Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, June 13, 2008

Let Marian Keyes introduce you to This Charming Man

Marian Keyes is one of those authors who are a living embodiment of that old saying,"you can't judge a book by it's cover". A quick look over at the artwork that graces many of her best selling works might lead some to simply dismiss her as yet another British chick lit person.

Well,they would be wrong on both counts;Keyes is an Irish woman and while the plots of her novels are rather female friendly,the main focus is not just on love and relationships but the darker side of life.

Subjects such as spousal abandonment,alcoholism,dysfunctional families and violence against women are tackled head on with a realistic tone and identifiability that rounds out her characters and gives the reader more of a rooting interest in their lives.

Her latest book,This Charming Man,introduces us to four women whose lives are impacted by the news that up and coming Irish politician Paddy de Courcey is getting married. Each woman takes a portion of the narrative and as you learn about each one's connection to Paddy(who is loaded with mounds of charisma that most Hollywood stars would openly envy),the dots can be connected to truly see what sort of man he really is.

First up is Lola Daly,who had been dating Paddy for over a year,and is shocked that he would announce his engagement to another woman in public,without even giving her a heads-up beforehand. Lola's distress over this causes her to put her budding career as a stylist on hold(due to chronic lateness to appointments,burning client's dresses and other mishaps)and retreat to the small village of Knockavoy in County Clare to avoid all of the media surrounding the impending nuptials:

Next is Grace Gildee,an investigative reporter who is hounding Lola for an interview about her breakup with Paddy and keeps telling Lola that she knows plenty about his private life. That turns out to be true,and her own links to Paddy's past are the fuel that drives her towards exposing him to the world:

Then we meet Marnie,Grace's twin sister,whose struggles with alcohol become more and more threatening to everything she hold dear in life;her job,her marriage and her children. Her teen romance with Paddy sparked off not only her lifelong bouts of depression but some of Paddy's less than courtly ways of love:

Finally,we hear from Alicia Thornton,the official finance,who has being planning and waiting for her chance to be with Paddy for a very long time. Alicia has endured much and has doled out her share of betrayals in return to reach her goal,but is really getting something of worth here or simply a hell of her own making?:

You mustn't think that This Charming Man or any of Keyes' books are dreary dramas to
simply get thru. On the contrary,she also brings into the mix dashes of humor and down to earth sensibilities that give the situations her character are in some firm ground to stand on and take a stand as well. Lola,in particular,helps out with that as she finds an unusual way to still keep her stylist skills from going rusty.

As in her earlier novels like Rachel's Holiday,Keyes showcases the horrors of alcohol abuse(and in This Charming Man,physical abuse of women)and other problems that folks face in life by having the reader view things thru the eyes of the person in denial of her situation,making that slow transition from what she prefers her world to be rather than what it is really like together. As you bond with the character,you can also realize the folly of such thinking and strive for her to find her way out of the ditch she's dug herself into.

This Charming Man will be released on June 17,and is a compellingly charming but thoughtful read that I hope many folks will embrace this summer. The author seems to be a delightful person herself and one that I would love to run into,whether in her home town of Dublin or while browsing about in New York:

1 comment:

Ladytink_534 said...

I'm not sure whether I've read anything by Marian Keyes or not. I love the interviews with her though! She is hilarious.