“Amy’s husband Hugh has run away to ‘find himself’. But will he ever come back?
‘Myself and Hugh . . . We’re taking a break.’
‘A city-with-fancy-food sort of break?’
Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her.
He still loves her, he’s just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in South East Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.
Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . .
However, for Amy it’s enough to send her – along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers – teetering over the edge.
For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? Will Amy be the same woman?
Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then so is she . . .”
Today is paperback publication day for The Break so, Happy Paperback Publication Day, Marian! To celebrate the occasion, here is my review of Marian’s latest novel.
It’s fabaliss. The End.
What? You need more? What more is there to say? Ok, I will elaborate.
Firstly, the premise of this book is totally original. Man in mid-life crisis wants to take a break from his marriage and head-off to South-East Asia to live the bachelor life for six months, leaving his stunned wife with their three daughters, the house and all the bills to look after on her own and she lets him. So far, so unbelievable you might say, why would she do that but I promise you, thanks to various complications in his life and the dynamics of their relationship it makes perfect sense in the book. The rest of the story then centres on how Amy copes with his absence, how her feelings about him change over the course of the separation and whether they will be able to pick up the pieces of their marriage if and when he comes back.
The development of realistic and sympathetic characters is where Marian has always excelled and why we, her devoted readers, adore her books and this is no exception. Amy is a warm and likeable but flawed individual that you will take to immediately and you are drawn straight into her plight and are firmly on her side from the beginning. Her life is far from straightforward with a complicated past and three hormonal teenage girls to look after. Her daughters are very accurately drawn (with five of my own, I speak with some authority in this area) and they are her main concern. Marian explores the fears, concerns and angst of teenagers with candour and they face some current and heavy issues (I don’t want to give away any spoilers but Marian is not afraid to address very emotive topics head on, to her very great credit). I liked the way social media plays a huge part in the storyline of this book to reflect its importance in the current world, not just for the younger generation but in Amy and Hugh’s relationship too.
There are some wonderful peripheral characters in the novel. Amy’s mother steals the show and she was my favourite character in the book (am I the only one of Marian’s Twitter followers who feels like she might recognise elements of this person? Art imitating life?) Her depictions of a slightly chaotic, extended family with its own internal tensions and quirks but who all pull together in times of crisis will warm your cockles and make you vow to appreciate your own motley collection of kin a bit more.
The main question that the book asks is whether it is ever the fault of one person when a marriage is in crisis or whether we all need to look to our own behaviour and see if we had a part to play before we condemn the other person for their actions and consign our relationship to the bonfire as a result. None of us are perfect. Relationships, however outwardly steadfast they may seem, need constant work and attention and we are all subject to stresses and strains from external sources. Ultimately, we need to decide what is worth clinging too and what we are willing to risk or to lose. In the end, a big part of love is forgiveness and understanding.
The book made me think and it made me feel all the feels and it made me happy and sad and then happy again. I devoured it in two days over the Bank Holiday weekend and it was no chore. For me, this is Marian on top form and that it something it is difficult to beat.
The Break is out now and you can buy a copy here.
About the Author
Marian Keyes’ international bestselling novels include Rachel’s Holiday, Last Chance Saloon, Sushi for Beginners, Angels, The Other Side of the Story, Anybody Out There?, This Charming Man,The Brightest Star in the Sky, The Mystery of Mercy Close and The Woman Who Stole My Life. Two collections of her journalism, Under the Duvet and Further Under the Duvet, are also available from Penguin. Marian lives in Dublin with her husband.
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