart in Buchan’s latest offering that delves into the ties that bind a family together. Annie Nicholson and her husband Tom, wrapped in their careers as hospital administrator and BBC executive, are as disconnected from each other as they are their three grown kids. Daughter Mia has not spoken to either parent since she dropped an emotional bomb five years ago. Mia’s twin brother Jake is trying to maintain a business, raise his baby daughter, Maisie and hold his crumbling marriage together. At twenty-three, Emily the youngest daughter is finding it difficult to make ends meet as a writer.

Shortly after Tom loses his job thanks to “downsizing” at the BBC, Jake moves back home with Maisie. Tom’s mother Hermione must leave the nursing home she was residing at when her financial resources dry up and with nowhere else go, moves in with her son. Suddenly, the acquisition of a state-of-the-art new stove isn’t quite as exciting when the house fills with unexpected residents forcing Annie and Tom to come to terms with their own disintegrating marriage.

Buchan creates a richly drawn world where a family must muddle along as best they can in the face of financial instability, floundering relationships and the unexpected burdens of caring for loved ones. All the bad times forces these characters to examine their lives and loves over the course of eighteen months and decide what is most important. A timely, heartfelt story that is as much a commentary on the cost of modern life in tough times as it is about relationships.

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