On the Edge

Written by Peter Lovesey
Review by Lorraine Gelly

When Rose Bell and Antonia Ashton meet outside of Swan & Edgar’s in 1946, it is indeed a life-changing moment. Rosie and Antonia were WAAFs stationed at Kettlesham Heath in 1940 when they last saw each other. Now, with the end of the war, Rose is married to a former RAF commander and Antonia to a wealthy manufacturer of kitchen appliances. During their talk over tea, they learn that neither woman is happy in her marriage. Rose’s husband is a womanizer, and Antonia has a lover but can’t afford to divorce because she would lose all of Hector’s many millions. Antonia listens knowingly as Rose states that she would like to be rid of her husband but her vicar father would never forgive a divorce.

Post-war Britain, the many changes to life as her citizens knew it, the bombed out neighborhoods, the differences between the haves and the have-nots: all are all characters in this short, entertaining novel. The pair, with a lot of orchestrating from Antonia, set out to solve their dilemmas. Needless to say, problems they do not foresee crop up, and the women have to scramble to cover their tracks. First published in 1989, this black comedy has lost none of its dubious charm.