Category Archives: Addison Allen – Sarah

Making It Up As I Go Along by Marian Keyes

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You know how you can pick up a novel by a certain author and instantly know who is telling the story? Marian Keys has one of these distinct writing voices. I’ve read most of her novels, and loved her cookbook, Saved by Cake, so was delighted to come across her most recent collection of stories and life observations, Making It Up As I Go Along.

Making It Up As I Go Along starts with a ‘who’s who in the zoo,’ where a cast of thousands are introduced with gorgeously funny descriptions, with special mention of Mam and Dad, brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces, nephews, dear friends, and Himself, who she describes as; “the fabliss man I’m lucky enough to be married to.”

Next is a dictionary of Irish words and expressions. There are few words that the author assures readers are not swearwords, but I still wouldn’t risk using them in front of my own parents for fear of receiving a clip around the ears. I am planning to use the words ‘spannered,’ ‘banjoed’ and ‘praties’ sometime, although possibly not in the same sentence.

The book is divided into sections of ‘Health and Beauty,’ ‘On My Travels’ (I never thought I would say this, but I think I am going to have to visit the Antartica sometime, read on for further details), ‘Soul Searching’ and other delightful groupings of funny little stories. I enjoyed all of them, but my particular favourites are as follows;

How To Deal With Hostile Hairdressers. Well, this story made me laugh, but only a little bit, because my own fringe is in my eyes and I’ve been pulling the rest into a ponytail for weeks because I desperately need a haircut but am too frightened to go, honestly, I would rather go to the dentist. Being ignored on arrival, then being seated in the window where everybody passing by can see you with your hair plastered down on one side and pinned up on the other, getting an entirely different haircut to the trim requested because you aren’t wearing your glasses and can’t see what the hairdresser is doing, getting sprayed in the face with something toxic, then handing over a ridiculous amount of money for a haircut that you are going to go home and cry about… I think I’m going to take the scissors to the bathroom when I’ve finished writing this and just take a little bit off my fringe so that I won’t need to go to the actual hairdressers for at least another three weeks.

Antartica Diary. After reading this, a trip to Antartica to see the penguins and icebergs has bumped the tour of the Cadbury Chocolate Factory in Hobart off my bucket list.

Writers I Love was a delightful account of a lunch with a group of Irish writers who are household names (we’ve even heard of most of them here in Australia!) to celebrate the launch of a new makeup range. The author writes openly about her issues with depression, which she calls being ‘mad in the head’ and was initially anxious about attending the lunch, but then decided to go and had a great time. Reading about the lunch was almost as good as being there.

All of the stories in the Friends and Family section are great, but my favourite was poor old Himself having to do physiotherapy exercises with the author’s encouragement. I know it isn’t kind to laugh at someone else’s misfortune, but I couldn’t help it. If I yelled “Round we go! Round we go!” or ‘Funky chicken! Funky chicken!” while He Who Eats All of Our Leftovers was doing his exercises, he would probably suggest that I leave him alone. I’m sure he wouldn’t think this was as funny as I did when I was reading this story.

Making It Up As I Go Along is a funny and relatable set of stories which is a must for Marian Keyes fans.

 

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Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

lost

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen is a peaceful book to read. From the very beginning the story felt almost soothing and relaxed, as if everything would come out all right in the end, despite some quite challenging times for the characters.

The main character is Kate, who is just starting to come out of the fog she has been in since her husband’s death a year ago. Kate’s mother in law, Cricket (cute name, by the way), is a perfumed steamroller who wants Kate and her daughter Devin to move in with her. Cricket intends to use Kate and Devin for advertising purposes for her real estate business and for her upcoming political campaign.

Kate gets sidetracked by an old postcard of Lost Lake (evocative name, isn’t it?) in Georgia, which she finds during the move to Cricket’s house and decides to visit her Aunt Eby who owns the holiday resort at the lake. Kate had two perfect weeks at the lake when she was 12, playing with Wes (which is a good strong name for a hero) and his brother Billy.

Q. Who is an appropriate person for a widow with an eight year old daughter to fall in love with?
A. Her childhood friend, who she has not seen since she was 12 years old.

Eby (what were her parents thinking when they named her?) and her late husband George bought Lost Lake when they were newly weds, but lately Eby has been thinking of selling the property and travelling back to Paris, where she and George spent their honeymoon. George was rich, but after they bought a house for Kate’s grandmother and Lost Lake, they gave away all of the money. Their main reason for giving away the money was to get some peace from Eby’s family, who wanted more and more and more.

Lost Lake has a cast of interesting characters who all have their own stories. For example, Lisette is a mute French woman who cooks for Lost Lake’s guests. Lisette has lived with Eby since Lisette attempted suicide as a teenager after she broke someone’s heart. Eby rescued Lisette while on her honeymoon.

Jack is in love with Lisette and has been visiting Lost Lake for years. Bulahdeen was a orphan who dragged herself out of poverty to become an English professor. Selma is a woman with eight charms, which she uses to snag eight married men, each of whom leave their wives to marry her.

There is plenty of magic in this story, including an alligator who is a major character with a story too (I know, I know, the alligator is weird, but somehow it works).

I would have liked to explore some of the character’s stories more, as each were worthy of being the main focus of this book. As a heroine Kate probably needed a few more challenges and some conflict to be a really good, strong character. The author touched on the idea that Kate’s husband Matt loved her less than she loved him, and I felt this theme could have been expanded to give Kate more depth.

The cover art is lovely and the old post cards which mark each section of the book are wonderful. I would love to have seen these in colour.

Sarah Addison Allen has written other books which I won’t rush out to read, but will get to eventually, knowing that Lost Lake was an enjoyable read.

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