Book Review: Watermelon by Marian Keyes

Watermelon

I recently read The Break by Marian Keyes and really enjoyed it – so when my 2017 Reading Challenge suggested ‘ the first book in a series’ I thought I’d go back to the start of Marian’s writing and read  the first book in her series about the Walsh sisters.

Here’s the blurb:

“On the day she gives birth to her first child, Claire Walsh’s husband James tells her he’s been having an affair and now’s the right time to leave her.
Right for who exactly? Exhausted, tearful and a tiny bit furious, Claire can’t think of what to do. So she follows the instincts of all self-respecting adults in tricky situations.
. . . And runs home to Mum and Dad.
But while her parents are sympathetic, Claire’s younger sisters are less so. Helen wants to share the new toy (she means baby Kate). While Anna is too busy having out-of her-head experiences.
So when James slips back into her life, desperate to put things right, Claire doesn’t know whether to take a chance on a past she feared she’d lost forever or face an uncertain future of her own.
But is she as on her own as she really believes?”

Very early on in the book I had a wobble.  Claire takes her 2 day old baby and flies from London to Dublin.  I was concerned about the lack of official documentation, surely there are child trafficking issues if the new baby doesn’t have a name, let alone a birth certificate or passport. Anyway, I gave myself a good shake, and reminded myself it was a book and I shouldn’t be so anal.

Slightly further on – Claire, at her parents’ home in Dublin, phones her husband back in London – but he doesn’t pick up.  Why doesn’t she text him?  Facebook or Twitter direct message him?  Send  him a quick Whatsapp or Snapchat message?  I am confused.  I then check when the book was published and it was 1995!!  This is practically a historical novel!  I hadn’t even graduated or been married the first time back then.  So – I went back to the book with a slightly different view point!!

The book is told from Claire’s point of view – and she thinks around facts A LOT.  Sometimes I wanted to give her a slap and get her to concentrate on the task in hand.

I found the character of James REALLY annoying (and not just because he is giving accountants bad press!) – but he was horrible and controlling and not nice at all.  I also didn’t particularly like either of Claire’s sisters that you meet in this book (so I don’t think I’ll be pursuing the rest of the Walsh family books TBH)

A lot of the writing felt quite frantic, and rush rush rush from topic to topic – almost manic at times. I think Ms Keyes’ writing style has definitely improved over 20 years.

Overall it was amusing, emotional, entertaining and not challenging to read – but hasn’t made me want to go through the entire Marian Keyes back catalogue in order (which was kind of my reasoning for starting with the first one).

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: The Break by Marian Keyes

The Break

I have blogged before about my love (bordering on total fangirl-ness) for Marian Keyes, and so was very excited when her next book was put on Netgalley – so I downloaded an advanced review copy for free in return for feedback!

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“The Break is the brand new, funny, touching and truly fabulous novel from Marian Keyes . . .

‘Myself and Hugh . . . We’re taking a break.’
‘A city-with-fancy-food sort of break?’

If only.
Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her.
He still loves her, he’s just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in south-east Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.
Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . .
However, for Amy it’s enough to send her – along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers – teetering over the edge.
For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?
Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then isn’t she?
The Break isn’t a story about falling in love but about staying in love. It is Marian Keyes at her funniest, wisest and brilliant best.”

The central character is Amy – who at 44, is a very similar age to me, which is always a winner.  She and Hugh seem to have a secure – if slightly complicated – family set up.  I was concerned I’d be confused as to which ‘daughter’ was which – but soon settled in to it.

The extended friends, family and colleagues are also an important part of the storyline – and you feel like you get to know all of them – and most are really likeable in their own way.

I liked Amy a lot (although a couple of times wanted to shout at her to get a grip, or at least stand up to her mother about ‘babysitting’ her Dad when she had such a busy life already) but was always in her corner.

The way everyday references are brought in are great – social media, vlogging, internet shopping – all used in a totally ‘normal’ way.  I particularly liked the fact that not ‘liking’ a friend’s Facebook posts for over a week clearly showed you were upset with them!!

I also enjoyed the Strictly references – knowing that the author is a superfan (and quite frankly a joy to watch every time she’s on It Takes Two!) – I could almost hear her reading out that section of the book!

There was also an amusing section about people bringing round casseroles in time of trouble (although maybe the casserole is an Irish thing – as when a friend was having a tough time it was mince and tomato based meals in Worcestershire!!) – but the principle was totally the same.

I really enjoyed that throughout the book you didn’t know what was going to happen after ‘The Break’ – exactly as Amy didn’t.  And obviously I won’t give away what does!

There are so many interesting characters in the book, this could quite easily turn into the start of a series??  #wishfulthinking?!

Overall this is another great book from Ms Keyes – I would definitely recommend you read it when it comes out in September.  Now – to see if I can shoehorn it into my 2017 Reading Challenge! 

 

Book Review – The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes

Ok – at this point I need to confess to a bit of a girl crush on Marian Keyes. I follow her on Twitter and feel like we’ve watched the last few series of Strictly Come Dancing together. Hey – she’s even TWEETED ME BACK a couple of times (dances a jig!) We also share a love of Clinique Chubby Sticks. So – with all of these mutual interests – I had high hopes for her new(ish) book ‘The Woman Who Stole My Life’ and took it away with us to read over the Christmas break.

The Woman Who Stole My Life

Here is what Amazon have to say about it:

“International bestselling author Marian Keyes is back with another masterfully told story full of wit and charm.

‘Name: Stella Sweeney.

Height: average.

Recent life events: dramatic.’

One day, sitting in traffic, married Dublin mum Stella Sweeney attempts a good deed. The resulting car crash changes her life.

For she meets a man who wants her telephone number (for the insurance, it turns out). That’s okay. She doesn’t really like him much anyway (his Range Rover totally banjaxed her car).

But in this meeting is born the seed of something which will take Stella thousands of miles from her old life, turning an ordinary woman into a superstar, and, along the way, wrenching her whole family apart.

Is this all because of one ill-advised act of goodwill? Was meeting Mr Range Rover destiny or karma? Should she be grateful or hopping mad?

For the first time real, honest-to-goodness happiness is just within her reach. But is Stella Sweeney, Dublin housewife, ready to grasp it?

Marian’s stunning new novel The Woman Who Stole My Life is about losing the life you had and finding a better one.”

I have to say that I really enjoyed it.  There were some total laugh out loud moments (so I was ‘LOLing’ on my sunlounger in both senses of the word!!) but it is also really moving.  I thought the title was going to be predictable in the story line – which it was – and wasn’t!  It combined many different story lines woven together that if you set out as individual facts would look odd – but it all flowed brilliantly.  The fact that Stella is a slightly chubby, 40 something Mum also rang true (although not lots of the other stuff, before my husband gets concerned!!)  Also, having been to New York fairly recently – I enjoyed the bits set there.

It is not a deep, complicated read – but it is fun, easy, and you always want to keep reading to see how it’s going to develop.

Now – I must go and download some of Ms Keyes’s back catalogue…..