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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 Holiday’ 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 Holiday’, 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.

Grown Ups By Marian Keyes

Grown Ups ‘Grown Ups’ is the latest book by Marian Keyes.

They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys. Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together – birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie – who has the most money – insists on it. Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much. Everything stays under control until Ed’s wife Cara, gets concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets. In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s time – finally – to grow up?

One night I sat up into the early morning gripped by the latest offering by Marian. Thankfully, it was during the Christmas holidays so it gave me time to catch up on my sleep as well as reflect on my thoughts on the book.

When Marian releases a new book, there is always such excitement over it, the hype, the drama, will it be as good as the others, will it make me laugh, will it make me cry, will I relate to it? And I can wholeheartedly say yes to all the above, because ‘Grown Ups’ is about life, the ups, the downs, the filters and the truths.

To the outside world, it appears that the Casey family, have it all. The marriages, the jobs, the children and the money to enjoy beyond their means but behind closed doors, things are different. Infidelity, lies, eating disorders, Marian has packed everything into her latest book.

The story is seen through the multiple narratives of the characters of the family and each member of the family are tackling their own personal demons, mental health, eating disorders, financials health as well as infidelity.

The book is packed with a range of vibrant characters and personalities that literally explode from the pages, family gatherings with the Casey family is not for the faint hearted and are usefully packed with plenty of drama and laughter, particularly after getting concussion Cara begins to tell the truth about everyone.

I genuinely loved this book and it’s saddened me that it has taken me until now to finally review it.

‘Grown Ups’ is one of my favourite books from 2020 and is definitely up there as one of my favourite books from Marian Keyes. She explores humans and relationships with such insight, peeling back layers and revealing hidden flaws that make us humans. A story that highlights the pressures of society, relationships and mental health, with wit, charm and honesty, ‘Grown Ups’ is a cleverly crafted and relatable book that tackles the big stuff with sensitivity and snort out loud moments and is totally absorbing.

You can buy ‘Grown Ups’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.