Mira, Dec 2003, 6.50, 448 pp.
In their early fifties, the four women have met for lunch once a month since they left their school days behind. Maggie stuns her friends when she announces that she is pregnant through artificial insemination from semen donated by her lover Oliver. Nicki is shockingly belligerent over the news. Perhaps that is caused by her terrible relationship with her adult stepdaughter Laura who just returned to the roost and her belief that her spouse Kit favors his daughter over their son Joey. Alice thinks her husband since high school Stuart is having an affair, but is happy yet worried about Maggie. Feeling left out, Stella takes in a pregnant teen, but cannot balance between her General Officer personality giving orders and just providing a helping hand, a trait that her husband Richard understands all too well.
With all four pals in mid life crisis, their relationships that have survived marriage and children seem in jeopardy. Especially adding tension is a letter campaign that calls Maggie a “baby thief” and threatens to hurt her and her unborn. Relationships are changing, but not necessarily for the good.
Though the angst is at the highest levels of the Richter scale, fans of relationship dramas will take pleasure from NOW OR NEVER. The story line is excellent when the four women go introspective and when they wear the shoes of others in their sphere. When the tale spins a bit of intrigue that centers on the threat to Maggie and her child, the increased suspense takes away from the prime theme of middle age friends struggling with what they want out of life.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner