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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Then Came You

Then Came You
Jennifer Weiner
Atria, 2011

The plans of four women are thrown together when an aging second wife, surgically enhanced and carefully falsified, fails to get pregnant for her rich husband. India, not her real name, has been attempting pregnancy through in-vitro procedures even though she suspects she’s too old at 43 (not her real age) to get pregnant. Marcus, her truly generous and nice husband, will do anything to make her happy, so they decide to hire a surrogate to have the baby for them.

Jules is a senior at Princeton. Beautiful and smart, she is willing to donate her eggs so that she can pay for her addict father to finally get the help he needs at an in-patient facility known for their success rates. But Jules still finds herself wondering about any babies that her eggs have produced, especially after she discovers true love with her best friend.

Annie is the mother of two little boys. She and her husband own an old farmhouse out in the country badly in need of repairs. Frank, her husband, does what he can to provide for the family but his TSA job just doesn’t pay enough to cover all the bills. Annie decides to become a surrogate in order to help the household, but Frank doesn’t want to accept help if it means he has to watch his wife carry someone else’s baby.

Bettina is Marcus’s grown daughter who suspects that her father’s new wife is not all she pretends to be. She hires a private detective to investigate India, but when she discovers how rampant the lies are, she finds herself reluctant to break her father’s heart again. Bettina’s mother was the one to leave the marriage, and Bettina misses her terribly now that she has moved to Arizona to join a cult. Not knowing what else to do, she holds onto the information that the detective discovered, and soon discovers a new relationship herself.

When Marcus, the soon to be father, has a heart attack, India panics and flees the country. She only wanted the baby in order to bind Marcus to her and provide a little insurance policy – she can’t be a single parent. Bettina is shocked to discover that she is now the baby’s guardian in the absence of both father and mother. Annie finds that she misses the baby she carried for nine months, so she helps when she can. And Annie, the egg donor, also becomes involved in caring for the child, who Bettina names Aurora. In this situation, it truly takes a village to raise a child.

Despite my initial worries that Jennifer Weiner was trying to channel Jodi Picoult with this story straight out of the newspaper, I enjoyed this book. I’ve always loved Weiner’s writing, from the very first (and best!) novel. I love her humor, her strong female characters, and the very real conflicts they face. This book is no different, except that there isn’t quite as much humor as her first (and best!) novel. The plot may have been plucked from the headlines, but the characters have real life struggles, make mistakes, and try to fix them in the end.


Other novels by this author:
Good in Bed (2001)
In Her Shoes (2002)
Little Earthquakes (2004)
Goodnight, Nobody (2005)
Certain Girls (2008)
Best Friends Forever (2009)
Fly Away Home (2010)

Other titles you may enjoy:

Watermelon by Marion Keyes (1998)
When her husband, James, leaves her after she delivers her first child, Claire retires to her family in Dublin, where she slowly recovers from the experience, giving James a big surprise when he shows up again.

Get Lucky by Katherine Center (2010)
After an inappropriate email causes Sarah Harper to lose her job, she goes home to Houston to spend Thanksgiving with her sister, Mackie. After years of trying, Mackie has given up on having children. As Mackie prepares to sell the nursery on eBay, Sarah gets an idea that may fix everyone's problems.

Wives Behaving Badly by Elizabeth Buchan (2006)
Minty Lloyd is now the second wife to her husband, Nathan--but she is shunned by his friends, despised by his grown children, and haunted by her very much alive, and quite reborn, predecessor Rose. Yet after a shocking phone call, Minty finds herself united with an unexpected ally--the woman she once betrayed.

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