Mary Strand’s lighthearted romance Cooper’s Folly takes two real-life characters and brings them together under unusual circumstances. Frustrated with his job at a law firm, Cooper Meredith turns to the classifieds ads looking for work that will enrich his life. What he finds is a position as a nanny for four-year-old twins Alec and Emma Perrell.
Molly Perrell, the children’s mother, works as a buyer at the upscale department store Harrowby’s. Recently divorced, she is frustrated with finding a soul mate and dedicates her life to looking after her children and performing diligently on the job. When Cooper shows up at her doorstep for the nanny position, it takes her some time to adapt to the unconventional idea of having a male nanny or manny. Their role reversal where the man looks after the kids and the woman goes to work and brings home the money is a familiar twist reminiscent of such films as Mrs. Doubtfire and Mr. Mom.
The unexpected moments in Strand’s story have a realistic-slant like when the twins contract Chicken pox from playing with their cousin who has it, or when Molly’s next-door-neighbor Brooke Fieldstone unabashedly flirts with Cooper to garner his attention and attempts to strike up a fling with him. Molly and Cooper experience several bumps in their boss-employee relationship during these interruptions that draw out their insecurities and enhance their credibility.
Their differences also come out when the kids go wild while Molly is away and trash the house. The two work through the differences in their parenting skills. Molly learns to loosen the reins so the kids are permitted to go outside the lines she constructed, and Cooper takes accountability for his decisions when the kids don’t clean up after themselves. The pair accepts being new at this role reversal as they feel their way around it without letting go of the other. Strand shows that they are everyday people who manage the responsibilities of adult life differently, but they also make room in their lives to accept their differences and work within the new framework they establish.
By means of narration, Strand puts the reader inside the characters heads describing their private struggles, unsettling feelings, and thinking processes. The reader is able to skim through the paragraphs and grasp the gist of the scenes and glean an acute impression of the characters traits. Molly’s business-like methods at work are transposed to running a household while Cooper is more laid-back. He likes having fun with the kids and can negotiate difficult situations with the clarity and efficiency of a NASCAR driver handling the bends of a race course.
Strand creates two distinct people who come together and share in making the family their priority. Cooper’s Folly is a lighthearted story that embraces the idea of forming a real-life romance and endorses the belief that the secret to a happy companionship is accepting each other’s differences.