Friday, September 25, 2009
Celebrate the Author: Marian Keyes
This Charming Man by Marian Keyes
Reasons for reading: I'm celebrating Marian Keyes' September 10, 1963 birthday this month for Celebrate the Author, because I lurve her books!
From the publisher: "Paddy de Courcy is Ireland's debonair politician, the "John F. Kennedy Jr. of Dublin." His charm and charisma have taken hold of the country and the tabloids, not to mention our four heroines: Lola, Grace, Marnie, and Alicia. But though Paddy's winning smile is fooling Irish minds, the broken hearts he's left in his past offer a far more truthful look into his character. Narrated in turn by each woman, This Charming Man explores how their love for this one man has shaped their lives. But in true Marian Keyes fashion, this is more than a story of four love affairs. It's a testament to the strength women find in themselves through work, friendship, and family, no matter what demons may be haunting their lives. Depression, self-doubt, domestic abuse—each of these women has seen tough times in life, and it's through Keyes's wonderful storytelling ability that these subjects are approached with the appropriate tone and candor. Her deft touch provides a gripping story and, ultimately, a redemptive ending."
First line: "Everyone remembers where they were the day they heard that Paddy de Courcy was getting married."
My thoughts: Another winner from Marian Keyes! I left of .25 of a star just because I could've used a bit more of her humour and felt it was just a wee bit long. But still very much worth reading!!
Lola is hilariously Bridget Jones-y and gets caught up in a ridiculously funny subplot involving cross-dressers as well as the usual small-town Ireland hijinks in the town of Knockavoy, which Keyes has written about before. (Also, see if you can figure out why there's a toaster on the cover. :-) ) The diary-speak is a bit wearing, but still fun and I really enjoyed seeing her go from a (very funny) wreck to an in-control businesswoman again.
I found Grace to be the most "realistic" of the characters - she has her demons, but she mostly manages to function. She was neither ridiculous like Lola nor tragic like her sister Marnie. In typical Keyes fashion, the Gildee parents are a hoot, particularly when they repeatedly think Grace should leave work to go and hunt for their dog.
Marnie - gosh. What a sad, sad human being. She's not particularly likeable, yet you feel sorry for her (at least up until a point - eventually I was pretty much disgusted with her). Keyes apparently dealt with alcoholism herself and you can tell from Marnie's story - it's an incredibly harsh, scary look at what drinking can do to a person and how it's possible to lose everything and still not be able to give it up. I found that the Marnie sections were what made it a bit too long, but it's still an amazing portrait of addiction.
And Paddy - wow. The most dreadful villain I've read about in a long time, you can hardly believe that such a slimeball could exist, let alone be so outwardly charming, but I'm sure there are some out there. But hooray, as you knew there would be, there's revenge on Paddy by the end! I obviously won't tell you how, but it's great to see and a welcome relief.
The verdict: Another winner from Keyes, who has always written chick lit with a bit of an edge, but is now moving beyond the format into something darker, while still being funny and entertaining.