Published Jan 2010
Georgie Sinclair’s husband has walked out; her sixteen-year-old son is busy surfing born-again websites; and those overdue articles for Adhesives in the Modern World are getting her down. So when Georgie spots Mrs Shapiro, an eccentric old Jewish émigré neighbour with an eye for a bargain and fondness for matchmaking, rummaging through her skip in the middle of the night, it’s just the distraction she needs. And although they mistrust each other at first, a firm friendship is formed over the reduced-price shelf at the supermarket. Still, when Mrs Shapiro is admitted to hospital, Georgie is surprised to find she is named as her next of kin. But sorting out Mrs Shapiro’s semi-derelict mansion in Highbury, home to seven stinky cats with agendas of their own, is no easy job. The handyman called in to help turns out to be not what he seems, and his two assistants, ‘the Uselesses’, are doing more breaking than fixing. And what about the two slimy estate agents (one with a charming taste for bondage) who start competing to trick Mrs Shapiro into selling her rickety old house, or the social worker determined to commit her to a nursing home? As Georgie steps in to help her new friend, she find herself unravelling a mystery which takes her from Highbury to wartime Europe to the Middle East, and learning a bit about DIY along the way.