I'm looking for a novel I read when I was in my teens. All I can remember about it was that part (if not most) of it was set in London. I think the lead character was called May. She runs out of money and in desperation sets up a cleaning company with two other strangers (young women) who she mets - also in need of money. One of them lives on a barge and one of them ends up in love with a farmer. I don't think it's particularly high brow.. more chic lit. Possibly written in the 80's or 90's.

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I think this is very probably The Rose Revived by Katie Fforde. This is indeed what could be called "chick-lit", and being published in 1995 fits with the date you remembered.

A goodreads summary gives the main points:

If May, Sally and Harriet didn't need the money so badly, they definitely wouldn't be working for Slimeball Slater at Quality Cleaners. So when they discover it's Slimeball taking them to the cleaners, they decide to set up their own business - and that's when things really start to take off.

Working for themselves gives them the freedom and independence they've been longing for. May can afford the mooring fees for her beloved narrowboat; Harriet discovers a true gift for painting and Sally's dream of a place of her own is fast becoming reality. But is it too much, having made such a success of their working lives, to expect similar success in their romantic ones?

So May is the one who lives on a canal barge. All three of them find love, and it is Sally who meets a young farmer named James Lucas.


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