Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: The Woman Who Stole My Life

Summary: In her own words, Stella Sweeney is just “an ordinary woman living an ordinary life with her husband and two teenage kids,” working for her sister in their neighborhood beauty salon. Until one day she is struck by a serious illness, landing her in the hospital for months.

After recovering, Stella finds out that her neurologist, Dr. Mannix Taylor, has compiled and self-published a memoir about her illness. Her discovery comes when she spots a photo of the finished copy in an American tabloid—and it’s in the hands of the vice president’s wife! As her relationship with Dr. Taylor gets more complicated, Stella struggles to figure out who she was before her illness, who she is now, and who she wants to be while relocating to New York City to pursue a career as a newly minted self-help memoirist.

Funny, fast-paced, and honest, Keyes’s latest novel is full of her trademark charm and wisdom and is sure to delight her many fans. -- Viking

Some of my fondest (and funniest) memories of books include those written by Marian Keyes. I remember reading her novels years ago, when my daughter was a toddler; and I immediately became a huge fan. I loved the realness of her characters as well as her storytelling ability, and it didn't hurt that her books were often times laugh out loud funny.

Her latest novel is titled THE WOMAN WHO STOLE MY LIFE, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This book tells the story of Stella Sweeney, a beautician who has a husband and two kids. Her life is pretty normal until she is stricken with a horrific illness that basically takes away her ability to speak and move. She ends up in the hospital for months; and needless to say, her family struggles to deal with all of the changes that come with her illness.

While recovering in the hospital, a certain handsome doctor, Dr. Mannix Taylor, takes a special intent in Stella and her illness. He spends a great deal of time "talking" (communicating is probably the better word) with her and after she recovers, he publishes a book with her words of wisdom. When the vice-president's wife is spotted reading the book, Stella's life is never the same. She becomes an instant celebrity and her relationship with her family and Dr. Taylor take some drastic twists.

Stella moves to New York City to promote her book... and work on the next one while also embarking on a new relationship with Dr. Taylor. As Stella's life begins to fall apart, she must examine her own life and decide what it is that will make her and her family happy.

As I mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed THE WOMAN WHO STOLE MY LIFE. This novel was trademark Marian Keyes. It had an intriguing character in Stella, and the story of her illness and recovering was fascinating. However, it was the way Ms. Keyes wrote about the relationships in Stella's wife that made this book so special to me. I loved her interactions with her husband, Dr. Taylor, her kids and even her sister and parents.

I appreciated how well Ms. Keyes developed Stella's character and I loved that the book was written through her eyes. She managed to capture Stella's voice perfectly, and I thought she did an especially good job of conveying her fears while suffering from the illness. In addition, I found Ms. Keyes' portrayal of depression to feel authentic. I honestly have never experienced sadness to the depth that Stella did, but it sure seemed real to me.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how funny this book was. Of course, Stella and her illness weren't the least bit funny. In fact, I thought these parts of the book were terrifying. But Ms. Keyes managed to incorporate so much humor into Stella's story. A great many of the funny parts shone through in Stella's voice, but there were also some downright funny scenes.

And finally, I really enjoyed the messages from this novel. I don't want to sound sappy or preachy, but there were parts of this book that really resonated with me. I find that I take so much for granted; and unfortunately, it would probably take an illness or something worse for me let go of the small stuff. I loved how Stella experienced so much in this novel -- both good and bad -- and how it made her a better person.

THE WOMAN WHO STOLE MY LIFE would make an excellent book club selection. There is a reading guide with eleven questions that will certainly stimulate discussion. Personally, I'd enjoy discussing Stella and the various relationships in her life. She is a complex character, both very real and very flawed; and I think it would be great to hear other moms analyze her. Some of the other themes you might want to explore include illness, divorce, fame, parent/child relationships, new beginnings, and karma.

I highly recommend THE WOMAN WHO STOLE MY LIFE to fans of Marian Keyes as well as anyone who enjoys thought-provoking women's fiction.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I can't believe I've never read this author. I love books like this and hope to get to this one soon.