Mixed Doubles (by Jill Mansell)

Having read and enjoyed 'Perfect Timing', by Jill Mansell, I decided I would look for a few more of her books. I came across this one in a charity shop, in excellent condition; the cover wasn't very appealing (the more recent editions are considerably more attractive) but I thought I'd try it anyway.

'Mixed Doubles' is the story of three young women in their early 30s, who have been best friends for many years. Dulcie is, to all appearances, happily married to a rather nice guy called Patrick. He's considerate and good-looking, and works very hard. Rather too hard, in Dulcie's estimatation, as he refuses to take time off and she barely sees him. Dulcie is rather impetuous, with good ideas that don't always pan out the way she intended... and she decides that her new year's resolution is to get divorced.

Pru's husband is not such a pleasant man; he drinks too much and is a womaniser, although Pru - whose self-esteem is pretty low - can't imagine life without him. So her resolution is simply to stay married.

As for Liza - she's single, and has had no problem attracting any man she likes. Unfortunately, she gets bored with each one within a few weeks. She's had enough of this, and decides that she would like to get married; the only problem is that she hasn't yet met anyone whom she would like to marry...

The book follows their year, and all their love-lives, with several lively sub-plots involving various other characters. I found the sheer number a bit overwhelming at times and found myself forgetting who was whom, but it wasn't a huge problem.

I suppose this is classic chick-lit, with rather shallow people who appear to leap into bed with as many people as they can... and yet, I kept reading, wanting to know how the various plots would resolve, and whether any of the three friends would achieve her resolution - and, indeed, whether they would remain on speaking terms with each other.

Despite their rather childish behaviour at times, I did find myself warming to all three of the main characters before the end, feeling pleased when some of their problems were resolved.

This would be fine for holiday reading; there's nothing overtly sexual (although a great deal goes on off-stage) and it's not at all demanding.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 27th March 2011

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