Book review: One Night Only by Sue Welfare

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If chick-lit featuring the standard belles, babies and beaux doesn’t float your boat, then check out the clever novels of Sue Welfare.

Avon publishers, an imprint of Harper Collins, now have a stable full of thoroughbred romantic fiction writers, proving that a love story doesn’t have to be a one-way race.

One Night Only, Welfare’s funny, warm and perceptive tale of a fifty-something fading soap star bucks the trend with its concentration on fame, friendship and family rather than the stock-in-trade ‘will she, won’t she find Mr Right?’

Welfare’s winsome tale entertains and amuses but it also asks serious questions about the ethics of our celebrity culture, the uncertainties of middle age and the pitfalls of wondering what might have been.

She writes with touching insight and a wry appreciation about the insecurities that beset women as they age, contradicting the old myth that growing older brings increased confidence and a sense of mellow acceptance...

Fed up of feeling like a ‘washed-up has-been,’ Helen Redford is 52 and not yet ready to kiss goodbye to her acting career.

Her starring role in soap opera ‘Cannon Square’ is now just a fading memory so her agent and ex-husband Arthur is keen for her to take part in popular TV show ‘Roots’ which traces the past life of celebrities old and new.

Helen is not too keen but accepts that it’s a better way to revive a showbiz career than following the bush tucker route or advertising funeral insurance.

But what’s really worrying Helen is the thought of going back to her home town and digging up ghosts from her youth that she has spent years trying to bury.

Helen has a boyfriend, the handsome choreographer Bon Fisher, a good 14 years younger than herself and delving into her past might give him more time to spend with his new agent, the young, blonde and gorgeous Libby Sherwood.

It’s a real dilemma for Helen ... does she get on with the here and now, or face the dangers of finally getting rid of the skeletons in her cupboard?

Welfare’s clever story has a double perspective in which we view Helen’s life in the past and present, allowing us to build our own picture of the events that have shaped her.

Grounded in common sense but still bubbling with humour and some unpredictable twists and turns, One Night Only is the kind of relaxed and enjoyable novel that appeals to ‘girls’ of any age.

(Avon, paperback, £6.99)