Book reviews

Posts tagged ‘Marian Keyes’

The Break by Marian Keyes

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The Break by Marian Keyes is sure to be a bestseller.

Amy, the main character, seems to have it all. She is happily married to a lovely fellow named Hugh with three children. It’s a blended family – the eldest is hers from a young marriage, the middle one is a niece who they inherited from hopeless relatives, and the youngest is theirs. Amy is a publicist whose working life appears glamourous, filled with celebrities and events as she jets between London and Ireland, where she and Hugh live. Money is tight, but on the whole, she and Hugh like each other and their life.

However, as you might expect, all is not what it seems and Amy is left distraught when Hugh announces he wants to take a six-month break from their life and marriage to travel through Asia alone. Amy reluctantly agrees, knowing that Hugh has been suffering depression since the unexpected death of his father.

Hugh disappears and Amy is left alone to cope with a household that has formerly been managed by two parents while continuing her busy working life. She struggles with some of her single friends who want to welcome her into the ‘all men are untrustworthy’ club, while feeling like a third wheel amongst her coupled friends. Worst of all, not long into Hugh’s trip one of Amy’s daughters finds a photo on social media of Hugh with a young woman with whom he is obviously romantically involved.

Things become even more complicated for Amy when she and a man with whom she previously had a light-hearted work flirtation reconnect at a work event.

I’m a big fan of Marian Keyes and always particularly like her main characters. They usually experience some life event or other that could happen to any of us – although let me be clear about one thing, there is no way on this earth I’d ever let He Who Eats All of Our Leftovers out of my sight for six months. I would not let him go for even three weeks. He is far too handsome and wonderful and someone else would be sure to snaffle him up.

However, apart from my refusal to play along with that particular plot line, Marian Keyes’s main characters often have families who seem funny if you’re an outsider but are excruciating to be related to, they have good friends and they nearly always work in an interesting industry. The Break is no exception. Amy’s parents are hilarious, her eldest daughter is narky, her ex-husband is a tool and her workmates are a funny mixture of lovely, awkward, and lecherous.

I guessed how The Break would end, but I enjoyed going through Amy’s emotions with her as the story was told. A perfect read for the holidays or when you just want to be entertained.

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The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes

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The Woman Who Stole My Life is Marian Keyes’ latest housebrick of a novel. I’ve read and enjoyed all of her novels, but did not connect with this story as well as I have with others.

This story starts with the heroine, Stella, a married mother of two falling ill with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare condition which causes her to be completely paralysed and only able to communicate by blinking.

Stella’s neurologist, Mannix, devises a way to communicate with her and writes down everything she says (in blinks), which include a number of pithy and inspirational sayings. Mannix, who has a six-pack and is married to a model, falls in love with Stella (!) and removes himself from her case, but arranges to have Stella’s sayings published for her by a Vanity Press. When Stella recovers, a celebrity is seen reading her book and all at once she is a best selling author, has left her husband and is living with Mannix in New York after he gave up his career and his wife to become Stella’s manager. Didn’t see that coming, did you?

While I love Marian Keyes style and voice, the plot of this book was too over-the-top, even for me. I wasn’t all that mad about the characters either. Stella didn’t have a great deal of substance, her husband loved himself to bits, her son was a pain in the proverbial and Mannix was too good to be true. I just couldn’t believe in their romance.

What I did enjoy was reading about was the behind the scenes stuff about publishing. The wheeling and dealing was intense and the travelling and promoting of the book was gruelling. When Stella’s book failed to sell as well as expected, she was dumped in about three seconds flat. I had a far more romantic view of publishing before reading The Woman Who Stole My Life.

I’ll definitely read Marian Keyes’ next offering but would recommend other of her books over this one.

 

 

 

 

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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