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Market Street by Anita Hughes

Source: St. Martin’s Press
Paperback, 304 pages
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Market Street by Anita Hughes allows readers to take a peek behind the golden curtain of San Francisco’s social elite.  It’s a highly capitalistic society in which shopping among the women is a sport and those who fail to get the best clothes before everyone else are usually the losers.  Behind this facade, Cassie Blake, heiress to a shopping guru’s dream — the Fenton’s fortune — lives in Berkeley with her ethics professor husband, Aidan Blake, and shuns high society for her vegetable garden and wifely duties.  Her husband is by turns loving and controlling, and repeatedly tells her that even though Fenton’s is the family business, she doesn’t have to take it over.  His behavior toward her and her work (even just volunteer work) outside the home should send up red flags, but Cassie is blissfully unaware until she steps into a customer service role one day at her mother’s store.

Cassie has been taking care of others since she met Aidan, and as his wife, she falls easily into that role until she finds out about his infidelity.  Pushed to reassess her marriage, and by extension her life, she moves out and moves into her best friend’s mansion, while Alexis’s husband is off jet-setting as a hedge fund man.  While Cassie is endearing because of her down-to-earth nature and the duty she has to fulfill her mother’s dreams and take over Fenton’s, some of the other characters are harshly materialistic, very obsessed with image, and focused too much on sex.  If public displays of affection make you uneasy, there are some moments where Aidan makes advances toward Cassie at the most inappropriate times.  These moments may be for effect to demonstrate his hound-dog nature, but readers may wonder what Cassie was thinking staying married to the man so long.

“‘Alexis, you don’t need a discount.’ Cassie giggled.  ‘You’re married to a gazillionaire.’

‘But if I get a discount, I have to buy them.  It would be fiscally imprudent not to.'” (page 127)

“‘She’s going to give Derek a new title and make you store manager.’ Cassie buttered a baguette. ‘If you want the job.’

‘Of course I want the job!’ Alexis opened the freezer and took out a carton of ice cream.  ‘I haven’t had this much fun since Barbie summer camp.'”  (page 155)

Where Hughes really shines in characterization is her juxtaposition of Cassie and her best friend, Alexis.  One is materialistic and loves the high life, while the other would rather have dirt under her fingernails.  But when a crisis — even just insecurities — arises, both women support one another and know just how frank to be.  Even though their outlooks are different, they’re ready with the support and ice cream when necessary.  Market Street by Anita Hughes is a mixed bag of great friendship camaraderie, sex scenes, and some cardboard cutout characters, but the pages fly by, making it a fun trip to San Francisco.

About the Author:  (photo by Sheri Geoffreys)

Anita Hughes was born in Sydney, Australia and had a charmed childhood that included petting koala bears, riding the waves on Bondi Beach, and putting an occasional shrimp on the barbie. Her writing career began at the age of eight, when she won a national writing contest in THE AUSTRALIAN newspaper, and was named “One of Australia’s Next Best Writers.” (She still has the newspaper clipping.)

She received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing from Bard College, and attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing program.

Check out my reviews of Monarch Beach and Lake Como!

  • I’m looking forward to reading this one. I love the cover!

  • I don’t think I’d like that elite society so I’d be cheering for Cassie and hoping she’d see the light about Aidan. This sounds good!

    • It was definitely enjoyable and Cassie needed some cheering.