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Thursday, 8 January 2015

Marian Keyes - This Charming Man

review written and read live on bookshow on 8th Jan 2015 by Ro Bennett

'Everybody remembers where they were the day they heard that Paddy de Courcy was getting married'

But for four women in particular, the big news about the charismatic politician is especially momentous . . .

Stylist Lola has every reason to be interested in who Paddy's marrying - because she's his girlfriend, yet she definitely isn't the bride-to-be . . . Journalist Grace wants the inside story on the de Courcy engagement and thinks Lola holds the key . . . while Grace's sister, Marnie, still can't forget her first love: a certain Paddy de Courcy. And what of the soon-to-be Mrs de Courcy? Alicia will do anything for her fiancé and is determined to be the perfect wife. But does she know the real Paddy?

Four very different women.
One awfully charming man.

This is a very long book - almost 900 pages. It fluctuates between the four women and their interwoven stories and relationships with Paddy de Courcy. Gradually the reader gets drawn into the intrigue surrounding the enigma who is Paddy de Courcy - a wealthy, charismatic, ambitious politician, and gets to know the character of each woman and the role they played in his life. 

The first chapter starts with Lola, a young fashion stylist and I did find that her initially prolonged agonising over her situation got rather tedious to the extent that I nearly stopped reading the book. I’m glad I didn’t as I grew quite fond of her as the story progressed and enjoyed reading about her escapades as she gradually came to terms with her situation and made another life for herself. 

I also liked and admired the sassy journalist Grace, although when it came to the chapters about her sister Marnie, a self-obsessed alcoholic, I found myself skimming chunks where she was wallowing in self pity for pages on end. I can’t be doing with people who are immersed in a victim mentality - I find it tedious in the extreme and reading about it was equally intensely irritating. In fact the author could have reduced the size of the book with no adverse effects by cutting out half of the brooding, fretting and whingeing passages.   

Despite this, I found the rest of it a very absorbing book with unexpected surprises and shocks, suspense, twists and turns and interesting sub plots.  Many of the peripheral characters were entertaining and there was humour to balance the dark elements and angst.  

Sandwiched in between each chapter was a paragraph describing a nasty incident of domestic violence. Gradually the reason for this is revealed. It’s very clever and the reader is taken on an emotional roller- coaster.  I’m glad I stuck with it - but I must say that I got so involved  with the storyline that I actually had a nightmare about it...evidence I suppose of a convincing bit of writing!

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