Being a singleton of thirty-something may have its problems. Being one as you approach fifty and have a teenage daughter to boot, would provide a challenge even to Jane Austen. Enter Jude Brautigan, divorcee, bookshop owner, daughter, mother, friend and fierce letter writer. Kicking fifty, Jude finds herself sandwiched between a demented mum and a rarely sensible daughter - whose hormones rage in a direction opposite to her own, though not always with dissimilar consequences.Jude doesn't like to confess it, even to her old (and thus inevitably, feminist) self, but she still harbours perverse urges: she wouldn't mind a lover; she wouldn't even mind something a little more sentimentally permanent, though to speak of permanence at her waning age feels a little like tempting fate. Which is precisely what takes over in this warm and witty novel. After all, a sense of humour may be the only sense we're finally left with.