I am a fan of Marion Keyes and I also quite like a short story so it won’t come as a massive surprise that I really enjoyed it. It is perfect for picking up to read something complete in your lunch break or when you only have a few minutes to spare here and there.
The book is a mixture of journalism and short stories, some previously unpublished, and there’s also a recap of her treatment for alcoholism that she says was also in the first collection (Under the Duvet), which I read quite a while ago. I don’t remember reading that piece before and it’s a real insight into how you can just slip into alcoholism just from starting off drinking a little bit too much and lacking a bit of self-confidence and how that can spiral into a serious problem. I love her for talking about her own experiences so openly like that she doesn’t give herself any excuses she just tells you how it went for her.
The writing is collected under different headings like that cover things like shopping, travel, health & beauty, friends & family and there is a section right at the end that’s just short stories, so it’s typical Marion fare. It’s really funny and charming and as you read it you can’t help but wish you were Irish or at least had an Irish accent just like hers. I really heard her voice in my head all the way through.
Not a criticism so much as an observation but she puts herself down quite a lot which I really don’t like because she is successful and witty and charming and very attractive. I suppose it’s the self-doubt leveller of a lot of women that you’re conditioned to have this low-level self-loathing with your appearance, but it’s sad see it in someone else. Other than that it’s a typical Marian Keyes romp of of laughs with underlying serious themes which I don’t think anyone else does anywhere nearly as well as her and I don’t think she gets the recognition that she deserves for the the themes she tackles.
In here we have women with very low self-esteem, or in abusive relationships and while groups of people whose lives are scored through with envy of a seemingly perfect couple which is like a premonition of today’s Insta-perfect lives that we beat ourselves up for not having all the while knowing full well it’s not real. There’s also journalism that’s about things like a heartbreaking trip to Russia to visit an orphanage and travel for work with the varying glories of short hotel stays.
I’ve made it sound like there’s a lot of doom and gloom but there’s a whole heap of fun in here there’s manicures and knickers and self tan disasters.
I think this is quite an old book now, it was published in 2005 so, thinking of just the Mammy Walsh parts, some of those haven’t aged well but by and large life rumbles along pretty much with the same worries and giggles as since she wrote it. Give it a go.