In the Greater Scheme of Things is the second book in Heather MacQuarrie’s trilogy, a family saga full of secrets, but it can be read as a stand-alone contemporary romance.
In a surprising first chapter, the heroine introduces her newly created persona of Francine Martin, a French girl who speaks perfect English, but we gradually discover that she is in fact an English girl who speaks fluent French and she is trying to escape an unhappy marriage which has only lasted 3 months. Her deceit, when surrounded by kind friends and employers, is difficult to understand, but the tragic suicide of her mother, during their honeymoon has obviously left her in shock.
Francine is amazingly lucky. She finds a job looking after the baby son of an Anglo-French couple, who soon become good friends. After a few months, romance comes into her life again, but she maintains her anonymity believing there is no chance for personal happiness in this make believe world which she has created.
Alongside Francine’s story we are told of the break-up of another marriage, as Evie O’Sullivan discovers during a holiday in the Algarve that her husband Liam has betrayed her. It is difficult to keep this in mind while following the major plot but it fits into the action towards the end of the novel.
Like Heather MacQuarrie’s earlier book, A Voice from the Past, the plot is fast moving and complicated. There is coincidence and luck and towards the end there are so many active characters that without having read the first book you will struggle to keep up. I found Kirsten, the tactless character who always put her foot in it, so lifelike and somehow you couldn’t help feeling sorry for her. At times I wanted less plot and more description but twists and surprises certainly keep you reading to the very end.
Heather MacQuarrie was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and now divides her time between her home there and her holiday apartment in Portugal. She is happily married to Ross and they have two sons and one young granddaughter. Heather recently left a long career in teaching to pursue other interests and concentrate on her writing. In the Greater Scheme of Things is the sequel to her first novel.