MADAME DOUBTFIRE by ANNE FINE.
Lydia, Christopher and Natalie Hilliard are used to domestic turmoil and have been torn between their warring parents ever since the divorce. All that changes when their mother takes on a most unusual cleaning lady. But, as the Hilliard children soon discover, there's more to Madame Doubtfire than domestic talents.
...... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): All the way up the stairs, the children fought not to carry the envelope.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 63): A couple of weeks later, Madame Doubtfire was leaning on the bannister of the upstairs landing, scratching a hairy leg and smoking a cheroot.
MY THOUGHTS: The inspiration behind the film Mrs Doubtfire starring Robin Williams, though fundamentally the same, without saying too much, I found this to be much deeper and, a contradiction in terms I know, both darker and yet on occasion more frothy.
Predominantly the story of a fathers struggle to see more of his children after divorce, whilst undoubtedly funny Madame Doubtfire concentrates less on the cross-dressing antics of the film and instead deals with some very real issues in a way that is both sensitive and realistic.
Though written for children I would suggest that due to some of the arguably understandable destructive behaviour of the adults (I found one or two incidents deeply shocking) this is not suitable for less mature readers.
KEEP IT OR NOT?: Ex-library stock, this is definitely one for the shelves.