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Rachel’s Holiday By Marian Keyes

Rachel’s HolidayIt’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.

Our Tiny Useless Hearts By Toni Jordan

Our Tiny Useless Hearts‘Our Tiny Useless Hearts’ is the latest book by Toni Jordan.

Henry has ended his marriage to Caroline and run off with his daughter’s teacher, Martha. Caroline, having shredded a wardrobe-full of Henry’s suits, has gone after them.Craig and Lesley have dropped over from next door to catch up on the fallout from Henry and Caroline’s all-night row.And Janice, Caroline’s sister, is staying for the weekend to look after the children because Janice is the sensible one. Then Craig enters through the bedroom window expecting a tryst with Caroline and finds Janice instead, Lesley storms in full of threats, Henry, Caroline and Martha arrive back from the airport in separate taxis – and let’s not even get started on Brendan the pizza guy.Janice can cope with all that. But when her ex-husband Alec knocks on the door things suddenly get complicated…

What can I say about this book? Only that the author has managed to write a story with so many unlikable characters that I regularly found myself tutting in disgust at their antics and unable to put the vibrant book down.

The story is seen solely through the eyes of Janice, who happens to arrive at her sister’s Caroline’s house just as her husband comes clear about having an affair with his daughters teacher. He runs off with his mistress only for Caroline to chase after him leaving Janice to look after her nieces. Meanwhile Caroline’s neighbours, Craig and Lesley are very quick to offer their advice on their perfect marriage.

As Janice looks after her nieces, the bossy and inquisitive Mercedes and her younger sister, Paris who hasn’t spoken since her father’s departure, she begins to reflect on her own life and question the decisions she made, particularly the one where she divorced the man she still loves.

This story has the most eclectic range of characters, all with huge, overbearing and self absorbed personalities, Janice was the only the person who had a sense of empathy towards the pain that her nieces were feeling and is a kind and gentle soul in the sea of egos and pain. As a scientist, Janice is a thinker and logical always there to offer a solution when problems arose. She’s a quiet person, who puts others before her and this is reflected in how her life has turned out.

A soul searching tale of love and sisterhood, ‘Our Tiny Useless Hearts’ is a poignant and witty story about the complexities of life, the struggles that we encounter along the way and how what happens in our childhoods moulds into the person we become in life. Witty and observant of life’s relationships, this book was riddled with drama and shocking characters and was a delight from start to finish.

You can buy Our Tiny, Useless Hearts from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.