In Just Between Us, Cathy Kelly introduces us to the Miller sisters - Stella, Tara, and Holly - and their mother, Rose. On the outside, these sisters appear to have everything: beauty, impressive jobs, exciting lifestyles, and, in their motherís case, a wonderful and devoted husband. But when you peel back the layers, there is always more to the story.
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 sheís 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 everyoneís dream job: working at Leeís, a designer department store - except for the fact that the job isnít all that itís 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 isnít true. Hugh has been unfaithful to her, carrying on multiple affairs over the course of their 40-year marriage. She doesnít want to hurt her daughters, but she just canít go on pretending anymore.
Just Between Us is a sweet, interesting novel. By the end of the book, itís as if you have known these women for years; Kelly writes with an intimacy that is hard to find in novels. She really is a master at character development.
Of the three stories, Stellaís is the most interesting (although the whole book is compelling and well-written), especially her struggle to come to terms with Tom and what being with him really means. Itís so hard to be in the ďstepmotherĒ position without coming across as horrible. Still, Stella manages the challenge well and is patient with the situation.
The best part of Just Between Us is the development of the relationships between the three sisters and their mother, their slow opening up to one another. They havenít realized that their siblings donít expect their lives to be perfect. The process of each of them discoverint that is nice to read about.
I recommend Just Between Us to fans of Irish fiction or womenís fiction. Itís a well-written, enjoyable book and a delightful read.