Harper, Mar 2008, $14.95
In London, thirty-five year old shop girl Leah has lived across the street from Toby for years; although she has seen him about the neighborhood they have never met. Her long time boyfriend abandons her when she mentions marriage. Toby inherited his dilapidated Victorian mansion from his dad fifteen years ago; he rents rooms to loners although he finds them a pain in the butt.
Leah is walking outside when she finds long time Toby tenant Gus lying dead outside the mansion. Gus’ corpse serves as a matchmaker of sorts as Toby and Leah finally meet. Gus bequests to Toby his ailing cat and a lot of money with the pleading message to clean up his life and make something of him self instead of drifting through life. Toby decides to renovate the Victorian and kick out his assortment of tenants though he does not ask them directly to leave; he turns to Leah to assist him helping these sad losers renovate their lives.
This is an amusing yet deeply touching contemporary tale as Toby who gave up on life years ago as being too hard but now suddenly has a second chance. However to succeed he must rid himself of the fully developed eccentric renters. Although he rationalizes his caring nobility as selflessness, encouraged by lonely Leah, he tries to help the others get a life first; in his efforts he gets a life. ROOMMATES WANTED is a terrific character study of dissolution becoming idealism by feeling good about helping others enables the lead protagonist to “start living” again.