What’s it about?
Amy’s husband Hugh wants a break. He wants, no needs, six months off from their marriage so he can ‘find himself’, preferably in South-East Asia. And Amy has no say in the matter. Of course, it’s a break not a break-up, so when the six months are up, they’ll all just pick up where they left off. Well, in theory…
When I was a teenager, I devoured women’s fiction. I’d go to the library in my decidedly un-cosmopolitan hometown and find the brightest covers I could. I must’ve read hundreds, and satiated my need for them so comprehensively that I rarely pick them up now. The exception to that is always Marian Keyes. Her stories are always so much more than forgettable girl-meets-boy romances. They’re funny, brutally honest and most importantly, kind. Off the top of my head, her back catalogue deals with domestic abuse, alcoholism, depression and bereavement; all dealt with characteristic charm and humour.
This story is no exception. At its centre is a seemingly rock solid marriage, thrown into confusion by bereavement. From there, we encounter issues of (in)fidelity, abortion, family breakdown and how to care for someone with dementia.
So to the story. I’ll admit, the first section dragged for me. I knew the husband was going to bugger off, so I just wanted him to get on with it. I really felt like once he was gone things got moving a bit. In fact, I became so invested in the characters, that when something… emotional happened in the middle of the story, I audibly gasped. I tell you, I don’t easily get involved with characters to an audibly gasping extent.
That is also one of Keyes’s main strengths; she’s an excellent character creator. They are so real that it almost feels like they are people you know ‘in real life’ whose names you’ve forgotten. It’s also a sign of her skill as a writer that she can create a book stuffed with people, and each of them feels distinct, whereas other writers I’ve read recently struggle with three or four.
On the whole, I really liked this book. I read it when I was laid up with flu* and it really took me out of myself, which is saying something. It is funny, warm and makes you want to read more and more, which in the end, is all we really want from a book.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, for definite. Especially if you need a break. No pun intended. Well, maybe a little intended.
The Break by Marian Keyes is published by Penguin priced £20. The paperback is out on 17th May 2018 priced £7.99.
I received an advance copy to review thanks to NetGalley.
*Proper flu. No, not a flu-y cold. It’s not up for debate.