19 March 2010

A Stairway to Paradise

by Madeleine St John

The Text Publishing Company. Australian, Romance. Paperback rrp $29.95

Alex is in a marriage where he and his wife Claire are only staying together for the sake of the children. Andrew, Alex’s friend, has been dumped by his wife and has come back to England leaving his young daughter with his ex-wife in America.

Then there is Barbara. Men her own age see her as attractive but these two older men see her as a goddess.

Two years previously Alex had a brief dalliance with Barbara but ended the affair when he decided he couldn’t live a lie. Alex still loves Barbara and over the years tries to dull his feelings by concentrating on his work.

At a chance party, Alex reconnects with Barbara, but also introduces her to Andrew. Andrew too, is besotted with her.

Barbara is confused and doesn’t know which choice to make. Surely if Alex loves her, he will leave his wife? And Andrew, sweet and kind, she could be happy with him.

St John’s short chapter style makes this an easy book to enjoy. You are teased and tugged to read “just one more chapter” – then suddenly you realise you have reached the end. Brilliant.

Madeleine St John’s Essence of The Thing was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1997. She died in 2006.

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