*Just a gentle note, this review will contain spoilers you may want to avoid*
I’ve never read a Marian Keyes book before. But I’ve seen this book everywhere – it’s high in the book charts week after week and there’s a buzz about it on social media. I wanted to read something different from thrillers and intense books, so I picked this up and I adored this book. Cracked spine and everything! I really enjoyed this book. A lot. So, what’s it about? This is what the blurb says:
‘Myself and Hugh… We’re taking a break.’
‘A city-with-fancy-food sort of a break?’
Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her. He still loves her, he’s just taking a break – from their marriage, their children, their life. Six months in South East Asia, and nothing she says can stop him. But when does a break become a break-up?
For a lot can happen in six months. And it’s enough to send Amy and her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers teetering over the edge. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? Will Amy be the same woman?
Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then isn’t she?
There’s a lot to discuss about this book I don’t even know where to begin. This book is a hefty book – it’s over 600 pages but the chapters are so short that you just keep on reading, being swept away by Marian’s words. She has such a distinctive voice in her writing that’s full of her Irish wit and wisdom. It’s like having a conversation with a best friend.
When I first started this book, I thought there were too many characters that I would be confused and struggling to remember who they are. But just like any other book, once you get right in the middle of the story, they are as familiar to you as your own family. In the book, there’s a great ensemble of characters. I loved Amy and Hugh but I also really loved Amy’s mother and Alistair who I had a bit of a soft-spot for. The characters are real, well-rounded and distinctive.
One of my favourite parts of this book was the world of PR. I’ve just finished my Media (and English) degree in uni and I’ve done PR modules and this just fascinated me. I loved living in Amy’s world with her clients, in the office with her colleagues, in meetings, etc. I just found it completely fascinated and I wanted to read more. To me, with working Amy working in PR, this added more to the story too. With Amy and Hugh on a break, Amy and Hugh are discovering who they are, what their image is and that’s what Amy does for a job. She helps people with their image, how to be the best version of themselves and I think that’s a theme that runs throughout the novel.
There are lot’s that I enjoyed in this book. I really loved the family moving from traditional methods of life and adapting to the modern times. This can be seen with Amy’s daughter, Neeve being a YouTuber doing beauty videos. More and more recently, people are turning to YouTube, to the internet for their careers. Neeve’s videos are a great source of comedy in the novel with the help of Amy’s mother doing videos too that leads her into being high on fame – she even goes on This Morning with Phil and Holly! But Neeve’s videos aren’t just beauty, there’s a great story in the book about abortion in Ireland and I think it’s incredibly well-handed. Neeve uploads a video about going from Ireland to the UK for an abortion and asks important questions. Of course, this is incredibly timely with the referendum on abortion laws in the Republic of Ireland. Like I said, it’s incredibly well-handed and in a sensitive but important way.
Most of all, this is a book about family. I loved Amy’s mother and the relationship with Amy’s father, or ‘Pop’. I found this relationship incredibly moving as he has dementia; I just found it real that she wants to get out of the house and have a G&T. Amy has a big family and I’d love to know more about Declyn and his husband Hayden if there’s a follow up.
As I’ve said, Marian has a beautiful and distinctive writing voice. There’s a number of quotes that I just adored. Including this one:
Where does love go when it dies? Into flowers and other beautiful things? Back out into the universe to be recycled?
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and more than I thought I would! I was absorbed by the story and the wonderful ensemble of characters. I loved being part of Amy’s world in PR – it was an interesting aspect of the book that I just loved instantly. After reading this, it’s clear that Marian Keyes is a master in story-telling. She just grips you from the first page. But she writes brilliant and fantastic characters. They are real, authentic and flawed characters. She acts like a surgeon – opening her characters up and going inside them, wondering what makes them tick, what makes them who they are, examining the human condition. The human condition of love.
I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to see what Marian creates next. Have you read The Break? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!