It’s hard to believe that it’s 25th years since the Irish wonder that is Marian Keyes released ‘Rachel’s Holiday’
Meet Rachel Walsh. She’s been living it up in New York City, spending her nights talking her way into glamorous parties before heading home in the early hours to her adoring boyfriend, Luke. But her sensible older sister showing up and sending her off to actual rehab wasn’t quite part of her plan. She’s only agreed to her incarceration because she’s heard that rehab is wall-to-wall jacuzzis, spa treatments and celebrities going cold turkey – plus it’s about time she had a holiday. Saying goodbye to fun and freedom will be hard – and losing the man who might just be the love of her life will be even harder. But will hitting rock bottom help Rachel learn to love herself, at last?
I remember reading this book on a girls holiday whilst lying on a beach in Santa Ponsa and trying to stop my pasty Irish skin from burning. I remember vividly on that holiday grabbing every spare minute that I could find to keep reading as I connected with Rachel on so many levels at that time. In an unhappy relationship, envying the singletons around me and wondering where I was going with my life. It was a complex time.
The story is seen solely through the rose tainted glasses of Rachel, who’s refusing to believe that she has a drug addiction as well as tried to take her own life. After being taken away from the bright lights of New York to the lino lined floor of the Cloisters, she’s hoping to run into celebrities to make her stay more adventurous but instead she’s having to face up to her ghosts and take a long hard look at herself.
Rachel is the woman that all women can identity with, insecure, unhappy, depressed, low self esteem. Her troubles are as long as a Tesco club card receipt, yet we all get her and think of her an inspiration, a shining light of courage and bravery.
This book is a witty and warm hearted tale about substance abuse, addiction and depression and Marian has handled these tough issues with such wit and charm that has made her one of the world’s most favourite authors. Her books have gone on to have inspired countless authors including an aspiring author, like myself. And it’s wonderful to hear that we will be meeting Rachel in 2022 with Marian’s new book called ‘Again Rachel’.
The story is written in the past and present tense, leading up to the fateful night of overdose and right from the start, this book is a hard hitting read, As Rachel adapts to her new life with like-minded people, who she refuses to believe that she has anything in common with. They have to face daily meetings with counsellors, her inmates as well as their significant others as they try to realise the damage that they are doing to themselves and others.
To the outside world, Rachel is the life and soul of the party and it really does make for sobering reading as it finally dawns on Rachel, the consequences of her behaviour and the effect it has on others and this is genuinely heartbreaking reading.
In true Marian style, no book is complete without the drama of the Walsh family, their competitive and bitchy nature but fiercely loyal behaviour made for warm reading. Whilst the inmates at the Cloisters, were a huge variety of personalities that riled and connected with each other, are always there with a shoulder or a bar of chocolate for support.
It’s hard to put together a review of this book, as no amount of wordage can really sing the praise of how brilliant ‘Rachel’s Holidays’ is. It’s coming of age, it’s witty, it’s bleak, it’s inspirational and at the heart of it all, it’s a love story – about a woman falling back in love with herself.
A book that I could easily read over and over again and still snort and cry at, happy anniversary to ‘Rachel’s Holidays’, a triumph of a story that’s written with such humour and charm but tackles substance and addiction abuse with skill.
You can buy ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.