Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman Review
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Rose's husband of twenty-five years leaves her for her assistant. Worse still, she soon finds herself unemployed. She and her husband, Nathan, have two grown children who no longer live at home, but she still cares for an elderly mother, an elderly neighbor and an elderly cat. How will she ever survive?

Given the title, I was anticipating something on the order of Bridget Jones's 25th Diary. You know, a story with lots of crazy relatives, outrageous scenes of betrayal and abandonment, cat fights, and one-liners. I couldn't wait for Rosie to whip out some put-downs to devastate the rhymes-with-witch who stole her husband and her job. But right from the start, this novel avoided the easy, cheap humor implied in the title. Instead, Buchan has written a realistic portrait of a woman who rises above this comic novel situation. Buchan completely turns the whole enterprise around into one of the most compassionate books I've read in a long time.

Start reading and you'll be drawn in very easily. The advantage of the soap-opera intro is that it propels you into the story before you catch on that things aren't progressing the way you'd expect. The book starts with some classic elements of retribution. There is the aforementioned back-stabbing coworker and Rose's Scruples-like fashion transformation with the help of a convenient Parisian friend (and what woman wouldn't love to have one of those?) There's a daughter on the eccentric side, a former lover who casts a long shadow and peripheral characters that initially show Rose no mercy. Yet soon every character reveals a deeper side as their own stories develop and progress off the page. There are no throwaway characters here, and it makes for a rich brew of a story.

Don't let the bait-and-switch effect of the title and opening scenes confuse you. This is an elegant, well-crafted story about mature people. Rose faces and conquers outrageous circumstances with the dignity of royalty. If living well is truly the best revenge, then maybe there's revenge in here after all. Well done, dear girl, well done.

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