A fantastic read from start to finish, Sara Mendes da Costa writes with the charming wit of Helen Fielding and sharpness of Sophie Kinsella - S.Blair, reviewer
Ten years ago, Maggie’s heart was utterly broken by the love of her life -the gorgeous Luke Henderson- when he left her after their first, and only, night of passion, never to be seen again. Until now. With Luke back on the scene, Maggie needs answers and some closure.But when he doesn’t even have the courage to show up to their high school reunion, Maggie is left, once again, hurt and confused. Resolved to just get on with her life Maggie doesn’t foresee the arrival of Tony: Luke’s self-assured, tall, dark and handsome younger brother. He makes a long-time-coming beeline for Maggie and shakes up her world. Whether she likes it or not things have just got a whole lot more complicated and she doesn’t even know the half of it.
Recruiting her girlfriends -the unwaveringly optimistic and bubbly Cat, Jenny a feisty femme fatale (and also the brothers’ younger sister!) and Pauline the sensible voice of reason- Maggie tries to navigate herself through the romantic quagmire that is the Henderson brothers. The only thing she knows for sure is that she doesn’t want to settle for second best anymore and whatever the future holds she’s determined to do it her way. But what Maggie doesn’t know is that a plan has been hatched, a game is being played, and she is unwittingly embroiled in the middle. In fact, she’s the pawn on which the game rests and it’s going to take all her strength and resolve to break free and find happiness at last.
For my protagonist, Maggie Parsons, a typical day for her – certainly for a chunk of Peanuts & Eggcups - is spent going to work in the marketing department of a telemarketing company. There she enjoys the company of her work colleagues (and friends) Maureen, Craig and Bill.
The following scene is where Maureen is keen to find out whether Maggie has decided to accept the invitation to her school reunion - where’s she likely to walk smack bang into the path of Luke Henderson, love of Maggie’s life, who left her ten years ago (without explanation) and who she hasn’t heard from since.
‘So, have you made your mind up about the reunion yet?’ Maureen asked eagerly, settling herself down at her desk and taking her hairbrush out of her bag to brush her ‘rather too long for her age’ hair. I had confided in Maureen when the invitation had arrived.
I tutted. ‘No, not yet.’ Taking a large mouthful of hot tea, I swallowed painfully. ‘I really don’t know what to do for the best,’ I admitted.
‘Oh but you have to go, Maggie, I’m dying to know how it all turns out. You never know, your Luke could still be the man of your dreams and two childhood sweethearts could end up falling in love all over again; please go,’ she pleaded.
‘Maybe he won’t go,’ I suggested. ‘Besides he’s not my Luke.’
‘I thought you saw his name on a list somewhere.’
‘I did. It was on the website. But it could just be a ploy to get people to sign up, you know like they did for the first Band Aid concert.’
‘Did they?’ she asked, surprised.
‘So I heard. Something to do with Bob Geldof convincing bands that other bands had already booked, when they hadn’t. Just so the new bands he was pitching would book and then he could convince the original ones to book after all, if you see what I mean; something like that anyway.’ My head began pounding.
Maureen looked very confused and I wondered if I’d got my facts right. Sir Bob had always been a bit of a hero of mine.
‘Well I’m sure they wouldn’t do that for something as important as your school reunion,’ she said seriously.
‘Anyway, why don’t you ask your friend… Julie? Didn’t you say they were related?’
‘Jenny. She’s his sister.’
‘There you go then, a perfect spy.’
I shrugged, trying to appear busy hoping she’d change the subject.
‘Oh Maggie, go on. Why not?’ she asked.
‘Why not what?’
‘Maybe; I’ll think about it. I’ve just got to get this stuff sorted for Justin.’
Craig, having obviously eavesdropped, stuck his head over the partition again.
‘She’s hiding something, Mo’.’ He narrowed his eyes.
Suddenly Maureen, Craig and even Bill, were all staring at me. I blushed heavily.
‘Go away all of you!’ I shooed.
‘Spill!’ Craig fired a paper bullet at me through a makeshift peashooter.
‘Ouch!’ I frowned and began foraging around for food in my desk drawer, finding a half-eaten donut from the previous morning.
‘Look, I just don’t feel comfy talking to Jenny about Luke, that’s all.’
‘Why?’ They all chorused.
‘Oh for goodness sake, she doesn’t really know how things were back then, OK?’ I took a bite from the donut and jam oozed out, spilling onto my lap; typical.
Craig looked like he’d just completed a Rubik’s Cube. ‘I get it! Your bezzy mate doesn’t know you shagged her brother, right?’
‘Be quiet, Craig.’ Maureen passed me a tissue so I could wipe off the spilt jam. After a moment, she put her hand caringly on my arm. ‘Is that it though?’ she asked.
‘Do you think she’d mind?’ Bill sat opposite with his trademark green cardigan, and glasses halfway down his nose, sucking away on a Werther’s Original from the customary packet on his desk.
I had asked myself the very same question time after time. I felt, at some stage, the whole Luke thing would have to come out and I would be forced to come clean with my petite friend. I didn’t relish the idea of that at all. For someone so small, she had rather a large fiery temper.
‘What gives with this Luke bloke anyway?’ Craig asked dismissively. ‘Bet I could show him a thing or two.’
‘Craig, it’s a girl thing.’ Maureen explained. ‘It’s a very special bond between a girl and the boy she lost her virginity to.’
‘Maureen!’ I cried, swivelling around quickly to see who else might have heard.
‘Ahhh lost your cherry to him did ya? No wonder you’re in such a two and eight,’ Craig said, knowingly.
Maureen misted over. ‘Did you absolutely adore him, Maggie?’
‘I guess.’ ‘What does he look like?’
‘I don’t know! I haven’t seen him for ten years. He’s been living in Sweden for the past eight.’
‘So, what was he like back then?’
‘Kind of a young Brad Pitt I suppose, only better; much better,’ I said miserably. I was immediately transported back to my youth and visions of the young Luke flooded my mind. I got quite breathless just thinking about him, but then reminded myself of how it had ended; bastard.
About Sara Mendes da Costa
Sara Mendes da Costa is the voice of the BT Speaking Clock; the fourth person to hold this prestigious title since 1936. A successful, world-renowned voiceover artist, her dulcet tones are easily recognisable on television, radio, film and across countless media. Never far from the press, she’s known for her appearances on BBC Breakfast, ITV This Morning, Children in Need, Wake up to Wogan and The Today Programme, and balances her prolific voiceover career with her passion and commitment as a novelist. Peanuts & Eggcups, her debut novel - hotly anticipated by the industry - is “The perfect & highly addictive reading companion for women’s fiction fans”. ` A lover of laughter, creativity, great storytelling and a wee dram, Sara adores writing novels and seeks to entertain, uplift and inspire. Her upcoming novels: Time & Time Again & Maggie Ever After, are expected in 2017.