Friday, 14 November 2014
Review: The Women Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes
Publisher: Michael Joseph/Penguin
Publication Date: 534
Source: Publisher **I received this book for review from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
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Stella Sweeney is back in Dublin. After living the dream in New York for a year - touring her self-help book, appearing on talk shows all over the USA and living it up in her 10-room duplex on the Upper West Side - she's back to normality with a bang. And she's got writer's block.
Stella wants a clean break as she didn't exactly leave New York on a high. Why is she back in Ireland so soon? Who is it who keeps calling? Stella wants to get back to being the woman she used to be. But can she? And should she?
I've been a massive fan of Marian for years now. I first stumbled on her when I was visiting family in England years ago. I was searching around my Aunt's house for something to read and came across Anybody Out There?. I didn't get any sleep that night. Than when I got home I proceeded to buy and devour the rest of her books published at that time. Marian really has a way of drawing me into her book within the first page. And that was no different this time around with The Women Who Stole My Life. Of course I was extremely excited for the release of this one. And I really didn't know what to expect as the synopsis is a little vague. Even more exciting was going into this blind and just finding out what Marian had in store for me as I flipped the pages.
After having read The Women Who Stole My Life I can understand why the synopsis is not that detailed. It's a hard book to describe without giving away spoilers. I'm going to leave it that way by just saying a few things. This book is about Stella. There's kind of like four different time lines happening(not all at once but they do go back a forth). There's the present, when Stella is back home in Ireland after everything feel apart(at this point we don't know what feel apart, besides her life). The before before is the lead up to her time in the hospital and than her time in the hospital. Than once we've covered that before we go to the most recent before where Stella was in New York and what happened there. Which than leads us back to the present. Confused? It seems confusing written like that, but in actuality it really worked. I was never once scratching my head wondering where I was in Stella's life or what everything was pertaining to. I loved reading all the different timelines, but I was definitely flipping those pages as fast as I could possibly read them because I wanted to know what happened to make Stella's life go to shit. The Women Who Stole My Life takes place over years of Stella's life. So it definitely showcases a lot of major changes in Stella's life. She literally goes from very low to being on top of the world.
Let's talk about "past" Stella. She's married and a mother of two and co-owns a beauty salon with her sister. Than one day she is feeling sick and as the day progresses she starts to lose all her motor functions, etc... Once rushed to the hospital she is put on a ventilator is stuck in her body. Stella's aware of everything that is going on around here. She can hear and see but cannot move besides blinking. Eventually it is discovered she has a very rare disease and nobody knows how long she will sick. Her family visits everyday, her husband Ryan and two kids, Jeffrey and Betsy, etc... It's clear that Ryan is blaming her for being sick and Stella feels awful about not even being able to communicate with him. But she does have some light in her day(well not to start with), Mannix her neurologists visits daily and it soon becomes apparent that a connection is being made. He's the one that figures out how to communicate with her by Stella blinking out words. Stella's time in the hospital is where life changes really start to happen. And that's all I'm going to say.
The one thing I admired about Stella is that even though she was a prisoner in her body for nearly a year she never broke. It would be so easy to go mad just being stuck in your own head but still seeing everything that's going on around you. She's obviously beyond distraught but she just wanted to get better for her family. Stella was a major push-over though. Everybody walked all over her. Ryan was an absolute selfish prick. And even when they decided to split up her blamed her for being sick, and she just accepted that. Because Ryan was an artist it seemed to make his selfishness understood. *sigh* Her sister, Karen was a whole different kind of exasperating. She just talked to Stella like she was incapable of doing anything properly. Every decision Stella made was put down by Karen. And holy crap, her son Jeffrey was the worst. It was like he was the parent and she was the child. Except Jeffrey was 19, lived at home and didn't work. Just spent all his time going to yoga. Those three just really walked all over Stella and she did nothing expect to think that they had a right to. Now Stella does have a certain someone come into her life, and although it doesn't change how passive she is, this person doesn't take advantage of her. They just want to be in Stella's life, and although she finds it hard to believe that, it was really good for Stella to have someone stable and supportive in her life. I enjoyed their time together, even when Stella was being an idiot over it.
Now, I know I just ripped apart a lot of the characters and even Stella herself, but that is the thing that Marian pulls off so well. These aren't characters, they are people. They are full flawed and real. You meet and know these type of people in real life. They aren't characters, they are people. I didn't hate every single person in this book, there were good people that Stella had in her life. The Women Who Stole My Life just showcased how much life can change at a drop of a hat and how important it is to be strong and have support in your life. And Marian does this through her fantastic writing. Like I mentioned before, Marian can draw me into her book on that first page. I think she knows how to grab her reader right away. But she also has a very witty sense of humor. At times it can get a little dark, but it is totally my kind of humor. I laugh a lot when reading a Marian Keyes book. But I also have all the other feels. As you can tell I got angry, but I also had teary moments. I just love how easy it is to connect with her writing and characters.
Although I found the ending quite predictable that didn't take away from my enjoyment of The Women Who Stole My Life. I think it was a unique story and will not be a disappointment to any Marian Keyes fan out there. And will surely start any new reader to than pick up all her previous books. I can't wait to see what Marian us in store for us next.