The suicide of Andrew Ryecart in a small English town is about to affect the lives of four women in very different ways.

His wife Philippa has spent years dominated by Andrew, playing the part of the dutiful wife. His death forces her to deal with his failed business and personal finances. It also allows her to stand on her own for the first time. Getting a job and bringing her children home from boarding school mark the start of her new life.

The closing of Andrew's factory has left Sally's husband jobless, forcing her to work more hours. She also finds herself attracted to another man. Her husband Joel faces change and feels his manhood threatened, as does Mark, whose live-in girlfriend Deborah's career is on the upswing as his plummets.

Phillipa's counselor Elizabeth must deal with the fact that some people are trying to force her husband into retirement, and she doesn't know what she can do to help him.

Ms. Jordan tackles the very serious problems facing many today. She is skilled at grabbing your emotions from the very first page but some might find the somber storyline too dispiriting. (Dec., 544 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Debbie Richardson