Big and beautiful? Or thin and miserable? ay has always envied her cousin Delphine. While Jay was brought up in a large, noisy and chaotic family, Delphine was indulged, perfectly dressed with a co-ordinated bedroom, an immaculate wardrobe, dancing lessons and monogrammed silver-backed hairbrushes. Now Jay lives happily with her architect husband and their three teenage children, running a successful cleaning company and trying to keep some kind of order on her disorderly household, while Delphine has long since disappeared to Australia with her second husband. But Jay does sometimes wonder whether she should be more like her cousin - utterly well-organised and with a size ten figure. o Jay decides to diet. But what should it be? High carb, no protein? High protein, no carb? High fibre? Wheat free? Fat free? Food free? She tries them all, with a variety of successes and failures. But then Delphine reappears, with a third husband in prospect and the same old air of apparently effortless superiority. Jay never considers that perhaps Delphine is the envious one
Judy Astley was frequently told off for day-dreaming at her drearily traditional school but has found it to be the ideal training for becoming a writer. There were several false-starts to her career- secretary at an all-male Oxford college (sacked for undisclosable reasons), at an airline (decided, after a crash and a hijacking, that she was safer elsewhere) and as a dress designer (quit before anyone noticed she was adapting Vogue patterns). She spent some years as a parent and as a painter before sensing that the day was approaching when she'd have to go out and get a Proper Job. With a nagging certainty that she was temperamentally unemployable, and desperate to avoid office coffee, having to wear tights every day and missing out on sunny days on Cornish beaches with her daughters, she wrote her first novel, Just for the Summer. She has now had eleven novels published by Black Swan.