Eggshell Days

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Emmy, Niall, Sita, and Jonathan, best friends for twenty years, view it as an omen when they miss their train back to London after attending a wedding—and the train crashes. Just the week before, single Emmy had inherited a decaying mansion in Cornwall, which she did not know what to do with. She now urges married couple Sita and Jonathan, with their three children, and bachelor Niall to join her and her ten-year-old daughter, Maya, and all live there cooperatively.

Niall, however, throws a wrench in the works by inviting Kat, a self-absorbed London model he picked up at the wedding reception and most definitely not a member of their little group. It is also evident that Emmy and Niall have a romantic history, which becomes more clearly defined as the novel progresses. Lucky for Emmy, Kat is only there for weekends.

Although Eggshell Days delves into the pasts of all the adults, Emmy is the main character. It is her emotional ups and downs that provide the book’s impetus. As author Rebecca Gregson delicately peels back the layers of the past, she exposes Emmy’s central problem: her long-kept secret regarding her daughter’s paternity. Niall, too, has unresolved issues, not the least of which is the fact that he is not Maya’s father but wishes he were. Sita and Jonathan struggle with their own mid- life crisis when they reverse roles: Jonathan becomes a house husband and Sita the family’s bread-winner.

“Eggshell Days” is Maya’s term for her mother’s bouts of depression, although it could equally refer to the first summer the group spends in Cornwall. The characters’ goal of a simpler lifestyle is admirable, but what they discover is that their material possessions are easier to shed than their emotional baggage.