‘The Woman Who Stole My Life’ by Marian Keyes Book Review

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To start with, can I just say that I love Marian Keyes? Her books are that rare combination of touching and funny; serious and comical. ‘Anybody Out There?’ Is one of my favourite books of all time.

‘The Woman who Stole my Life’ is the story of Stella Sweeney; Stella is the wrong side of forty, recently divorced and hated by her teenage children; Stella has moved back to Ireland from New York after her brief career as a novelist ended in disaster.

Stella’s ex-husband Ryan is a failed-artist-turned-bathroom-designer, and cannot stand the fact that his ex-wife became famous in a creative field (he refers to her as the woman who stole his life), and comes up with Project Karma; Ryan plans to give away all his belongings – his house, car, clothes, and business – and blog about the experience. Stella and her son Jeffrey try to convince Ryan that this is a terrible idea, but he is convinced that because he is doing a good deed it will all turn out alright, the universe will provide for him (and he will become famous in the process).

I laughed so much reading this book (the loud, uncontrollable, snorting kind of laughter – attractive I know). As expected in a Marian Keyes novel, the book balances out the comedy with quite serious, thought-provoking content. The secondary characters in this book are often comical, but three dimensional, they could be people from your own lives. My favourite character is Jeffrey, who is rebelling in his own way by practising yoga and enforcing his unique culinary experiments onto his poor mother (she is convinced that he is trying to poison her); Phyllis Stella’s New Yorker book agent runs a close second, she is just such an awful person you can’t help laughing at her as if she was a pantomime villain.

What I disliked about the novel is nothing to do with the story itself; I buy quite a few Kindle books, and I am getting increasingly frustrated with the way that these are published. There was no spacing between paragraphs and the text wasn’t justified. There were gaps between different sections of the novel though, so this was a slight improvement on previous kindle books; I do think that Amazon/ the publishers need to put more care and thought into the formatting of Kindle books, because let’s face it they cost the same, and sometimes more than hardback and paperback books.

Page 1 of 'The Woman who Stole my Life' kindle book
Page 1 of ‘The Woman who Stole my Life’ kindle book

Bafflingly the teenagers in the book called their mother “mom” in the present day and in flashback sections, despite being raised in Ireland and only living in New York for just over a year; I don’t know if this was the same in the hardback copy of the book, or if the publishers just decided to use the American copy for the kindle format, rather than having separate UK and US versions, but in all other Marian Keyes novels the characters refer to their mothers as “mammy”, mam” or “mum”.  This is a small issue but it really annoyed me, it just seemed completely out of context.

Other than that little gripe this was a really enjoyable novel, and would make an excellent Christmas gift.

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