Eloise Elliot is marking her milestone 30th birthday in The Daily Post’s conference room surrounded by mangy-looking helium balloons, dismal egg and watercress sandwiches and an uninspiring bunch of semi-strangers.
They do say that no man is an island and Eloise has always been happy to be the exception to that rule – until now.
Much-loved Dublin writer Claudia Carroll can’t put a foot wrong with her funny, sunny novels which are guaranteed to brighten up the darkest of winter days.
Her latest wry romp reads rather like a feelgood fable, a sort of modern fairytale with the power to energise, enchant and entertain, and perfectly pitched to appeal to all those lovers of love stories.
Carroll’s research took her to the offices of The Irish Times where the then editor Geraldine Kennedy gave her an eye-opening crash course in the day-to-day realities of juggernaut journalism.
The result is a sparkling story full of lovable characters, irreverent, earthy humour and a gently unfolding love story that will melt the heart of all true romantics.
Eloise is married to her job as one of the youngest newspaper editors in Ireland. She’s respected and revered by her peers and she’s at the top of her game but, as her big birthday approaches, she is unexpectedly hit by a long, sharp pang of loneliness.
Realising she has no friends, no ‘significant other’ and rarely sees her family, Eloise suddenly has a ‘road-to-Damascus’ moment. She makes a lightning-quick, clear-headed decision to have a baby – not with an elusive ‘Mr Right’ but with a sperm donor.
One successful trip to the sperm bank and almost three years later, Eloise is the adoring mother of a gorgeous little girl, Lily, but juggling a high-powered job with motherhood is not easy and when she finds herself without childcare she sends an SOS to her sister Helen in Cork.
However, it’s when Lily starts asking about her ‘daddy’ that Eloise really starts to feel under pressure. ‘I do have a dad and one day he’ll come for me,’ Lily belligerently tells the other kids at pre-school.
Eloise decides there’s nothing for it – she’s going to have to find Lily’s father. After all, she chose the perfect donor so surely there won’t be any surprises ... or would that be just too good to be true?
Carroll’s quirky, clever story flows with the effortless ease that has become a hallmark of her writing. A cute and cuddly winter warmer for all chick-lit fans.
(Avon, paperback, £7.99)