Hodder Headline Ireland, €6.99

"You're no spring chicken and you'll have to get fixed up soon. Me and your mother won’t be around forever".

This is a taste of what thirtysomething actuary Marilyn Monroe is getting off her grandmother Brigid. Marilyn still lives at home in No.51 Verbena Avenue with airy-fairy mum Elizabeth and straight-talking Brigid, with great auntie Theresa and her girlfriend just down the road and not a male in sight.

There has been a man drought on Verbena Avenue for many years now, mainly due to the fact that their brief track record in the house was less than exemplary. Grandfather John Joe was a drunk who did a legger on family life and father Niall had a wife and a political career that kept him at bay for all of Marilyn’s life. One Christmas great auntie Theresa’s girlfriend Grace (keep up at the back!) reads in the tea-leaves that men are coming to 51 Verbena Avenue - like it or not.

Bridget who wants to see daughter and granddaughter "fixed up" throws herself into helping this prediction bear fruit, getting fruity herself along the way. Soon there is a man for everyone in the house. They come from the small ads, an incident at the races and through the perseverance of a man who feels love at first sight (and behaves just on the right side of stalking!). It's not all about the men though.

More serious sub-plots drive us onward, involving illness, friendship troubles, a father who emerges after 30 years in exile and the tensions that arise when daughters still live at home when they are over 21.

There is much to admire in Power’s writing: she has pace, energy and eccentric, convincing observation. Power has an offbeat, and often very funny turn of phrase. She times her plot shocks well and maintains the readers’ sympathy for the predicament of her characters. At times though the book trades in stereotypes and often strains credibility: dead people passing on messages in dreams, imaginary fathers offering advice and complete strangers who would do anything for you.

In the most part though, this book resembles manufactured chick-lit only on its surface details. It’s an entertaining and charming read, which should have wide appeal.

Power has already written two novels: 'The Virgo Club' and 'Lost Souls Reunion' and hopefully we will see more from this Irish author.

Mary McCarthy