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They don't own a car and are struggling to pay the private school fees and keep the au pair. Then Harriet bumps into James, the boyfriend she dumped at 18, and he's now a recently divorced millionaire ready to help out her charity.

And he seems more than willing to rescue Harriet from her cash-strapped lifestyle. Meanwhile Guy is being seduced to host a TV documentary about safari hunters and is hardly bringing in any income. Yet another tale of a middle-aged mum tempted by infidelity.

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Austen Power Tis the Season. Or because your size jeans are a tight fit? Or because you're going to Lyme Regis for your summer holiday while your friends are off to the Caribbean?

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If you constantly compare yourself with other people, and come off worse in the comparisons, then you will find a soul-mate in Harriet. Her Pooterish self-pity is beautifully skewered; and because it is a self-pity felt by millions, it is easy to identify with the character, if not to like her. If Cristina Odone had stuck to what she does best - sharply observed social satire, backed up by crisp dialogue - the novel as a whole would have packed more of a punch.

Unfortunately, she gets side-tracked into one of those two-a-penny yarns about adultery.

Should Harriet remain faithful to her husband, Guy - decent but dull, inclined to ignore her - or have a fling with her ex-boyfriend James - sexy, successful, attentive to her every need? Personally, I wanted her to have the fling, if only to stop herself worrying about the school fees and how to pay the au pair. But Odone, as befits a former editor of The Catholic Herald, keeps her heroine on a tight sexual leash.

Cristina Odone

The book is an accomplished light read which holds the mirror up to our trivial, status-obsessed age. Love puzzles? Get the best at Telegraph Puzzles. A collection of the best contributions and reports from the Telegraph focussing on the key events, decisions and moments in Churchill's life.

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This book tells the story of the men and women of Fighter Command who worked tirelessly in air bases scattered throughout Britain to thwart the Nazis. The essential gift book for any pet lover - real-life tales of devoted dogs, rebellious cats and other unforgettable four-legged friends. A complete edition of John James Audubon's world famous The Birds of America, bound in linen and beautifully presented in a special slipcase.

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Weather Forecast. Accessibility links Skip to article Skip to navigation. Sunday 22 September Skewering the status-anxious class.