Thursday 6 November 2014

Review: The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes

Stella Sweeny 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?

Review: there's always a great sense of anticipation surrounding a new Marian Keyes novel, and you always think to yourself, am I going to enjoy this one as much as the last? Well I though this novel was very enjoyable. It felt very different to her previous stand-alone novels (i.e. those not about the Walsh family) a little but darker and yet still with that hilarious Irish humour and charm! It's one of those novels that drops you right in the middle of things, you meet Stella, you discover she is back in Ireland but she really doesn't want to be, and you know that she is a writer. The rest of the characteristics about Stella, you have to pick up as you read about events that are happening and have happened to her and I really enjoy a novel that allows you to do that, gives you a bit of credit for your ability to decipher what is going on with characters and plot without being explicitly told so.

I'm undecided as to whether I like Stella as a character or not. Just to state that this in no way impeded upon my enjoyment of the book overall. I found her to be a little indecisive and selfish but not in an overtly selfish way because she still takes care of her kids and the rest of her family, but just in the way she makes some of the larger decisions in her life, or doesn't, as the case may be. The supporting characters in this novel are just as well-developed and just as major players and the main characters and I really enjoyed reading about the quirks of Stella's children, Betsy and Jeffrey, and her husband Ryan. They were all really interesting characters, larger than life and totally unique.

Of course there is a lovely man to ogle over in this book too, never fear! Mannix is a wonderful character. I did grow to like him slightly less as the novel progressed, but he is a hot doctor who is called Mannix, what's not to like?

There are some great settings in this book, in Ireland and in New York. I realty like the fact that that novel is set between these two locations and the descriptions of life on the road in America are also really interesting and really well-developed, not detail is left out. The humour in the novel is still right-on. Whilst there are some very, very dark moments in the book, there are some seriously hilarious moments too, and some just random things happen which is just a real break from everything being so serious all of the time. Sometimes the novel did feel a little darker and a little more serious, but this is a reflection of life, I suppose, so I can't really complain about that.

A Marian Keyes novel is something that can be enjoyed at any age, at any time of year and whatever mood you're in, and this novel is no exception. Although it is a large book and not particularly fast paced, it never felt like a chore to read and I actually read it very quickly considering its size and general structure. It is definitely something for fans of this writer and represents something a little bit different for those that have never read anything by her before! I would definitely recommend reading this, and any other Marian Keyes novel for that matter-it would make an excellent Christmas present!

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