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The Woman Who Stole My Life - August book club

(75 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 04-Aug-15 14:54:35

Copies have been sent out so should have arrived/be arriving shortly. Find out more about Marian Keyes' latest bestseller HERE and if you've received a copy (or if you've read it anyway) do add questions and comments for Marian on this thread.

If you'd like to purchase a copy, you can go here.

ecci53 Wed 26-Aug-15 11:57:01

I enjoyed this book, particularly the hospital sections. However, like other reviewers, I felt that it was too wordy in places, such as the American sections. I also found some of the characters very annoying, such as the husband. Overall, I'd say its a good read.

Misha14 Wed 26-Aug-15 12:06:14

I so agree with Emily Harburn. I too felt that there was more than one story/book in here. In fact I think that if Marion Keyes had written about Stella's experiences in ICU, which I found very interesting, as a separate novel and the US section as another then both would be greatly improved.
I enjoyed the humour at first, but as in other of the author's books, I found its relentless presence grated. There are serious themes in this novel which are not explored and in some cases feel trivialized.

NanSue Wed 26-Aug-15 15:25:04

I finished this book yesterday and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt the eccentric characters were interesting if not always believable (which for me really didn't matter). As someone said earlier I love the Irishness of Marian Keyes. I think it has a different style than her earlier books in that, it was a tad more serious and with not so many laugh out loud moments but then I suppose a writer's style will change with maturity. I'm most definitely still a fan.

gillogg Fri 28-Aug-15 13:49:38

I really enjoyed this book from start to finish.I haven't read any of Marian's books before and therefore had no expectations.I thought the characters were well drawn and I felt empathy for Stella and Mannix.I also loved the humerous descriptions that crept in now and then.
I have to agree that the story-line did jump between present and past.The change of print style helped,a bit, to avoid confusion for me.Stellas life was chaotic and rushed in America and I think that came over very well. I really wanted to punch Gilda on the nose for her two faced stealing of Stella's life.
Not my usual genre of book but thank you Gransnet for introducing me to yet another different author

Envious Fri 28-Aug-15 14:30:51

Thank you for my book! I was very surprised and happy to receive it. I figured being across the pound I might not get one. I've never read this authors books and was drawn in from the first page. I will definitely read more of her books.

Maggiemaybe Sat 29-Aug-15 09:01:09

Thank you, Gransnet, for this book, which I have found an easy and enjoyable read. I've never read any Marion Keyes before. I liked her characterisation and humour, and for me the switching between places and dates worked well and kept the interest. This was a book of rather predictable but enjoyable contrasts, from the impossibly useless husband, Ryan, to the improbably perfect replacement, Mannix, the unbearably needy friend, Zoe, to the faultless new BF, golden girl Georgie, the brittle sibling, Karen, to the big soft brother, Roland, the warm, homespun Irish background to the dog eat dog glitz of the New York publishing world.

GNers have said that this book, with its theme of debilitating illness, is more serious than previous Marion Keyes novels. From the sample given of (I assume) the next book, it looks as though illness/injury - and being stuck in one place because of it - is again a major theme. I'd like to ask the author if there is a particular reason for this?

henbane Sat 29-Aug-15 22:22:13

Technically I suppose Marion Keyes' books are chick lit, but they are nothing like the old bodice rippers our mothers may have read. These are superior chick lit. They are generally very well-written and constructed, with a certain darkness undercutting the sweetness and the happy ending. I am a fan.

Having said that, this isn't one of her best - I agree with previous comments about unnecessary complexities in the plotting and the rather perfunctory resolution. However, it was still an enjoyable holiday read - in fact it was difficult to put it down as I really wanted to know how things worked out. It's a strange thing that unpleasant characters are always more involving than nice ones & there are some interesting ones here - I was thoroughly irritated by Ryan and appalled by Gilda (spoiler alert, but I guess everyone will have read the book by now). I really liked Roland though!

I was particularly interested in the details of Guillain-Barré syndrome because a chap I used to work with years ago developed something like this, although I can't remember now if it was actually the same disease or something else with similar symptoms. I googled today to try and find out more about it and discovered details of a recent case only a few days ago.

floorflock Sun 30-Aug-15 10:32:50

I have read my copy and thought it to be an excellent read. I have not read anything by Marion before so this was a first for me and I can't believe that I haven't found out about her prior to this, I clearly have some catching up to do! The story is primarily about Stella & Ryan and their extended family and all the characters were believeable. Mannix was a joy when he entered the story and remained so throughout. I was so sad when Stella and Mannix seemed to have a parting of the ways but relieved when it all came good at the end - Shep included. One blink at a time was remarkable and aptly described the situation Stella found herself in. Can you imagine the horror of finding yourself like that!? Absolutely awful.. I would definitely recommend this book it really is very good.

middleagespread Sun 30-Aug-15 16:03:12

I found it hard to engage with the characters. Stella, who I appreciate, at the beginning, is locked inside a void - a dark place indeed, but her long thoughts and discussions within her mind were relentless and repetitive. I did not like or engage with the doctors and her ex Ryan was again unmemorable. The story was somewhat repetitive and certainly the constant break up fragmented first chapters made re reading some part inevitable. The repetitions of,for example lady chino's dominated my reading in the end and I found myself grating my teeth. I have read Marian Keys before and found her to be fun, entertaining - but not this one sadly. I did finish it, but did not end the book with a satisfied sigh, but more of a phew.

Buddie Mon 31-Aug-15 10:03:44

After reading almost the first hundred pages at a sitting I got well into the story before life intervened and I have only been able to snatch odd moments to complete my reading of this novel. Maybe this is why I didn't feel the intial pace was sustained. However, I have enjoyed this, my first expereince of reading a novel by the author, and one of the things that helped my enjoyment was the use of different fonts to indicate flashes back within the story. Often a story that is not told chronologically can prove difficult to follow and I would like to know if this was a device chosen by Marion herself or her publisher.

I should also be interested to know if the book was written in the sequence in which it appears or whether the story of the illness was written first and then the rest of the story woven around it afterwards.

Finally, this is such a rare disease, did Marion have prior knowledge of it before she wrote the book or did she seek out such a problem to flesh out a gleam of an idea?

Anne58 Mon 31-Aug-15 17:53:51

I have just finished this book and enjoyed it. It was a bit lighter than some of my other recent reads, and yes, a lot of the plot lines came as no surprise, but it was well written and engaging.

I didn't have a problem with the time changes, and found the way that the font changed between these passages was a good indication as to what was happening.

Thank you again for my copy.

shysal Thu 03-Sep-15 15:54:33

I agree with Phoenix that the font change was helpful. I often enjoy reading books by Irish authors, and this was no exception.
I would like to ask Marian whether there is a camaraderie or is it rivalry between the Irish writers?

beeglie Mon 07-Sep-15 11:36:21

Am I too late? In case I'm not I would like to say to Marian that I have loved every single one of her books. I love the tone of her writing. I would like to ask her how she has coped with her depression - I really admire the way that you have been so open about it and I have learned from this myself. Also has what you have been through changed the way you write or what you write about? And if I can throw in one more (told you I was a fan)n because your humour is so legendary did that place even more pressure on you to be the funny person people think of you as when in fact you were going through the hell of depression which is anything but amusing? Thank you so much and already looking forward to the next one.

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 07-Sep-15 11:37:11

Nick of time - just to say questions going off now

MarianKeyes Fri 11-Sep-15 13:58:44

kittykat02

I'm just wondering has it ever happened that you have written a story and then had a member of the public thought it was based on them. I always wonder about that when I see in books at the start where it says the book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to a person is a coincidence. The books are always so believable you feel they are your friends/family.

Thanks very much ?? As far as I know, a member of the public whom I haven't met hasn't thought one of my characters was based on them. But! Sometimes friends insist that they recognise people we know in common, in my books. Or sometimes they think I've based a character on themselves. However, I'd never (knowingly) do that. I think it would be a terrible abuse of power. Nevertheless, I'm taking inspiration from the world around me all the time ?? sometimes a phrase a person says will appeal to me and I'll have one of my characters saying it but it never means that the character in the book is actually based on the real person, just that I've taken one tiny trait of theirs.

MarianKeyes Fri 11-Sep-15 13:59:36

rocketstop

Hi Marian,
I really enjoyed the book.I can't give too much away here as some people may not have read it yet and have still to comment.
It's always great to get another book from you.
It was quite brave to portray someone trapped by a medical condition and I thought you did it well.
I also had to laugh as you describe shoes in the book and I'm guessing you still love them as much as you used to ?!!
Also I wanted to ask..Are you still a looper magnet ? I know I am!!

I love the bit in the story where Stella, Mannix and Roland are tasting wines and they come up with ever more stupid descriptions, trying to outdo each other with ever more outlandish suggestions, it reminded me of me and my sister messing about !

I see your next book has links to New York, have you spent time there recently? Just wondered whast your inspiration was for partly setting the stories there ?
Thanks again for a great read, and I hope you're happy and well.

My sister lives there and I've spent a fair amount of time there and am very fond of it. I think that must be why I'm so comfortable setting some of my books there. Also London features a lot in my books for the same reason.

MarianKeyes Fri 11-Sep-15 14:01:12

dartmoordogsbody

...Another reader has commented that she wondered whether Marian is pressured by her publisher to write a new book every year. I see that her regular readers say this book is slightly different from earlier ones, and I would really love to know if Marian would like to change the kind of book she writes but the pressures of previous success stop her?

Any Gransnetters thinking of writing their own bestseller will think twice after reading about the publishing industry in this story!

Thanks for the book.

Not at all. I always write exactly the book that I want to write. There's no way that I could write something that I wasn't proud of I'd never write something for a perceived market-place. My attitude is that if I write something from the heart, it'll probably strike a chord and if it doesn't at least I have the consolation of knowing that I was true to myself.

MarianKeyes Fri 11-Sep-15 14:03:53

Buddie

...I should also be interested to know if the book was written in the sequence in which it appears or whether the story of the illness was written first and then the rest of the story woven around it afterwards.

Finally, this is such a rare disease, did Marion have prior knowledge of it before she wrote the book or did she seek out such a problem to flesh out a gleam of an idea?

It's a hard question to answer. It was written in various ways. I'd do a bit of her illness, then a bit of her current life, then a bit of the future. Sometimes I'd do big-ish blocks, then split them up, move them around, maybe rejoin some pieces and I kept fiddling with placement until I felt I had the balance right. I felt there couldn't be too much about Stella's illness in any one section because it would become too oppressive for the reader. I often work with multiple time-lines and balancing the different parts is always a challenge and it's always great when I think, right, that's the way it should be.

Yes, it’s a very rare disease, but about 12 years ago, 2 people I knew contracted it over the same weekend, and one of the people lived in Dublin and the other in Chicago. I'd known nothing about it until then and I remember being struck by what a horrible condition it is but that at least it's fully recoverable from. Clearly it had stuck in my head in some faraway dusty room and when I realised that Stella becomes ill, it presented itself as a possibility. I managed to find several autobiographical books on the subject, which gave me a huge amount of information of how it feels to live with this illness.

MarianKeyes Fri 11-Sep-15 14:08:19

beeglie

Am I too late? In case I'm not I would like to say to Marian that I have loved every single one of her books. I love the tone of her writing. I would like to ask her how she has coped with her depression - I really admire the way that you have been so open about it and I have learned from this myself. Also has what you have been through changed the way you write or what you write about? And if I can throw in one more (told you I was a fan)n because your humour is so legendary did that place even more pressure on you to be the funny person people think of you as when in fact you were going through the hell of depression which is anything but amusing? Thank you so much and already looking forward to the next one.

Thank you and I really hope you're doing well yourself. I think going through anything traumatic changes a person and certainly my writing changed. I wrote The Mystery of Mercy Close which is all about living with depression. But in more recent times, as I feel better, the last thing I want to do is revisit the darkness, so I made a decision when I wrote The Woman Who Stole My Life that it was going to be an upbeat book, with no darkness whatsoever. I just wanted to stand in the sun for a while, you know?

As for feeling the pressure to be the funny person? Yes, I did, and I had to stop all telly and radio stuff while I wasn't well. But mercifully I feel so much better these days and in many ways back to the person I was. Thanks very much smile

Lottie2tiger Tue 15-Sep-15 10:56:00

I really enjoyed this book and found it to be stronger than a lot of her other books. I like her as an author but tend to view her books as beach reads. This I found more engaging and even brought a tear to my eye in places.
Why does the main male character always have to have a weird name though!! why cant ij just be Brian.
I like the way this went from dark to light and in true chick lit style there was a happy ending. It covered a lot of issues in a short book from illness to divorce to moving abroad but did them lightly with humour.
an enjoyable read.

Venus Sat 03-Oct-15 09:58:27

I can't put down this book. It's very funny and sad at the same time. The characters are totally believeable, and the way the story is structure makes the reader want to know what happens next.

Has Marion first hand knowledge of the illness that the main character finds herself in?

I can't wait to read her next book!

Greendorrie Sat 03-Oct-15 13:33:01

I finished reading the book while away on holiday. I liked the way the story jumped around in time. I couldn't work out where the story was going to end. I have bought another of her books and will read it later, I like to read books by different authors.

mahima123 Tue 06-Oct-15 07:58:12

Message deleted by Gransnet for breaking our forum guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

shysal Tue 06-Oct-15 08:58:14

Reported.