Again, Rachel By Marian Keyes
‘Again, Rachel’ is the sequel to the bestselling book, ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ by Marian Keyes.
Back in the long ago nineties, Rachel Walsh was a mess. But a spell in rehab transformed everything. Life became very good, very quickly. These days, Rachel has love, family, a great job as an addiction counsellor, she even gardens. Her only bad habit is a fondness for expensive trainers. But with the sudden reappearance of a man she’d once loved, her life wobbles. She’d thought she was settled. Fixed forever. Is she about to discover that no matter what our age, everything can change? Is it time to think again, Rachel?
When I was sent a copy of ‘Again, Rachel’, I was estactic, Marian Keyes has is one of my favourite authors and her book ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ was a book that really struck a chord with me. It’s been 25 years since that book was first released and I remember reading it on a beach in Santa Ponsa at a complete crossroads in my life. I connected with Rachel, her troubles were relatable, her energy was addictive and her family and friends made me laugh as we joined her on a hard journey of exploration.
I tried, oh I really tried to ration this book, but it was impossible. I took myself away to an empty room to give Rachel my full attention and the respect she deserved. I was determined to read it at a leisurely pace so I could delay the end that I so badly didn’t want to come but in the end I devoured it, because Rachel’s return was just exquisite.
It’s years later and Rachel has moved on with life, she’s clean and is Head Counsellor at the Cloisters and she’s using the skills that she learnt to help those battle addiction and come out the other side. She has new addictions, a love of trainers, one pair is never enough, her garden and watching a preloved Chanel bag on Luxury Exchange plus an adorable Corgi/Retriever cross called Crunchie. Mammy Walsh is organising the mother of all 80th birthdays and wants it to be the envy of all her family. Life is good for Rachel, until a phone-call turns her world upside down.
The story is written in the past and present tense. The inbetween time between ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ and ‘Again, Rachel’ and I’ll be honest, it’s hard reading. Rachel has far from had an easy life and during the interim years, she’s had to face even more hardships but this has shaped Rachel into the magnificent woman that we have grown to love even more.
It’s lovely to see the return of the Walsh family, with their unique interactions and relationships that makes for tender and funny reading as they all look out for each other in their own ways. I absolutely loved the scenes when the Walsh women gathered to discuss plans for Mammy Walsh’s birthday and poor Daddy Walsh was left to himself. Claire and Helen were still the harder ladies of the family, whilst Margaret and Anna were the softer souls.
It’s fascinating to read Rachel as now a counsellor in the place that she hated, now feared like she once feared Sister Josephine, she’s observant and in-tuned to recognise the cause of the addiction. Like ‘Rachel’s Holiday’, Marian has used a lot of dark humour to mask the pain that the residents of the Cloisters are going through. The meetings make for entertaining reading as they deny their issues and try to make light of the situations but they also make for such sad reading when revelations are exposed.
There are so many fantastic characters or duckling as Rachel calls them. I loved Chalkie, a young man with a heroin addiction and Dennis, an alcoholic farmer, whilst Trassa, an elderly woman with a gambling addiction that has left her whole family in disarray, their stories are hard hitting and remorseful as they realise the impact of their actions.
I could say so many things about this book, but I fear that I could easily give something away, all I know is that I loved it and every single fan of Marian’s will too. It’s a beautifully written story of love, family and overcoming loss and it genuinely broke my heart when I reached the final page. The story is poignant, it’s funny and charming but most of all it’s real, it doesn’t gloss over life or show it through rose-tainted glasses, Marian laids it out bare that sometimes life doesn’t work out how you want it and you can either give up or get up and become stronger.
‘Again, Rachel’ is the sequel that we longed for but never knew if we’d get it and Marian has delivered a stunner of a story plus so much more. A story of nostalgia, recovery and love, ‘Again, Rachel’ is a fantastic return to Rachel and the Walsh family. A story that will stay with you long after the final page, ‘Again, Rachel’ was like a long awaited catch up with an old friend, where you laugh, you cry and put the world to rights and know when you part ways, you’ll always hope they’re well.
You can pre-order ‘Again, Rachel’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops from 17th February 2022.