I’ve been hugely looking forward to reading a new novel from Marian Keyes- she’s one of my favourite ‘chick-lit’ (I really don’t like that term, sorry!) authors because she writes her stories with more substance than other novels that are often categorised in this genre.
Here’s the blurb:
Stella Sweeney is back in Dublin. After living the dream in New York for a year – touring her self-help book, appearing on talk shows all over the USA and living it up in her 10-room duplex on the Upper West Side – she’s back to normality with a bang. And she’s got writer’s block.
Stella wants a clean break as she didn’t exactly leave New York on a high. Why is she back in Ireland so soon? Who is it who keeps calling? Stella wants to get back to being the woman she used to be. But can she? And should she?
I’ve got to say, this book really made me laugh; it seemed like a different kind of humour to some of her other novels, perhaps more of a dry wit. The novel jumps between various time frames, and in this review I will try not to reveal too much about the storyline which the reader won’t learn quite early on anyway. The main bulk of the book is concerned with the recovery and aftermath of Stella’s sudden paralysing illness, the ensuing relationship with her neurologist Mannix Taylor and their busy tour of America whilst promoting Stella’s book One Blink at a Time. In a separate time frame we see her life as it is ‘now’, having returned to Ireland without Mannix, and finally extracts from One Blink at a Time reveal Stella’s thoughts and feelings whilst she was paralysed in hospital. This narrative strand was actually quite frightening and I really felt for Stella. Despite her frustration and fear during her time in hospital, Keyes still manages to inject some humour into the situation which stops the story from becoming too negative. The very serious subject matter is treated just right, leaving me thinking about the way paralysing illnesses must affect those who suffer with them but still including some of Stella’s quick wit.
I hugely enjoyed reading all three narrative strands, although I felt that the book seems to become a bit less humorous as the story continues. This makes sense really due to the content, as things in general start to go downhill for Stella in various ways.
Because you know from the beginning of the novel that Stella is single afterwards (we learn this fairly early on in the present day narrative), I was waiting for the point at which their relationship must fail – otherwise, why aren’t they together now? This certainly kept me reading and I barely put the novel down.
I didn’t feel particularly interested in some of the characters, such as Stella’s kids Jeffrey and Betsy, and of course her useless ex-husband Ryan, but I loved Mannix’s character- I felt like he was the perfect boyfriend character without seeming unrealistic. He was believable but didn’t always do everything right, which only added to the richness of his character. Stella, on the other hand, had a really hard time and I often felt so sorry for her- but her reluctance to show Mannix how much she really cared frustrated me at times, and her untrusting nature inevitably pushed Mannix away.
The one negative I felt about the novel was that the end did seem a little rushed – I was surprised to realise I only had a tiny part of the novel left and instantly wondered how it was all going to end given that there was only about 50 pages left. I feel that there could have been longer spent on the ending and would have happily read another hundred pages to be honest- this is a testament to Marian Keyes’ storytelling which is always brilliant in my opinion.
I don’t know if it’s necessarily her best novel out of all of them, but it certainly entertained me and was very enjoyable!
I received an advance copy of this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review.