Town House (£15.99)

47-year-old May, married to Clem for 27 years with six sons, wakes up one morning to discover her husband's secret activities have left her facing threats of eviction and poverty. As if her life wasn't hectic enough - dealing with her eccentric great aunt-in-law Esmee and her handicapped 19-year-old son Johnny - May discovers her husband is a criminal and is having an affair with her best friend's daughter. Needless to say, her world begins to fall apart.

Enter a large guardian angel called Ambrose. Ambrose, whom only May can see, appears at regular intervals, holds her hand, keeps her calm and spouts religious and philosophical advice. The only thing that keeps May sane (apart from Ambrose) during this extraordinary period in her life, is her Dictaphone and her literary classes. In which she is persuaded to write her life story…

Purcell's long awaited fifth book is a disappointment, the plot is disjointed and although the overall concept is interesting, the story simply doesn't mesh as well as in Purcell's other novels (Falling for a Dancer). It is hoped Purcell will return to her usual form next time.

Charley Mayne