Saturday, 18 October 2014

Weekend Book Review | The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes

*Does a "Marian Keyes is back" dance*

Yes, having been a big Marian Keyes fan for years now I was greatly anticipating her latest release, The Woman Who Stole My Life and so I was thrilled when NetGalley sent me a pre-release to review.
Our protagonist here is Stella, a married mum of two troublesome teenagers who works with her sister as a beautician. Her husband is a designer of very fancy bathrooms (think disco balls) and is a bit of an egomaniac but overall, Stella has a pretty ordinary life. That is until she is struck down by a rare, debilitating and life-altering condition, requiring a lengthy hospital stay. 
The book is told in different stages of time; her life before her illness, her time in hospital, her life post-sickness when she writes a best selling book of inspirational quotes and finally, her life post-book, living in New York where she struggles with writers block and tries to produce a second best seller. It sounds almost like there's four books in one there but the stories are cleverly woven amongst each other and it means that Stella becomes a much more well-rounded character because of all of the details of her life that we receive.


I found that the chapters where Stella is in hospital in particular resonated with me. Having been quite unwell myself in the past, I remember well what it feels like to be a patient and to feel stuck in that role- stripping you of a lot of what makes you you and giving you a new "sick person" identity. I felt Keyes captured this element really very well and especially as the condition that Stella has basically means that she's completely trapped, I felt what she felt so acutely that it was almost like being in her hospital bed with her. On that note, it also made me think long and hard about my own nursing care of others and how I've treated patients in a similar situation to Stella. Thankfully, I know that I've always tried to be more mindful and aware than her fictional nurses are but still, I thought it was an impressively written viewpoint and provided some real food for thought. 
I won't lie, those chapters are hard going at times but are obviously very important to the storyline and will make you truly root for Stella in her endeavours to get her life back; if anyone deserves to be happy it's her. It's a great example of what the human spirit is capable of and will certainly put your own worries into sharp focus. That said the rest of the book takes on more of a lighter tone with Stella experiencing a burgeoning romance, a move abroad and a pretty manic book tour across America.
The supporting characters in this are equally as entertaining as Stella; I loved her mad sister Karen, her dad reading to her at her hospital bedside and her at times fairly arrogant doctor, Mannix. 

I really enjoyed this book, I stayed up late into the night reading it (furtively in the dark on my kindle so as not to wake himself) and I thought it kept the momentum going nicely.
I've said this before about Marian Keyes and I'll say it again; she is undeserving of the title "chick lit". All of her books deal with serious life issues in an incisive and at times heart-breaking fashion; it's a pretty remarkable skill to discuss topics like this in such a sensitive way but then to also infuse them with the classic warmth and Irish wit that Keyes does so naturally is quite special in my opinion. 

If you loved her previous novels then I think you'll enjoy this. I've a feeling it's going to be a massive best seller and will no doubt be under many's the Christmas tree this year! It's out on November 6/7th.
XX

14 comments:

  1. Fabulous review Chloe, Marian is our family's all time faves. I'll definitely be picking this up for my Momma but the question is, can I read it without breaking the spine before I give it to her?? Shag it I'll get two xx

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    1. Aw thank you. Ha! I always think that as well- if you're veeerrry careful you should manage it! xx

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  2. Cant wait to read it , I love Marion x

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  3. This is one of the next on my list to read myself! Glad to see you enjoyed it

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    1. Excellent, looking forward to seeing what you think!

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  4. I love Marian Keyes - if you're on Twitter, do follow her 'cos she's so charming and hilarious! I'll deffo get my hands on her new title. You're right, she does write with much more depth than you'd expect from the chick-lit label.

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    1. I do indeed follow her and she actually followed me back after this review, which was nice! Always been a big fan of her books :)

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  5. Mum's birthday is Nov 6 so that's her pressie sorted, thanks Chloe!

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  6. I might add this to my Christmas book list, I have no idea why but I thought it had a completely different storyline altogether, it sounds much more interesting than I thought! I definitely think Marian is undeserving of the chick-lit title, Jodi Picoult is the same - definitely not light fluffy schmaltzy reading. Marian's books have great heart to them, looking forward to reading this!

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    1. Yay! Yeah I enjoyed it, it was very different to what I expected too. Agree with you on Jodi as well, some really serious topics in her books too, really gets you thinking.

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  7. Lovely - I can't wait to get my hands on it!

    Holly from Sweet Like Cinnamon Blog
    www.sweetlc.blogspot.com

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  8. I've just installed iStripper, so I can have the sexiest virtual strippers on my desktop.

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