printed copy

Living Single

Holly Chamberlin

ISBN 9780758275400
Publish Date 4/24/2012
Format Trade Paperback
Categories Kensington, Women's Fiction

From Holly Chamberlin, author of Tuscan Holiday and Summer Friends, comes a witty, insightful novel chronicling a year in one woman’s quest to find love, joy—and herself…

At twenty, singlehood is a lifestyle choice. At thirty-two, it starts to feel like an affliction. Erin Weston has a rewarding PR career, loyal friends, and a wonderful Boston condo. But in between weekend brunches, farmers’ market forays, and dinners in Cambridge and the South End, Erin can’t shake the sense that something’s missing. The traditional ideal—husband, house, clothing-coordinated children—once seemed too obvious, and pride in her accomplishments doesn’t keep the loneliness at bay. Now, ready to venture into uncharted territory, Erin is going to claim the life she thinks she wants. And in the process, she might just figure out exactly what—and who—she really needs…

Praise for the novels of Holly Chamberlin

“Nostalgia over real-life friendships lost and regained pulls readers into the story.” –USA Today on Summer Friends

”An honest, forceful novel about love, family, and sacrifice.” --Booklist on One Week in December

“It does the trick as a beach book and provides a touristy taste of Maine’s seasonal attractions.” --Publishers Weekly on The Family Beach House

Chapter One

January, Boston
January in Boston is probably like January everywhere in America. At least in the sense of its being a month of grand resolutions and well-meant gestures--as well as a month of postholiday disappointment and incipient depression as the resolutions and gestures begin to break down.

Nice time of the year to be born.

I'd just turned thirty-two. And I was a workaholic.

Not really. Though sometimes, especially on those days when I was the only one left in my downtown Boston office after six-thirty, I'd get all panicky and think that if I wasn't very careful I could very easily slip over the line and go from being your typical hardworking single woman to being a painfully skinny spinster, scarily devoted to her filing system and not so secretly in love with her abusive, Scotch-swilling boss.

Or, maybe I would go the other way. Maybe I would wind up a coldhearted, hard-assed, too-tanned, slave-driver type female executive with helmet hair, no husband, and surprisingly few girlfriends.

But I was determined not to allow that slippage to occur, either way. Absolutely not. Because I'd decided I wanted some- thing significantly different for my life.

I wanted legitimacy. The kind that, for a woman, doesn't come even with a solid career.

And my career was solid. In fact, my annual review was scheduled for the following day. If it went well, there was a chance--slim, but I was hoping--that I would be named a senior account executive at EastWind Communications. That's the marketing/PR firm where I'd worked for the past five years. It's a smallish firm, owned by a guy named Terry Bolinger, and its work focuses on nonprofits and organizations that barely make a profit.

I liked being at EastWind.

More information. I lived--and still live--in the South End, officially an historic district of Boston. I own a condo in what was once, way hack in the nineteenth century, a single-family brick house. Think New York brownstones but brick. Thanks to the building department's controls, the structure is still charming, as is the entire block, with its brick sidewalks, huge old trees, and lovely, well-tended front gardens.

I had--and still have--a cat named Fuzzer. And yes, on occasion I was definitely frightened of becoming a looney cat lady. Especially if the single situation persisted for much longer.

Which, I vowed upon turning thirty-two, it wouldn't. It couldn't. Because things were going to change. Five, ten, twenty years ahead when I looked back on my life, I was going to refer to this as The Year. The year I met my husband, the man of my dreams.

Tall or medium height, it didn't matter. Neither did hair or eye color. He'd have a fine intelligence and a large sense of humor, i.e., he would appreciate the Three Stooges as well as Jerry Seinfeld, and Margaret Cho as well as Monty Python's Flying Circus. He would be kind and loving and he'd be a hardworking man, as laziness is, for me, the ultimate turnoff. Above all he would have a huge capacity for love and devotion and treat me like a great gift and be respectful of my parents and tolerate with grace--if not really like--my more difficult friends and family members.

The man of my dreams.

Well. That was the hope, anyway. That I'd meet my husband in the very near future. I didn't have much of a plan. I didn't even make an official resolution. I'd never gotten very far with resolutions. In fact, the last official resolution I'd made--at least, the last resolution I'd remembered making--was during my sophomore year in college when for some unaccountable reason I was dating a born-again Christian and inspired by lust I resolved to spend my life as a missionary in some "godless savage land" Those were his words.

Okay, I knew why I was dating the guy. He was gorgeous. Extremely disturbed, but very, very nice to look at. Which is pretty much all I got to do because, you know, those born-again Christian types aren't into premarital sex. Catholics aren't either, but we all cheat. We're all going to Hell, but it just might be worth it.

Anyway, though my common sense and my experience in the dating trenches and my recently acquired cynicism about everything romantic told me I was nuts to be thinking in terms of finally meeting Mr. Right, my heart, that disturbingly powerful organ, told me otherwise. It told me that if I just approached it with openness, I would, indeed, meet my very own hero.

Okay, sure, delude yourself. Knock yourself out. It's your funeral, Erin.

That was Reason. It spoke to me several times a day. Often, it interrupted my sleep. It just had to share its opinions; it just had to pass judgment.

It was one of those workaholic days.

The phone rang just as I was about to pack up for the fifteen-minute walk home. I debated whether to answer it. I checked my watch. Six-forty-five. Not an unheard-of time for a disgruntled client to call and lodge a lengthy complaint. Then again, maybe it was bad karma not to take the call, being on the verge--possibly--of becoming a senior account executive. I was--am--nothing if not responsible.

I picked up on the fourth ring.

"Erin Weston?'

"Hi. It's me, Abby."

Relief.

"Hi. I wasn't going to pick up the phone. After-hours cranky clients"

Abby laughed. "Tell me about it"

Abby worked--and still works--as a fund raiser for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. A career in development or, if you like, advancement, sounds all sophisticated and civilized until you start to hear stories about the people Abby has to deal with on a daily basis. Mainly, the outrageously childish women of the Brahman set. My take on the situation is that these women have far too much money and far too much free time on their hands. My Grandmother Morelli had a favorite saying, one she usually delivered with an ominous look at my habitually out-of-work cousin Buster: "The devil finds work for idle hands"

Anyway, how Abby hadn't already put one of those vicious, gossipy, nastily meddlesome ladies--potential donors, all--out of her misery, I just didn't know.

Well, I did know. Abby was genuinely nice. The genuinely nice person is a rarity. I am nice but perhaps not genuinely. I mean, I'd never laugh openly at someone with h silly walk but you can be sure I'm guffawing inside.

"What's up?" I said.

"I thought you might want to have dinner. I know it's last minute, but.. "'

"I'd love to" I said and I meant it. Spending time with Abby would be a great way to ignore my mounting nervousness about the next day's review. It also would be a chance to talk about my mother and her latest escapades. Selfish reasons, mostly, for wanting to get together with a friend, but understandable.

About Holly Chamberlin:

CLICK HERE TO READ AN EXCERPT OF THE BEACH QUILT.


Holly Chamberlin was born and raised in New York City. After earning a Master’s degree in English Literature from New York University and working as an editor in the publishing industry for ten years, she moved to Boston, married and became a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband now live in downtown Portland, Maine, in a restored mid-nineteenth-century brick townhouse with Betty, the most athletic, beautiful and intelligent cat in the world. Readers can visit her website at: www.HollyChamberlin.com.


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