The term Chick Lit is an umbrella term that covers a huge range of books -frothy improbable fairy stories, raunchy stories about new women verging on soft porn and intelligent books about women living the sort of life that most of us could identify with in some way. The only things they have in common are that the main characters are female and they all have similar covers.
Unsuitable Women is up the intelligent end of the spectrum. I read it on a vile Saturday in April - torrential wind, howling gale and as dark as a day can be - and I enjoyed it hugely. After eleven years Aurora (Rory) has been dumped by her lover, Martin. She moves back to her Aunt Lydia's boarding house, where Lydia, an ex-actress, and her two lodgers Percy and Eleanor, welcome and comfort her.
Rory works for an upmarket magazine called Country House. She feels insecure, believing that she is not posh enough to fit in. When her column is axed she uses advice from one of colleagues, that because her suitable boyfriend has cheated on her perhaps she ought to try out some unsuitable men, as the subject matter of a new column. The fallout from this decision forms the basis for the rest of the story. The results are funny, poignant and highly enjoyable.
The one weak point was, I thought, the character of the boyfriend, Martin. We have met him so many times before. He is the flip side of the masterful hero - dictatorial, one dimensional, humourless and boring. I do not believe that Rory would have stuck with him for eleven years, no matter how besotted she was when she was eighteen. However, it's a minor flaw. The other characters, aged thesps Percy and Eleanor, the editorial staff at Country House, Jim the plumber and the ghastly unsuitable men are all great. This is a good read.