In the Greater Scheme of Things is the second book in Heather MacQuarrie’s trilogy, a family saga full of secrets, but it can be read as a stand-alone contemporary romance. In a surprising first chapter, the heroine introduces her newly created persona of Francine Martin, a French girl who speaks perfect English, but we gradually discover that she is in fact an English girl who speaks fluent French and she is trying to escape an unhappy marriage which has only lasted 3 months. Her deceit, when surrounded by kind friends and employers, is difficult to understand, but the tragic suicide of her mother, during their honeymoon has obviously left her in shock. Francine is amazingly lucky. She finds a job looking after the baby son of an Anglo-French couple, who soon become good friends. After a few months, romance comes into her life again, but she maintains her anonymity believing there is no chance for personal happiness in this make believe world which she has created. Alongside Francine’s story we are told of the break-up of another marriage, as Evie O’Sullivan discovers during a holiday in the Algarve that her husband Liam has betrayed her. It is difficult to keep this in mind while following the major plot but it fits into the action towards the end of the novel. Like Heather MacQuarrie’s earlier book, A Voice from the Past, the plot is fast moving and complicated. There is coincidence and luck and towards the end there are so many active characters that without having read the first book you will struggle to keep up. I found Kirsten, the tactless character who always put her foot in it, so lifelike and somehow you couldn’t help feeling sorry for her. At times I wanted less plot and more description but twists and surprises certainly keep you reading to the very end.
As Francine Martin watches her new husband drive off into the night she realises she doesn't want to be near him anymore. His offhand attitude towards her mother's death and his family's obvious dislike of her is just too much for her and she makes a plan to get away and start a new life where he can't find her. Fluent in French she decides to give herself a whole new identity as a native French woman and answers an advert in the paper for the position of Nanny to the Leclerc family. When Elaine Leclerc interviews Francine she is doubtful at first due to her lack of references but soon warms to her when she sees how good she is with her baby son and gives Francine the job. All is going well until Elaine gives Francine a free pass to her gym which sets off a series of events which puts her job in jeopardy and her emotions in turmoil.
Heather MacQuarrie has written beautifully about the modern day extended family here and the complexities of those relationships. She has taken a typical family of today where broken relationships, death and divorce have created a mixed bag of interesting and vibrant people and interrelationships which result in some very juicy material to write about. True love, lies, regrets and betrayals run frequently through but things are not necessarily how they first seem and Ms MacQuarrie has done an excellent job in building the suspense and giving us characters to care about. Some characters the reader warms to and wants a positive end for and some are the real villains of the clan who, we hope, will get what's coming to them.
This is the second book in a trilogy from Heather MacQuarrie and does need to be read after the first one A Voice From the Past to understand exactly what is going on with the characters and their backgrounds/family links. I am looking forward to the last book in the series Blood Is Thicker which is due out the end of June. An excellent series to get your teeth into and perfect to take on holiday.
An excellent follow on to A Voice From The Past. This is another good read from this author. It is not obvious at first what the link between this and her previous book is, which makes for a good story. The characters are so well written that I almost feel I know them! I look forward to the next book.