The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes
From the author’s website: One day, sitting in traffic, married Dublin mum Stella Sweeney attempts a good deed. The resulting car crash changes her life.
For she meets a man who wants her telephone number (for the insurance, it turns out). That’s okay. She doesn’t really like him much anyway (his Range Rover totally banjaxed her car).
But in this meeting is born the seed of something which will take Stella thousands of miles from her old life, turning an ordinary woman into a superstar, and, along the way, wrenching her whole family apart.
Is this all because of one ill-advised act of goodwill? Was meeting Mr Range Rover destiny or karma? Should she be grateful or hopping mad?
For the first time real, honest-to-goodness happiness is just within her reach. But is Stella Sweeney, Dublin housewife, ready to grasp it?
The Woman Who Stole My Life reminded me why so much of my shelf space is filled with her books. I first stumbled upon Marian Keyes over 7 years ago and was immediately smitten with her style of story telling, how she mixes humour and tough subjects. In the ensuing years I’ve read everything she’s published (with the exception of her non-fiction – I need to leave something too look forward to!), but it had been a while since I’d last read something by here. Of course when I found out that she had a new book out, I knew I needed to give it a shot.
Let me start by saying that the synopsis doesn’t quite explain what the book is about. Yet, I don’t really want to expand on it, for fear of giving anything away. So, if the synopsis doesn’t hook you, never fear, that’s not really what it’s about. But yet it yes. Ugh, I feel for synopsis writers.
Let’s go with this quote instead:
Once upon a time, something very bad happened to me. As a direct result of that very bad thing, something very, very good happened. I was a big believer in karma at that point. However, as a direct result of that very, very good thing, a very bad thing happened. Then another bad thing. I am currently due an upswing in my karma cycle, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Frankly, I’ve had it with karma. (p. 22)
The Woman Who Stole My Life opens with Stella, who has recently gone through some big shake ups and is trying to make sense of her life. She is wary, maybe a little bitter, but is very much trying to Get On With Life. Instead, she spends a lot of time on Twitter.
The story of the bad thing/good thing/bad thing/bad thing is told through flashbacks and present time, and I was completely hooked. I did, however, think that the first half of the book was a little tighter and the spools loosened a bit in the second half, but overall it might be one of my favourite Keyes.
SPOILERS START HERE
What I liked most about this book was its look at extended illnesses and peoples reactions to it. The rush of support and care at the first diagnosis which eventually turned to waning interested and even resentment. However, it drove me crazy that, even years later, Stella’s family blamed her for her illness and everything that she missed during her time in hospital. In reality, this could be very close to how some people deal with loved ones’ illnesses. I can imagine that the their feelings towards that loved one and that time could be complex and complicated. But, it made me so sad that Stella seemed to agree with them.
If you’ve read & enjoyed Marian Keyes in the past, definitely give this one a shot. If you haven’t, but enjoy a mix of funny, witty, and tragic, yes give this a shot.