Separate Beds, By Elizabeth Buchan

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The Independent Culture

The plight of the middle-aged, middle-class woman has long rested at the heart of Elizabeth Buchan's bestselling fiction.

Her latest mid-lifer, 49-year-old NHS manager, Annie Nicholson, is battling with more than just hot flushes and flax-seed supplements.

She and her BBC executive husband Tom haven't shared a bed for five years, and they've recently lost contact with their eldest daughter, Mia, after a family row.

Annie's marriage is further tested when Tom loses his job and his elderly mother moves in, forcing his impromptu return to the matrimonial bed.

A novelist who addresses contemporary family issues with a winning combination of asperity and warmth, Buchan genteelly airs the issues that push once dewy-eyed partners apart.