Mel Ashton - hardworking and responsible - is tired of her image. Bored with her flat and exasperated by her job, Mel is thinking about making a few changes to her life. The only thing she's not planning to quit is her relationship with David. The trouble is that David - a talented artist - likes Mel just the way she is. He likes her rational approach to life. He is impressed by her ambition, and her calm presence provides the perfect antidote to his unstable intensity. With Mel, David is finally growing up - and he's even growing out of his adolescent obsession with women called Laura. Ten years ago David met an artists' model called Laura. But, intimidated by her beauty, he never approached her...and an obsession was born. A whole string of Lauras followed, and his perfect women was always a Laura until he met Mel. But Mel is changing. And when Edmund, David's elder brother, recommends David to his friend Joss, who wants a portrait painted of his new wife, David's relationship with Mel becomes more precarious than either of them could have imagined. For Joss's wife is the original Laura...
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(178mm x 110mm x 30mm)
Arrow Books Ltd
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UK Kirkus Review »
Susannah Bates second novel takes us on a whistle-stop tour round the hectic social and love lives of a loose-knit group of friends and acquaintances as they lurch from one disastrous affair to the next. Set in fashionable London, the story centres around David, a surprisingly boring portrait artist, and his fiancee, Mel, a high-flying city lawyer. Their relationship is complicated by Davids obsession with girls from his past named Laura, and one in particular who posed as a life model during his student art classes. The latter, now married to a wealthy entrepreneur, is catapulted back into his life when her husband commissions David to paint her portrait. Although the summit of their liaison is a brief encounter in the car park of a motorway service station, the effect on the relationship between David and Mel is predictable enough. This is a light and arguably trivial romantic novel, but for all that it is a compellingly good read. There are darker sides to the story, however, which Bates explores with depth and sensitivity. Mels preoccupations with her private life and career are underscored by the growing realization that her father is, and has been over a period of many years, abusing her mother, and the knowledge that it is now her responsibility to try to do something about it. The authors subtle characterization of the brash and aggressive Yorkshireman and his meek and long-suffering wife contrasts starkly with the glamorous London characters. The darker sides of relationships between the sexes are explored further and in some detail as Bates focuses on a schoolgirl, Alice, who seduces Davids brother Ned in order to gain experience from an older man. She then finds she has bitten off more than she can chew as she moves on to Lauras husband, Joss, who tries to rape her, revealing a deeply unpleasant side to his character which becomes all too apparent as the plot unravels. These more serious themes lift this novel to something more than just another piece of romantic fiction but are not sufficiently dark to stop it being an undemanding and entertaining read. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Susannah Bates
Susannah Bates was born in Suffolk in 1970. She practised law in the City until she gave up to become a full-time writer. Her first novel, Charmed Lives, was published to great acclaim in 2001. She lives in London.