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Playing House    by Patricia Pearson order for
Playing House
by Patricia Pearson
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Frannie Mackenzie has only been dating Calvin Puddie for a short time, but now she thinks she might be pregnant. Both are Canadian transplants to New York City, Frannie is an editor and Calvin a musician in an experimental jazz band. Frannie's first clues of impending motherhood appear suddenly. Her breasts seem to have grown overnight and become excruciatingly painful, and soon afterwards she throws up in the sweater display at The Gap. After the pregancy test turns blue, Frannie needs to decide how to spring the news on Calvin.

On a trip to Toronto to seek her parents' advice, Frannie is stopped at the border and told her visa has expired and she will not be allowed to return to the U.S.. She arranges to move into her brother and sister-in-law's house when they travel to Europe, and to her surprise, Calvin accepts the news of the pregnancy joyfully and moves in with her. How will they handle pregnancy and parenting? Will it cement their relationship, or tear it apart?

Playing House is the first novel by Patricia Pearson. It's fresh and funny. The author hits the emotions and incidents of everyday life during pregnancy and parenthood right on key. Frannie is hilarious, her comments about mothering mirrored my own experience so well that I often had tears running down my face from laughter. She states about motherhood, 'Women do this. Women do this so often that nobody even remarks upon it. It is never the plot of a novel ... Nobody considers it dramatic enough even to mention, and therefore, it is not dramatic.' Anyone who has endured the long, sleepless times right after having a baby will nod their heads at the truth of statements made by both Frannie and Calvin.

Though the chapters are short, the entire novel moves quickly. The supporting characters are unique individuals who add interest to the story. It is written from Frannie's point of view, and I felt I got to know her thoughts and motivations quite well. It would have been interesting to know what Calvin was thinking and feeling also, to give the story additional depth. Readers will not be disappointed with the spot-on descriptions of parenting in Playing House. It is entertaining chick lit sure to please those who are tired of the same old formulaic romance.

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