Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: A Lost Family Saga

Vinca is seeking a book she read a long time ago, and it's not quite a romance, but holy smokey is it one hell of a plot summary. 

So a bit of backstory about this one.  I picked the book up from an
Irish nurse who I met while on a stopover/vacation in New Zealand
after a semester abroad in Australia.  While in Oz books were a
precious commodity for my classmates and I, especially during the last
couple months that were filled with camping and long, long bus rides.
We would trade them back and forth, often accompanied by long,
elaborate periods of bargaining (“Okay, so I'll give you the Beowulf
retelling in return for Even Cowgirls get the Blues and the really
cheesy scifi about time travel, aliens, and dinosaurs?”  “Throw in
Memoirs of an Erotic Bookseller and you've got a deal.” etc.)  I
continued this practice once I got to New Zealand, trading books with
other travelers I met along the way.  The book I'm looking for I
traded a trio of Agatha Christie mysteries for while in Keri Keri with
aforementioned nurse.  I ended up bringing it back stateside with me,
but forgot it at a friend's dorm I was crashing at, and they donated
it to goodwill when they moved out a couple weeks later, so I never
got to finish it.

Anyway, the book is perhaps less of a romance than a family drama,
though there was a fair amount of romantic elements going on in it.
It was set in Ireland and centered around a family with 3 daughters.
There were basically 4 plots going on in the book, one for each of the
women in the family, and each of their lives was filled with their own
particular Drama.


The Eldest Sister worked in some sort of business (advertising? law?),
and met with a coworker's client cause the coworker was sick or
something.  Anyway, the client is a hot guy (of course), and they end
up hitting it off.  The Drama in this story arc is that Hot Guy is
somewhat recently divorced and has two daughters, and the ex-wife is
not over him at all and gets all jealous of Eldest Sister, and tries
to turn the daughters against her.  The scene I most remember for this
plot is Eldest Sister and Hot Guy's first date – she suggests the
restaurant in a fit of Taking Charge of the Relationship, but didn't
actually know anything about it other than a half-remembered review.
When they get there they're the only ones in the whole place, and the
owner is desperately happy they're there.  Turns out the review Eldest
Sister remembered as “food to die for” was actually “food to die
from,” as the reviewer got food poisoning.  I think they end up having
a nice evening anyway.


The Middle Sister is recently married, and I think is a writer of some
sort?  Perhaps for a soap opera?  Her Drama comes from her new
husband's family hating her (acting all cold and distant), and from
said new hubby turning into an alcoholic.  They go on a ski trip with
some friends and the hubby just goes out drinking every night instead
of spending time with her, and they have a big fight about it, and he
goes off and drinks more.


Youngest Sister is a shop girl at a rather upscale store.  She lives
in an apartment building with a cast of Quirky Neighbors (including
obligatory Gay Best Friend) who she's closer with than her real
family.  She was picked on a lot in school, and still has self esteem
issues because of it, despite now apparently being smoking hot.
There's some issues with her going to her high school reunion and
lying about her life (including a made-up boyfriend with lips like
couch cushions or something like that), but her main Drama concerns
the new Hunky Neighbor that's moved in upstairs, who she has the major
hots for.  Hunky Neighbor seems to be digging her too, and everything
would be peachy except he has a girlfriend already.


The last plot concerns the Mother of the family.  The girls' Father
has been cheating on their mother, who has known about it for a while.
There's a big party planned for their 50th wedding anniversary, and
while at it the Mother get a call from the Other Woman (I can't
remember why she called, jealousy or something).  The Mother decides
she's had enough, makes a big scene at the party, and leaves the
Father.  There's also some Drama with the Father's sister, who lives
with the Mother and Father, and absolutely hates the Mother and
idolizes the Father, thinking the Mother's not good enough for her
precious, perfect brother.


To be honest I'm not sure I even want to finish reading it (it wasn't
really all that great, what with the overdone Drama and rather flat
bad guys), I mostly just wanna know how the various stories ended.
The book got lost just about the time the Mother leaves, which is
mebbe halfway-ish?  So while the title and author would be nice, what
I'm really looking for in this HABO is basically spoilers for the last
half of the book, if that's okay.

GOOD GOD THE DRAMA. So, does anyone remember this book, or at the least perhaps recall how it ended? 



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  1. 1
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    I’ve never read this book, but good golly does it remind me of the sort of twisty, family-drama plot that Marian Keyes writes.

  2. 2
    Vicki says:

    Not a Binchy, is it? Sounds like the sort of thing she does and which I always enjoy. I’ll have to go look that up.

  3. 3
    susannakearsley says:

    I’m pretty sure this is Just Between Us, by Cathy Kelly.

    “Stella lives alone with her young daughter, Amelia, and is quite happy with her life. Then she meets Nick, a dashing man with baggage of his own. Can Stella trust Nick not to hurt her and Amelia? How will his ex-wife and teenage daughters react to the fact that their father has a new girlfriend so quickly after his divorce?

    Tara is newly married to Finn and works as a writer for the show National Hospital. After winning a writing award, Tara is approached by a famous director to polish a script, and she’s ecstatic. Everything appears to be going wonderfully, until Finn starts coming home drunk more and more often. Is it just entertaining clients as Finn claims, or could it be something worse?

    Holly has everyone’s dream job: working at Lee’s, a designer department store – except for the fact that the job isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, and Holly can barely pay her rent. She has great friends but is still insecure from her younger, chubbier days. Will Holly ever find love and fulfillment, or is she destined to be alone for the rest of her life?

    Rose, the mother of the Miller girls, is sick and tired of living a lie. Everyone believes that she and Hugh have the perfect marriage, but it isn’t true. Hugh has been unfaithful to her, carrying on multiple affairs over the course of their 40-year marriage. She doesn’t want to hurt her daughters, but she just can’t go on pretending anymore.”

    Here’s a link:…

  4. 4
    annie says:

    That’s it!! I read this!!! Poppa gets a heart attack, all come to hover over him at the hospital, Momma comes back, after a suitable time away to assert independence.  Holly gets happy, Tara leaves Finn, Stella puts foot down on steps.

  5. 5
    Jo says:

    Thirding the Cathy Kelly thought – I’ve read this book (I think) and immediately thought of Ms. Kelly, who – along with Maeve Binchey – writes novels set predominately in Ireland.

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