Thursday 22 February 2018

Fiction: The Real Liddy James by Anne-Marie Casey

Hodder & Stoughton, €16.99

The Real Liddy James by Anne-Marie Casey
The Real Liddy James by Anne-Marie Casey

Anne Cunningham

Liddy James is an expensive New York divorce lawyer who doesn't believe in divorce. She is sharp, shrewd, wealthy and manically busy. Too busy to see that working 16-hour days for celebrity clients, while rearing her children alone, is too much for her. Mid-40s and at the height of her career when we meet her, she can't see that she's flying too high, Icarus-style.

Liddy's ex-husband's partner Rose, an atheist who believes in miracles, cares for Liddy's eldest son during school term, and when we meet her, she is soft around the edges, a loving partner and motherly type, worrying about her professorial tenure as she hasn't published an academic paper in years.

At first, the reader is persuaded to see Liddy's apparent hubris as capricious and egocentric, while Rose is presented as the embodiment of quiet virtue. But as the plot progresses and Liddy's rebellious teenage son courts trouble - distributing sweets loaded with weed - the back story starts trickling in. Liddy is actually working to support two households, her own and her ex-husband's. And Rose is quite happy not to publish anything to keep her tenure, while someone else bankrolls her (and her partner's) comfortable home and lifestyle.

When Liddy's longtime Colombian maid packs up her job to return home, something has to break. So Liddy does. Spectacularly. On live TV. Anne-Marie Casey's "day-job" is scriptwriting for both TV and stage. This, her second novel, is an extremely funny, mischievous tale in which she forces her readers to make judgements that they must later retract, as she coyly discloses more information. Generous with the digs, too, at the likes of Sheryl Sandberg and her particular brand of - um - 'sisterhood'.

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