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Cassie is nothing if not organised. A successful journalist, she's ticked almost all the boxes: attentive boyfriend, own flat, good job, great friends - it's all fallen into place. In theory, at least. There's one part of Cassie's life, however, which is anything but organised, and that's her love for the Darling family. As the only child of ambitious parents, Cassie spent her childhood abandoned to the somewhat peremptory care of a series of nannies until one day, peeping over the garden wall, she met her next-door neighbours: Fritz and Ben, the boys who became her inseparable childhood friends, Gudrun, their father, and Phoebe Darling, the woman who took Cassie in and transformed her life.
But now Phoebe is ill, and when she summons Cassie to ask of her the only favour she's ever requested, Cassie knows she can't say no. But what Phoebe asks is an impossibility: concerned about what will happen to Fritz and Ben after her death, she wants to see them safely married off. Yet entertaining as they were as children, they're terrible as adults. They're utterly charming, ridiculously sexy and completely irresistible, but they're also totally unemployable, hopelessly messy and irretrievably useless. Surely no intelligent woman could be persuaded, once they see past the enticing veneer, to take one of them on for life? But Cassie's determined to grant Phoebe's last wish...
In her sprightly second novel, Saunders (The Marrying Game) humorously captures the love affair between the boisterous British Darling family and their lifelong girl-next-door, Cassie. With emotionally distant parents of her own, Cassie has looked to the Darlings Phoebe, Jimmy and their sons Ben and Fritz for warmth ever since she was a child. At 31, Cassie, who is a literary editor, is thrust into the role of matchmaker when terminally ill Phoebe asks her to find suitable wives for 31-year-old Fritz and 29-year-old Ben. Much like the boys of Peter Pan, Fritz and Ben don't want to grow up: they don't have proper careers or serious girlfriends, and they still live at home with Phoebe. So it's much to Cassie's surprise that they're willing to help her fulfill their mother's dying wish. Soon Cassie is keeping the boys in dates while also dealing with her own relationship woes. With steady work and steadier girlfriends, Fritz and Ben suddenly seem headed toward a belated adulthood, and Cassie wrestles with deepening feelings for Fritz. Though Phoebe doesn't live to see the day, Cassie ultimately makes a very suitable match for her son. Witty banter and spirited characters propel this lighthearted novel to its heartwarming if formulaic conclusion.