No other chicklit writer even comes close to achieving what Keyes can: strong, morally based stories about real women that grab your attention from the very first page and hold on to it tight like a hand on a roller coaster. Her latest, This Charming Man, is no exception. To be honest, my wrist is strained from holding the book up until all hours on Monday night (I wasn't sleeping anyway). I mean, it's 676 pages!
The story follows four very different women all connected by one man: Paddy de Courcy. As Ireland's most eligible bachelor, de Courcy has been courting women for years. Now that he's ready to settle down with Alicia, how will all of the other women cope with his absence from their lives? For Nola, it means she leaves her life, her job, and her entire world behind to escape the grief that her politician boyfriend is marrying someone else. For sisters Grace (a journalist) and Marnie (a troubled office manager), it means ending a life-long obsession they each had with Paddy. And, lastly, for Alicia, his intended, it means finally recognizing the love she's carried for Paddy since adolescence.
The lives of the four women intersect and the narrative changes between their four perspectives. If I had a favourite storyline, it would have to be Nola, whose breakdown is tempered by her delightful adventures living in her friend's uncle's summer house. But as with all of Marian Keyes's books, there's a hidden story behind the sweet writing that slowly reveals itself as each of the women confess their own problems when it comes to Paddy de Courcy. Being in the public eye, as a member of an up and coming Irish political party, does little to save face as the novel unravels his less than charming persona.
I won't give anything more away except to say that while I've been ill this week with that damned bronchitis, this has kept very good company indeed.
READING CHALLENGES: Chicklit, chicklit and more chicklit, but at least Keyes is Irish so that counts as a country other than the one my arse currently occupies.