Rachel Campbell and Claire West were the best friends growing up in a small English village. But when an incident tears them apart, they go their separate ways and lose touch. Years later, Rachel finds herself taking care of her disabled mother, her sisters and her nephew, with her job as a house cleaner for the area's richest families the only thing keeping them afloat. Claire's return to Hartley-by-the-Sea is the last thing either of them expected. But between a broken engagement and family who thinks she has a drinking problem, Claire needed somewhere to escape to. When Claire's brother Andrew asks Rachel to keep an eye on his sister, neither woman is too pleased. But as everything around them seems to fall apart, the former friends realise that they truly do need each other. Now and Then Friends is a touching story of how childhood friendships shape us and how those bonds are never truly broken. (LB)
Advertising executive Martha has been trying to get pregnant for years. After her fifth round of IVF fails, she and Rob decide that's it for them. When Martha's friend, Alex, falls pregnant at 35, she realises she's so not ready to have a baby. She has no man in her life, she works part-time as a barista and her tiny walk-up apartment is no place for children. Martha asks her whether she'd consider going ahead with the pregnancy so they could adopt the baby. Alex agrees but over time starts feeling conflicted about her decision. I began this book thinking about how I've read so many books with a similar 'friend offers the ultimate gift' theme - but then a development occurs which takes this book to a whole new level. Grab the tissues because you'll need them as this highly emotionally story reaches its tragic outcome. The author handles the issues with great sensitivity and understanding.