Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Review: This Charming Man

Summary: With This Charming Man, Marian Keyes hits her stride as a novelist with her best novel yet, telling the stories of four women who are shaped by one man.

Paddy de Courcy is Ireland's debonair politician, the "John F. Kennedy Jr. of Dublin." His charm and charisma have taken hold of the country and the tabloids, not to mention our four heroines: Lola, Grace, Marnie, and Alicia. But though Paddy's winning smile is fooling Irish minds, the broken hearts he's left in his past offer a far more truthful look into his character.

Narrated in turn by each woman, This Charming Man explores how their love for this one man has shaped their lives. But in true Marian Keyes fashion, this is more than a story of four love affairs. It's a testament to the strength women find in themselves through work, friendship, and family, no matter what demons may be haunting their lives. Depression, self-doubt, domestic abuse—each of these women has seen tough times in life, and it's through Keyes's wonderful storytelling ability that these subjects are approached with the appropriate tone and candor. Her deft touch provides a gripping story and, ultimately, a redemptive ending. - Harper Collins

A huge thanks goes out to Tracy from Bookroomreviews' Weblog for sending me her copy of THIS CHARMING MAN by Marian Keyes. I am a huge fan of Marian Keyes (I think I've read everything she's ever written); and I heard that THIS CHARMING MAN might be her best book yet. I could barely wait to read this book when it came in the mail; but being the monogamist book reader that I am, I had to finish up what I was already reading!

I was certainly not disappointed by this book, and I think I might like it better than Ms. Keye's other novels (or at the very least better than her last few novels!) It was a big book (over 560 pages), but I read it in a little over a day because I just couldn't put it down. The book tells the story of four women and how their lives were affected by "the charming man", Paddy de Courcy.

I especially enjoyed how the story was told from the point of view of all four women -- they took turns narrating each section. I felt as if I were able to truly understand each woman and the control that Paddy had over them. All four women were dealing with issues as a result of their relationship with Paddy, yet they were each had their own distinct voice. I had absolutely no issues with keeping the characters straight as I sometimes do when there are numerous characters telling their stories. In addition, Ms. Keyes did a terrific job of making each woman real, and I couldn't help but feel some sympathy towards each of them (although, I did get frustrated with them at times, too.) One thing's for sure: I can't stop thinking about each one of these characters (and isn't that a sign of a great book?)

One of my favorite things about Ms. Keye's novels are that they deal with tragic situations, yet she is still able to provide some light moments. This book was no exception since it dealt with quite a few depressing issues such as alcoholism, depression, and mental and physical abuse. Somehow, she can still infuse humor into these stories!

I thoroughly appreciated Ms. Keye's handling of Marnie's alcholism. I found her descriptions of Marnie's alcoholism to be gut-wrenching and also very real. I can't remember the last time I read a book about an addiction where it was described with so much brutal honesty. My heart was just broken over Marnie's addiction and how it affected her family as well as herself. I definitely think these sections were some of Ms. Keye's best writing (ever.)

I think what I loved the most about the book was how it ended -- it was a bit of a surprise for me! I really enjoyed how each of these woman (who thought they were basically nothing because of their love affairs gone bad) ended up finding their inner strength and resilience. I found this book to really be a testament to the power of women, especially when women are able to join forces together. For a novel that did deal with so much trajedy, I really felt uplifted after reading it.

I highly recommend THIS CHARMING MAN for your next book club! It is highly readable and entertaining, plus there is a great deal to talk about. There are discussion questions already available here -- I thought they covered a lot of issues and would be very interesting to further examine.

I do admit that I am a sucker for any and all Marian Keyes books, but I did really enjoy this one. If you're not familiar with any of her books or short stories, I recommend giving her a chance! She's a great writer who's deals with tough times in her books, but always provides lot of humor and honesty! And, her characters are just so memorable!


Cheryl said...

Ok adding a new author to my list to check out

Anonymous said...

I haven't read anything by Marien Keys. I'll have to check her out. Maybe I'll start with this one!

S. Krishna said...

First of all, great review! Did you like Anybody Out There? You mentioned you hadn't enjoyed her last few as much...

Second, I nominated you for a blog award! Details: http://skrishnasbooks.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-have-been-nominated.html

Jill said...

Thanks for this review...I haven't loved her past couple, but I really enjoyed her earlier ones. I have been on the fence about this one, but I'm going to check it out now!

Anonymous said...

Great Review! and thanks for the shout out:) Tracy

Anonymous said...

This book has been sitting on my to-read stack for a while. You've just convinced me to make room for it in my book tote that I'm taking to the beach next week. Thanks for the review.

Darlene said...

Great review! I love Marian Keyes and have this on my to buy list. I can't wait to read it especially after this glowing review. Thanks.

Marg said...

I too am a huge Keyes fan and have read just about everything she has written.

I found this one a little difficult to get into because I didn't really like Lola's voice, but I eventually got used to it.

Anna said...

I've never read anything by Keyes before, but after this review, I put this book on hold at the library. Thanks!

--Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)