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Bodice Rippers & Erotica Book Reviews: Marian Keyes

Visit the Marian Keyes website. In 2010, Marian Keyes spent most of the year battling a debilitating and crippling depression. She shared her experience on social media and received enormous support. Well, the good news is that she is much better. She baked her way back to health. Yep, she was Saved by Cake. Saved by Cake is a new cookbook which are Marian's particular brand of recipes and philosophy.


The Brightest Star in the Sky
This Charming Man
Sushi for Beginners
Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married
Anybody Out There
Angels
Last Chance Saloon
Rachels Holiday
Watermelon

The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian KeyesBook Cover of Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes

Read by Tracy June 2012

Tracy recommends if you are looking for a light-hearted read that you can finish and put away, this is the one for you.

The Brightest Star in the Sky is narrated by an ethereal being who arrives at 66 Star Street, Dublin, a converted block of apartments. We are introduced to the varied residents and their eclectic lifestyles. You immediately get a feeling that the narrator isn't there to cause harm, instead to choose a resident for a certain purpose - of which doesn't become abundantly clear until the story starts to reach its climax. Because the narrator isn't one of the residents, instead able to float between the apartments, floors and lives, you are able to become engrossed in their daily lives. Each chapter starts with a countdown of days so the build-up continues apace and you find out small secrets and the interactions of the residents.

66 Star Street is the home to newlyweds, Matt and Maeve, who on the outside have an almost humdrum existence, but underneath have a terrifying story that needs a relentlessly ordered life to just stay afloat, even doing and documenting daily acts of kindness; Lydia, a taxi-driver who has a hard exterior and who mercilessly bullies her Polish roommates, but underneath she is trying to hold her family together and we learn why she hates housework; Katie, a PR executive for a record company who spends her time trying to organise the hopefully organised rock stars and who eventually realises her boyfriend can't fit her into his life so leaves him; wise and old Jemima with her dog and foster son Fionn who is about to hit the big time with a TV show on gardening. Soon the residents stories start to collide with Katie and Fionn hooking up, Lydia and Katies’ ex hooking up, Lydia and her Polish roommate hooking up, Fionn wanting to hook up with Maeve – get the drift!

There is plenty of wit, humour and intrigue as we have seen in previous Keyes books. At the countdown of days continues and the secrets unfold, at the end of the book the narrator is finally unveiled and although some of the storylines finish in a dark place, I felt it was all too neat. Every box ticked, everyone happy. Even previously unknown neighbours all get together to help each other.

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This Charming Man by Marian KeyesBook Cover of This Charming Man by Marian Keyes

Read by Natalie 2009

Natalie recommends this as a great read

This is a mammoth book by Marian Keyes, but is also a great read. I found it very hard to put down and it was both funny and sad. It's the story of Paddy de Courcy, a well know Irish politician, who is also a bit of a ladies' man. The story is told by four separate women, the stylist Lola, who thought she was Paddy's girlfriend until he announced his marriage to someone else! Journalist Grace, who wants the inside story on Paddy's sudden engagement. Her sister Marnie whose first love just happened to by Paddy and Alicia, the soon to be bride of Paddy. Each of the four women is very different, but they all have something in common, they know a dark secret about Paddy. Despite an initial reluctance, each of the women and a few more along the way are determined to show everyone who the real Paddy is and in doing so, save Alicia from her marriage. I found this to be a great read, with lots going on including an interesting cross-dressing storyline that kept Lola occupied as she mourned the loss of her relationship. A little darker than some of her earlier novels, because of the subject matter, it is nevertheless, a fun and entertaining read.

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Sushi for Beginners by Marian KeyesBook Cover of Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes

Read by Natalie and Tracy

Natalie and Tracy recommend this as another good read from Marian!

Again, another great book by Marian Keyes, who can seem to do no wrong when it comes to writing chick-lit. Packing a little more punch than your typical chick-lit, they are still entertaining reads. This is the story of three modern women and their search for happiness. Lisa, is a seemingly stuck-up Prada wearing magazine editor whose new job turns out to be a "demotion" to Dublin to launch a new magazine. Ashling, is Lisa's assistant editor and world-famous worrier who feels like something is missing from her life. Finally there is Clodagh, Ashling's best friend who has what looks like a perfect life and then throws it all away. The three stories intertwine and there are some very funny moments which make this a fun read.

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Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian KeyesBook Cover of Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes

Read by Natalie and Tracy

Natalie and Tracy recommend this as fun reading

Yet another great book by Marian Keyes, this is the story of Lucy Sullivan, a girl who doesn't even have a boyfriend, but was told by a tarot card reader that she would be walking down the aisle within the year. Her flatmates definitely don't want this to happen, they want to continue their fun party-filled lifestyle, while Lucy thinks it's impossible given she is too busy sorting out her family and she doesn't even have a boyfriend. Enter the naughty Gus, which gets Lucy to thinking, that maybe marriage isn't so far away after all, even if she is looking at the wrong man (think cute best friend Daniel, who is also a bit of a flirt, but just happens to be secretly in love with Lucy). This was a fun read, and was actually made into a UK TV series that I just happened to stumble across one day. While this was so-so in terms of acting and storyline, it did feature a very young Gerard Butler as the very naughty Gus!

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Anybody Out There? by Marian KeyesBook Cover of Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes

Read by Natalie and Tracy

Natalie recommends this as probably the best book on the Walsh sisters, whereas Tracy thinks it is about time the Walsh sisters grew up and became adults

This is the fourth book on the Walsh sisters (see Watermelon, Rachel's Holiday and Angels) and I think it is the best. It is the story of Anna, the youngest and probably the craziest of the Walsh sisters and her life in New York with the best job and best life. All seems to be going perfectly for Anna when she meets and marries the beautiful Aidan, until one day she wakes up bruised and battered back in Ireland with no memory of how she got there and wondering why Aidan won't return any of her calls. The book is about Anna's discovery of what happened to her and how she deals with it. I actually found this book to be very sad, although the is a little light at the end of the tunnel, which frustratingly isn't quite answered by Keyes, but is just enough to keep you waiting for the next book....which is still not out! As usual we get plenty of family banter and it is nice to visit some of the sisters we have seen in previous books. Tracy however thinks is about time that Keyes gave us a break from the Walsh sisters.

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Angels by Marian KeyesBook Cover of Angels by Marian Keyes

Read by Natalie

Natalie recommends this as the least entertaining of her books

This is the third Walsh family book by Marian Keyes (see Watermelon and Rachel's Holiday below) and I would say the worst of them. This is the story of Maggie, the oldest Walsh sister who has always done the right thing and is the most normal of the dysfunctional Walsh family. However one day she up and leaves her husband and moves to LA where she moves in with her friend and starts behaving very abnormally! Not sure what it was that I didn't like about this book, but I just didn't enjoy this story as much. There is still plenty of funny dialogue though and of course a happy ending, so it's still a fun read.

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Last Chance Saloon by Marian KeyesBook Cover of Last Chance Saloon by Marian Keyes

Read by Natalie

Natalie recommends this as fun reading

Last Chance Saloon is a fun look at three best friends as they grow up and experience life. Friends since they were teenagers, they are now in their thirties, navigating crappy relationships, jobs, friendship and illness. The book is funny, sad, silly and light-hearted and although we know things are always going to turn out right in the end, Marian has an unexpected way of getting us there. The characters are good fun, especially Fintan and the romance is good. Make yourself a cuppa, or better yet pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back and enjoy!

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Rachel's Holiday by Marian KeyesBook Cover of Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes

Read by Natalie

Natalie recommends this as a bit more serious than Watermelon

This is the second in the Walsh family series, after Watermelon (see review below) and is all about Rachel, the middle sister. Living it up in New York City, Rachel is having the time of her life, partying and using a few too many recreational drugs and alcohol to get by. Things get a little crazy when she ends up in the emergency room and this leads to her parents swooping in and taking her back to Dublin for rehab. Here Rachel struggles, desperately wanting to get back to the fun times in New York and the man she left behind. Eventually though she discovers that maybe partying isn't all it's cracked up to be. Quite a bit more serious than its predecessor, although still plenty of laughs along the way.

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Watermelon by Marian KeyesBook Cover of Watermelon by Marian Keyes

Read by Natalie

Natalie recommends this as great chick-lit

I love Marian Keyes' books, she has such a funny sense of humour and although it is just chick-lit, they often contain serious issues as well. She has written several books about the Walsh family in Ireland, and this is the first. Watermelon tells the story of Claire, the second of the five Walsh sisters, whose husband leaves her for the woman in the downstairs flat on the day Claire gives birth to their first child. Humiliated, Claire heads back home to Dublin, where she moves back in with her parents and two of the sisters and goes through all the stages of grief. This includes a brief steamy fling with Adam, a college friend of her younger sisters, who may just have a few secrets of his own. Eventually, James, the rat husband shows up and tries to get Claire back, only to discover she may in fact be over him. This is good fun reading and the banter between the family is great reading.

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