At forty, Sylvie Schiffer has a gorgeous house, two perfect children, and a successful husband with a lucrative business. She has everything except what she wants most: passion and romance.
With the twins off to college, Sylvie thinks her opportunity has finally arrived—only to find out her husband is already finding passion and romance, with a woman named Marla. Worse yet, Marla could be her twin . . . give or take ten years and fifteen pounds.
Marla is getting everything Sylvie wishes for: romantic presents, hot sex, candlelit dinners. But she’s also lacking the one thing she wants most: a husband of her own. Going beyond revenge, Sylvie hatches a brilliant, daringly outrageous scheme that just might fulfill both of their wildest dreams—or leave them with nothing but two broken hearts—in this entertaining romp, “a wonderfully funny fable about a wife and mistress who reverse roles and a husband who apparently can’t tell the difference” (Kirkus Reviews).
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About the Author
Olivia Goldsmith is the bestselling author of The First Wives Club, Flavor of the Month, Fashionably Late, The Bestsller, Marrying Mom,and Switcheroo. She lives in south Florida and is no longer young or a wife.
Olivia Goldsmith is the bestselling author of The First Wives Club, Flavor of the Month, Fashionably Late, The Bestsller, Marrying Mom,and Switcheroo. She lives in south Florida and is no longer young or a wife.
Read an Excerpt
Sylvie stood for a moment in the cool, dark hallway. It was the only dim place in the house and, though Sylvie loved the light — in fact, had fallen in love with the house for its light — she always found the comparative darkness of the hall a welcome contrast. She told herself that she really had too much to do to stand still here, one hand on the simple carved mahogany of the banister. She put her thumb on the comforting place where the curve of the wood had been worn flat by years of other thumbs. You don't have time to linger here, she told herself sternly. But despite her admonishment, just for a moment, she would enjoy this quiet. She listened to the tiny creaks the old house made and the comforting tick of the wall clock, then forced herself to pick up the cup of tea she'd left on the sideboard. The jasmine smell filled her head.
Sylvie began to walk down the hall but, as always, glanced first into the dining room, then the living room opposite before moving down the hall toward the music room. Oh, she loved her house. It wasn't large by Shaker Heights standards — just a center-hall colonial with only three bedrooms. But visitors, once in it, were always surprised by the grand dimensions and dignity of the house. Each of the downstairs four rooms was exactly the same size: all of them were large, light, airy rooms with ten-foot ceilings and long, high windows. Bob, at one time, had suggested they sell the house and buy a bigger one, but Sylvie had been aghast and had steadfastly refused. She didn't need a guest room — guests stayed next door at her mother's or camped out on the music room sofa. She didn't need a family room: all the rooms downstairs were for the family.
Sylvie knew how lucky she was, and she didn't take her good fortune for granted. Bob sometimes laughed at her for her little habit of checking each room. "Do you think they're going away?" he'd ask. Or "Are you looking for something?" he'd inquire. "Not for, at," she'd tell him. She was looking at her home, a place she had created slowly, over time, with Bob and the children. And she never wanted to be complacent about it.
Now Sylvie knew more surely than ever that she'd been right to not even consider selling the house. Perhaps in the old days they'd been the smallest bit cramped, but what would they do now with a larger place? Without the twins at home, the two bedrooms upstairs did stand empty, yet the rest of the house seemed to enfold and protect her. It was not a house too big for a couple, and perhaps someday when Sylvie was used to the idea that the children were gone she could turn one of their rooms upstairs into a proper guest room. Maybe she'd make a den for Bob out of the other. Then he wouldn't have to leave his paperwork all over the desk in the corner of the dining room, though lately he hadn't used it much, or at least kept it much neater than usual.
Sylvie moved down the hall to the music room, carrying her cup of tea before her as if the luminous white china could light her way like a lamp. She had only a few minutes before her first lesson and turned into the music room to see the usual organized clutter of sheet music, Schirmer's Piano for New Students piled beside A Hundred Simple Piano Tunes and Chopin's Sonatas. Her gray sweater lay across the bench of the Steinway, but nothing — ever — sat on its beautiful ebony lacquered top. Sylvie felt a little shiver of pleasure as she walked into the room. There was a touch of fall in the air and she closed one of the long windows. It was too early for a fire but, with the approach of autumn, she knew that soon the time she liked best in this room, the time when she gave lessons and played while apple wood burned in the grate behind her, was just ahead. Though she certainly missed the twins, this season was always a good time for her; September, when the children had begun school and she'd gone back to her full routine of piano lessons. It felt as if the year were beginning. Students returned from their summer holidays. Sylvie remembered that Jewish people actually celebrated their New Year about now. It made sense to her.
No reason to be sad, she told herself. No empty nest syndrome here, just because the children were no longer at Shaker Heights Elementary or Grover Cleveland High. Her daughter, Irene — Reenie to the family — would settle in at Bennington, and her twin brother, Kenny, already seemed perfectly happy at Northwestern. So, Sylvie told herself, she should settle in and be happy too. She was about to celebrate her fortieth birthday and was planning a treat. Bob had asked what she wanted and she'd finally decided. After all, she wanted romance. She had everything else.
Sylvie stopped for a moment, sipped her tea, and reflected on how many marriages in their neighborhood had failed. She and Bob were one of the lucky couples. They were happy. They loved each other. But she had to admit that sometimes she felt ... well, Bob was always so busy. She'd expected he'd have more time once the kids were gone, but it was only she who had more time. He had filled up his agenda with campaigning, men's club meetings, and business. But now Sylvie would help him take the time so they could discover themselves as a couple once again. She herself could focus a little more on Bob. Men liked that, even men as evolved as Bob. She'd already ordered some nice nightgowns from Victoria's Secret. She'd make romantic dinners. She'd bought three bottles of champagne and had them hidden in the old refrigerator in the garage, waiting for a spontaneous moment to reveal one with a flourish and let Bob pop the cork.
Sylvie smiled to herself. She wanted to lie in bed with Bob in the morning and talk and giggle instead of letting him jump up, shower, and shave by half past seven. She wanted to sit out in the backyard in the coolness of the October evenings, wrapped in a blanket with him beside her, gazing up at the stars. She wanted to spend a Sunday morning poking around a flea market, sipping coffee from a Styrofoam cup held in one hand with Bob holding the other. She looked around at her lovely room and smiled with anticipation.
Sylvie had always felt sorry for women who had to work outside their homes. She had been so very lucky. Lucky to meet Bob as early as she had, lucky that he had come back to Shaker Heights and had seamlessly become part of her family. She was lucky that the twins were both so healthy, so smart, and had never been in any real trouble. There were no financial problems. Bob had given up his music to become a partner in her father's car dealership, and that had provided well for them. Bob seemed to have done it willingly, though it always caused Sylvie some regret. There was no doubt in her mind that he had been the more talented musician. Perhaps his talent had actually made it easier for him to give up music as a profession; Sylvie didn't mind teaching and wasn't troubled by the knowledge that she was almost — but not quite — good enough to tour. Her talents had been exaggerated by a loving family. Juilliard, at first a startling comeuppance, had been a pleasure — once she realized that she didn't really have the stuff it took to be a concert pianist.
But she had become a good teacher, and she enjoyed teaching. For her it was not a fallback, the boring trap that serious musicians were so reluctantly forced into. She loved bringing music into people's lives and found that she also liked the glimpses into their lives that the lessons afforded her. Sylvie was a woman who enjoyed the process, and for that she was grateful. She actually enjoyed teaching scales, just as she enjoyed playing them. She liked the orderliness of building one week's lessons upon the next, and the slow construction of a musician, week by week, as a student mastered fingering, timing, and sight-reading until the thrilling moment came when music burst out in apparent effortlessness. Sylvie treasured those moments when, almost invariably, students looked up from the Steinway keyboard dazzled by their own ability to bring forth a waterfall of sound, to re-create the ordered noise that Handel, Chopin, or Beethoven had first composed.
Oh, she was lucky all right. Lucky with her material possessions, with her family, and with her ability to be satisfied. She had, thank goodness, none of her brother's constant dissatisfaction, or Bob's restlessness, which Reenie seemed to have inherited. Sylvie and Kenny were more alike. But then, she had never had to give anything up, to sacrifice anything as Bob had. She had gotten to keep her music and her family. She'd gotten to have it all — a good marriage, good kids, a house she loved, a career she cared about. And if Bob sometimes seemed a bit absent, if he ignored her just a little or took her for granted, they could fix that now — now that they had the luxury of this time together.
She looked at her watch. Honey Blank, her next student, was late. Typical. Sylvie heard a noise in the hall and stepped out there again. The mail came sliding through the post slot in the front door. Maybe there was a letter from one of the children. Kenny would be bad about writing, but Reenie might take the time to send a note. Sylvie knelt to pick up the pile. The usual bills, some catalogues (soon the pre-Christmas deluge would begin), and a card from her sister. Ellen was always early with her birthday greetings. Sylvie opened it. "Forty but still fabulous" it said on the front, with a photo of a wizened old woman in frightening makeup. Thank you, Ellen, Sylvie thought. Older but still passive aggressive, I see. Sylvie shrugged. There was a postcard from Reenie. Sylvie read it quickly. Good. It seemed as if Reenie was settling in. She had signed it "your daughter, Irene," the formality of which made Sylvie smile.
But it was the Sun Holidays brochure that lit up her face. This was what she'd been waiting for. She felt as if she and Bob needed to rekindle the lamp, the light that had always been at the center of their relationship. And now, with the children gone, there would be time. Here, in her hand, was a ticket to romance. It was up to her. She had always been the spontaneous one, the one who created their adventures.
The phone rang and Sylvie took the mail to the hall table.
"Are you in the middle of a lesson?" Mildred, Sylvie's mother, began almost every phone conversation that way.
"No, but Harriet Blank is due over any minute."
"Lucky you. The only woman in the greater Shaker Heights — Cleveland area with no social boundaries whatsoever. After her, do you and Bob want to come over for dinner?"
"No thanks. I've defrosted chicken." Bob loved Mildred, but he got enough of Jim, Sylvie's father, on the car lot most days. As she listened to her mother. Sylvie finished sorting through the mail.
"Your father is barbecuing," Mildred told her.
"Well, that is an inducement. I haven't eaten charcoal since July Fourth. You know, Kenny says Grandpa's burgers are carcinogens. Something about free radicals."
"The only free radical I know about is Patty Hearst," Mildred snapped. Sylvie giggled while she opened the Sun Holidays envelope. It was the glossy brochure she'd written away for. She unfolded it, her heart beating a little faster. The photos were like gems, glowing deep sapphire and emerald in the dimness of the hallway.
"I thought I'd do your birthday dinner on Thursday," Mildred continued, "in case Bob was taking you out someplace fancy on Friday."
The only place she wanted him to take her was Hawaii, Sylvie thought. "He hasn't mentioned it. I'll ask him."
"Maybe it's a surprise."
Oh no! "No surprise parties, Mom. I mean it," Sylvie warned. "It's bad enough being forty. I don't need the whole cul-de-sac gloating. Not to mention Rosalie." Just the thought of her ex-sister-in-law made Sylvie shiver. She held up the brochure. There was a picture of a guest room showing a canopy bed hung with white. She and Bob, tanned, lying under the canopy ...Well, she couldn't tan but she could turn pink and put her arms around him and ... "Sylvie, are you moping? Not that I'd blame you, with the twins gone. It's hard that both children had to leave at once. For me, I had six years to get used to Ellen, Phil, and then you leaving ..."
"I'm not moping. I'm happy." Sylvie clutched the brochure and dropped the other mail into the basket. "I've got to get ready for my lesson."
"All right, dear. Call if you change your mind."
There was a tapping on the glass of the French door. Mrs. Harriet Blank — Honey to her friends, if she had any — was standing at the back entrance. "You have a lot of leaves in the pool," she said as she stepped into the room. "You should get one of those automatic pool sweepers."
"Nice to see you too," Sylvie said mildly. "It's been a long summer."
"I practiced every day," Honey assured her, as defensive as Sylvie expected her to be. The lazy students always were. Honey took off her sweater and laid her bag on the armchair. She moved toward the bench, but paused and looked intently at Sylvie. "I saw you at L'Etoile, out by the lake, last week with Bob. You did something great to your face ... "— Honey took an even closer look at Sylvie —" ... that night, anyway. I thought maybe you had a face-lift over the summer. You know, Carol Meyers did. She looks awful. Stretched. I hear she went all the way to Los Angeles for it. Waste of mileage. Anyway, you looked great — at L'Etoile —" "Bob and I haven't been out to dinner for months," Sylvie said mildly. "Not since Bob started campaigning for the Masons' grand vizier or whatever the boss is called."
Honey made a face of disbelief. "Are you lying or did you forget?" she asked.
"I wouldn't he about being with my husband," Sylvie said, laughing, "or about a face-lift." She touched the part of her neck that had just begun to go a little crepey. Lately, when she glanced in a mirror, she sometimes saw a shadow of her mother's face. God. She pushed the thought from her mind. She was letting this woman get to her. And Honey was such a ditz. She was too vain to wear her glasses most of the time, even when she drove. But ... "When was it?" Sylvie couldn't help but ask.
"We were home," Sylvie said. Then she remembered that Bob had been late on Tuesday. But not very late. "We were both home," she emphasized.
"Come on. You were there," Honey insisted. "The two of you were flirting like crazy. That's why I didn't even say hello." Her voice drifted off. "You guys looked so romantic," she murmured.
"That proves I wasn't there," Sylvie said, relieved. "In Shaker Heights, husbands don't flirt with wives — at least not with their own."
"It was you." Honey paused. "Only your face was somehow ... up. And you had only one chin." Honey examined Sylvie's face again. "You didn't seem to have a wrinkle. And you were tan."
"Honey, I never tan. Not since I was born. I turn red, crack, and peel. My mother can verify that." Honey was a pain. "Shall we?" Sylvie asked, gesturing to the keyboard.
Honey leaned closer to Sylvie, still examining her face. "Well, you were tan two weeks ago. Did you buy that thing on QVC with the tape and the rubber bands? That temporary face-lift thing?"
"No, but I once did get the Thighmaster. It's still under my bed. Want it?" Sylvie smacked her right leg and gestured for Honey to sit at the bench. "Obviously, I never used it."
Honey seemed miffed by Sylvie's response. They settled down to some finger exercises. It was clear that Honey hadn't been practicing. Slowly they moved through the lesson. Somewhere near the end of the tiresome hour Sylvie thought she heard Bob's car. She wanted to finish up quickly with Honey and present her new plan to her husband, but she was too professional to do it. She merely glanced over at the Hawaii brochure, propped at the edge of the music holder, and smiled.
At last the session was over. Sylvie gave Honey a new assignment and walked her to the French doors. What a day! The autumn air refreshed her, the crisp underscent of apples combining with that of drying leaves. Sylvie took a deep breath, then patted the sheet music she had handed Honey and raised her eyebrows, the strictest she ever got with an adult student. But subtlety was wasted on Honey. They said good-bye. Honey took the sheet music, looked up at her, and moved her hand to her own eyebrow, lifting the skin into a wrinkle-free arch. "If a person is going to look that good, even for one night, I think it's really mean not to share how you did it with a friend," Honey sniped.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Switcheroo"
Copyright © 1998 Olivia Goldsmith.
Excerpted by permission of Diversion Publishing Corp..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
"Goldsmith... is an often hilarious writer, and she's at full-tilt boogie here. Goldsmith is good at depicting the war between the sexes, especially when it comes to getting beneath the skin of a woman scorned. SWITCHEROO... [is] filled with comic touches and terrific one-liners. Frothy as a frappe, it's slapstick comedy at its best."
"Goldsmith's story line is full of warm and witty secondary characters; lost of humor, including a hilariously funny Thanksgiving family dinner; and a resolution that seems, well, perfectly fitting for two women who believe the grass is always greener. A requisite purchase for any public library with popular fiction readers."
"In her seventh novel, SWITCHEROO, [Goldsmith] returns to the topic of women's revenge against philandering men... SWITCHEROO deliver[s] some earnest passages on the heartbreaks of being wife or mistress."
Before the live bn.com chat, Olivia Goldsmith agreed to answer some of our questions: Q: Do you like to cook? What was the last meal you made for a loved one?
A: I hate cooking, although I'm not actually bad at it. When I do cook, I never use a recipe book, and although I have several cookbooks that I've received as gifts (can that be a hint?), I never open them. The last meal I cooked for a loved one was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich I made for Nora Robinson, my secretary.
Q: Do you have a worst-date story -- or, if you prefer, a best-date tale?
A: My worst date happened fairly recently: A girlfriend suggested I go out with this man. We talked on the phone several times, and he seemed funny. But when I met him at a restaurant he picked, I noticed that it was a menu with almost nothing but meat on it, and that before we started dinner he had three big glasses of scotch (I rarely drink, except for some wine). When the waiter came to take our order, I got only a salad and a chowder. The date looked at me and said, "I hope you're not going to tell me you're some kind of vegetarian and Greenpeace member." He laughed. "I'm a hunter. I hunt in Africa every year with a gun, not a camera."
Since I am a vegetarian and a Greenpeace member and I think anyone who shoots anything that doesn't have its own gun is a chicken, we never bothered to have dinner.
Q: What is your description of the perfect man?
A: I've described several of them in my books, though men usually focus on the terrible guys that I have described. Fredrick Ashton in The Bestseller is pretty close to perfect, although he is going blind. Monty in Marrying Mom was quite a perfect man, and he's amusing and loving and loyal. The other good news is that he's very rich. The bad news is he's 74, a bit old for me. And in First Wives Club there were Larry Cochman and Miguel De Los Santos, who were both pretty hot.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
not worth reading
Predictable and silly
Disappointing and hard to believe. Men are portrayed as TOTAL idiots. Predictable and boring12/30/98
Enjoyed reading this book.
Sylvie's husband is having an affair and when she confronts the mistress she is her twin only younger. Slyvie has plastic surgery and a crash diet and Marla (mistress) starts eating to put on pounds. The end result, Slyvie's mother can't tell them apart. Therefore they trade places because each women wants the life that the other one has. Though far fetched, it produces some funny moments.
The only reason why I picked up this book, was because I read 'Bad Boy' by Olivia, and loved it. This book is so shocking! It really pulled me into the story, and I felt every emotion that Sylvie felt. A very interesting story indeed, and I would certainly recommend it to all.
Goldsmith's sense of mirth and joviality reaches out to us and in her own lighthearted way she has unfolded the two women's predicaments, allowing us to understand and sympathise with each one. Goldsmith has a way of making us be on both sides of the railway tracks simultaneously. Although the writing style is rather comedic , it also deals with the realism of woman's issues, especially the ones facing the impending doom of middle age. A cutesy novel but would never ever happen in real life.
I bought Switcheroo on impulse at a discount book store this past summer and am I glad I did! Olivia Goldsmith takes a serious matter (adultery) and turns it into comedy! Don't get me wrong, cheating on a spouse is a terrible thing, but in this book, it's too funny to be true. The characters in this book(esp. Mildred) will keep you laughing the whole way thru! My only regret in purchasing this book is that I didn't start reading it as soon as I got home from the bookstore! If you've never read Goldsmith's books before (and I hadn't), this is a great one to start with, especially if you want a change from 'serious' books on serious matters (Grisham, R. North Patterson, etc.) I can't wait to buy and read every single one of her books!
This is such a wonderful book! I couldn't keep my hands off of it. I loved the charactor Marla. The things that she said and the times that said them were great! I read it in less than two days.
Goldsmith portrays women as creatures that will do almost anything to keep a man regardless of how horribly and disrespectfully they are treated. This is not entertainment, this is insulting. I did not see humor here and regret wasting my time reading it.
Although coming into reading this book, I thought, 'Well, sounds good, if not a little far fetched and dry.' How wrong I was! This book was so funny that I actually laughed out loud through much of it. Yes, it WAS a little far fetched. I mean is there any husband THAT blind and stupid? (Wait, maybe I should rethink that statement...) The things that the girlfriend Marla says, were so flaky but right on the money, that she just had me rolling. Ms. Goldsmith also has a wonderful grasp on the plight of the jilted wife. A lot of the feelings that she conveyed I , sadly, felt myself. The driving of the car into the pool was an added feel-good element. Unexpected, but highly gratifying. I would advise any other reader that this was an excellent, impossible to put down book. I finished it in one day, which is a feat that I usually reserve for something as good as say, a Bertrice Small book. I would tell any other jilted wife to pick this up. Reading it will make her feel immensely better. After all, who among us hasn't just once wondered what it is like to be the 'other woman' just for a little while, with all that it entails?
What trys to be a comical plot really is a sad story. A 40 year old women finds that her husband is cheating on her with a much younger women who could be her twin. The women devise a plan to switch places with one another in Bob's life. Bob is arrogant and unlikable and would not be worth the time and effort. The characters are not likeable but there are a few moments that are comical. Definely a far fetched novel and does not come anyway close to the First Wife's Club.