books, Chick lit, new releases, reviews

Review: The Woman Who Stole My Life

I have a strange relationship with Marian Keyes books.  As a person, I love her on Twitter and I could watch her all day on Strictly It Takes Two or Bake Off Extra Slice.  But when it comes to her books, and when I read them, I enjoy them but there are some times I pick one up and just don’t fancy it.  I don’t know if it’s because as well as the humour she deals with Serious Issues – and I’m not always in the market for Proper Problems with my chick lit.*  She is massively, massively popular though – and I know this is a book which is going to be on a lot of Christmas lists this year.

The Woman Who Stole My Life is about Stella Sweeney – who tries to do a good deed and ends up a car crash, the fall out from which will change her life.  The novel jumps backwards and forwards between the now – and various points in the past which explain how she got there.

Now once again, this summary seems short and cryptic, but I’m trying hard not to give too much away because I really enjoyed not knowing all the twists and turns. I will admit that I sometimes found it hard to keep track of when we where we were in the story on occasions – but that may have been down to the formatting in the proof e-copy that I was lucky enough to receive.

One thing that I really wanted to mention was how much I love the title.  Who is the Woman Who Stole My Life ?  I’ve tried writing a sentence to explain what I mean six times – and each time it’s given away too much of the plot.  But trust me when I say when you read it, you’ll understand what I mean.

I think that this may be my favourite of Marian Keyes’ novels.  I like Stella – her voice reminds me of the tone that you get from Marian’s Twitter feed (@MarianKeyes if you don’t already follow her).  I occasionally wanted to give Stella a bit of a talking to, but most of the time I was totally rooting for her as she bounced back from a life-changing experience and tried to figure out what she wanted in life with the assistance (or otherwise) of her family and friends.

And having enjoyed this so much – despite there being some serious issues in there – it’s inspired me to go back and read some of the Keyes backlist that I’ve missed out on.  In fact I think that there may be a Walsh Family book in my library book bag waiting to be read.  Serendipity indeed.

The Woman Who Stole My Life feels like a winter book, something you can curl up on the sofa with and eat Jaffa cakes like there’s no tomorrow – just like Stella does although I give you fair warning that if you do, you may end up in “lady chinos” – just like Stella!

My copy came from Netgalley in return for an honest review, but I’m expecting The Woman Who Stole My Life to be front and centre on the displays and promotions in all the major shops, but if you want to buy online here are some links – for kindle, at Foyles, it’s on my shelves at My Independent Bookshop – where it’ll give some money to one of my local indies or you can buy it through Hive and give money to one of your local indies.

*As the regular reader will be aware, my aversion to Bad Things leads me towards the romance novels and cozy crime and away from Literary Fiction and Prize Winning books.

reviews, women's fiction

Review: Love Me Or Leave Me

Another review of a new book – out today in Kindle, and later in the month in paperback (though I think it’s been available in giant airport size paperback for a few months) – it’s Claudia Carroll’s Love Me Or Leave Me.  You’ll be pleased to here that it’s not one of a series that I’m coming to mid way through, or a serialisation that’s driving me to begging.  I’m also well rested and hopefully coherent!

This is the third of Claudia Carroll’s novels that I’ve read – I have a fourth waiting on the Kindle for me to get around to it (quelle surprise!) and I’ve read a few of her short stories too.  She’s one of a gaggle of Irish authors who I’ll always have a look at when I see that they have something new out, but won’t necessarily automatically buy.

Love Me Or Leave Me tells the story of Chloe – dumped at the altar and rebuilding her life – who takes a job as the General Manager of Ireland’s newest concept hotel – a divorce hotel.  That’s right – you check in married and check out divorced (practically) as the hotel helps you untangle your life from your ex-spouse’s.  But the book doesn’t just follow Chloe – it also follows three of the couples who check in for the hotel’s opening weekend.

I really liked the multiple Points of View you get with this novel – Chloe is a first person narrative – and the others are third person – which helps keep the focus on Chloe and her journey.  But all the stories are interesting and having four means that there are enough twists and and turns to the novel to keep it pacey and interesting without it seeming forced or over dramatic – after all when your heroine’s been left at the altar at the start of the book, there’s not a more drama that can happen to her without it seeming like she’s being picked on by a higher power!  I liked the little reveals of the secrets in the other couple’s relationships and I found myself rooting for different people and various different outcomes.

And for a novel about divorcing couples (and heartbreak) it’s actually a cheerful and up-beat read.  And that’s partly because of that four-way narrative again – each couple’s story is well-fleshed out and feels real, but because there are three of them (and Chloe’s story) you don’t have to have 100 pages of each couple being miserable to set up the split and make you care about what happens to them.  In fact I’d say Carroll’s done a great job of writing each story so that it grabs you and gives you definite opinions about the characters very quickly – without a lot of background waffle.

This is a lovely back to school read – it is romantic and chick lit-y but to me it doesn’t feel like a book for reading on a sun lounger.  Perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon as you curse the British weather – and the lack of an Indian Summer!  Find the Kindle edition here or pre-order the paperback here or from Hive or at your bookseller of choice.