Jessie Holland and Erin Delahanty have been best friends for ages. Years ago, Jessie was the one content to marry her high-school sweetheart and settle in their small Arizona hometown, while adventurous Erin couldn’t wait to escape to big, bad New York City. In an ironic twist of fate, today Erin is the one married and settled in Arizona, a B&B owner with a precocious teenage daughter, while Jessie is still single and a journalist on the rise in New York.
Neither is fully happy with her life, though. Jessie is frustrated with her just-divorced boyfriend’s inability to commit even as Erin’s hitherto strong but silent husband rocks her world by suddenly leaving. An idea for an article inspires Jessie to exchange places and lives with Erin for six months in a bid to answer that eternal question – is the grass really greener on the other side? What they’re about to discover in their new lives is certain to change their lives forever.
Eileen Goudge has created a wonderful story about two friends whose lives have gone off on tangents utterly contrary to their plans, but who are given a rare opportunity to answer all those unanswered, wistful and persistent “what if” questions thanks to a magazine article. The author slowly builds up the two characters, and without realizing it, the reader gets utterly caught up in their unfolding lives, personal dramas, dreams and realities. The challenges the two women face, the temptations and the choices that they’re bombarded with when they take on each other’s lives, and the way they slowly change are as surprising as they are intriguing.
The real suspense doesn’t lie in how they live or manage those stolen six months but in whether, after those six months in each other’s shoes, they’ll even want to return back to their previous lives. This emotional roller-coaster of a story whirls and weaves a serpentine path through love, passion, friendship and heartbreak and leaves readers with the satisfaction of having read of one of the most compelling and moving novel in recent times, one which is effective without being overly sentimental.