Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Sometimes I still read chick-lit.

There are a few authors that have the power to pull me in and Marian Keyes is one of them. Which is why I begged the Harper Collins First Look site to send me a copy of her latest book , This Charming Man, which will be released in the US in June.

This Charming Man is the story of Paddy de Courcy, a handsome young Irish politician, and four women whose lives he has affected. The book deals with some serious issues, as Keyes' books often do, and Keyes injects some suspense as well by not always letting the reader know exactly what is happening or who it is happening to.

The story is told from the four women's points of view and this is where I had a little trouble with this book. One of the women is Lola and the first 75 pages of the book begins her story. It is written in diary form, in a sort of stream of consciousness way, not always using complete sentences or proper grammar. This made it difficult for me to become engaged in this book and I worried that if the entire book was written this way I wouldn't be able to finish it. Happily, the other character's parts were written more traditionally and I did become absorbed in this book and couldn't put it down for the second half. This book was in turns funny, sad, frightening, and loving. While it wasn't my favorite book by Keyes, if you can get past the first part I think it's an enjoyable read.

Update on EPL

My book club discussed Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love last Thursday. We had six members at our meeting for what was one of our more memorable discussions. One member didn't even finish the book - she said she wasn't interested in it and felt bored by it. Three members (myself included) felt that they enjoyed the writing and the author's sense of humor but had a lot of issues with the subject matter. Two members said they liked the book overall. Both of these women still had issues with the material, one being bothered by all the talk of the 'Brazilian lover' and wishing Gilbert had remained celibate. The other woman seemed to enjoy the book the most and I asked her a lot of questions about that. She said she didn't particularly like Gilbert or feel as though they would be friends - I've read a lot of these comments from people who have enjoyed the book. She said she could see that a lot of people in our society are looking to find happiness and while Gilbert's solution is rather extreme, that people could use this as the impetus to make changes in their own lives in order to find greater satisfaction. She thought that while some people might think helping others through volunteering could be beneficial she could see that helping yourself first might be necessary.

The best part of reading EPL for me has been discussing it both online and with my book club so for that reason I'm glad I read it and was able to participate in the discussion of this popular and polarizing book.


Iliana said...

Thank you for sharing the discussion points from your book group. I think I'll enjoy the book but I am not going in thinking it will "change" my life. Which is the vibe I've sort of gotten from hearing about the book.
I think it's sad that chick lit gets such a bad rap because I've read some entertaining books but sadly there really are a lot of stinkers in the genre. You just have to find the good ones.

Carrie K said...

I love Marian Keyes!

Wow, EPL sounds so...70's. I'll have to check it out.

But the Sally Gunning books sound wonderful. Thanks for the introduction and the review.

lazy cow said...

I ended up enjoying Lola most of all! She really blossomed in the book. Keyes always tackles tough issues so well. This Charming Man is one of my favourites, but I'm hanging out for her book on the last of the Walsh sisters. Helen is one-of-a-kind!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for passing along the update from your book group. I love reading about those and I have been trying to decide whether to present this book as a possibility for my group to read next spring. I'm still on the fence about it, but your analysis helps.

P.S. I still read some chick lit too. Jennifer Weiner has a new book out that is the sequel to GOOD IN BED.

Bybee said...

Even though This Charming Man is chick lit, I confess I'd give it a look because it's also the title of a Smiths song.

BooksPlease said...

I really like Marion Keyes and she is great when you see her on TV, simply lovely to listen to that Irish accent and so witty and funny - I'm a fan!

I've finished Eat, Pray, Love. I must get writing about it soon. I saw a video of her talking at Google authors - interesting.

LisaMM said...

My review of a Harper Collins First Look book (a different one) is due tomorrow, and I DID NOT LIKE IT at all. I'm wondering what to do about that! They emailed me to remind me it was due, and I replied back asking what they would suggest, since I didn't care for it. They didn't reply back, so.. ??

I loved reading about your book club's discussion of EPL. Sounds like your group had similar views on it as my club!

Bookfool said...

I loved reading about your group's discussion of Eat, Pray, Love. I just recently acquired a copy and hope to read it, soon.

Thanks, also for the terrific review of Sally Gunning's latest. I haven't managed to read her first book, but it was a favorite in my book listserv and I hope to read both, someday.

Tara said...

Iliana, you are welcome! There are a lot of stinkers in the chick-lit genre - I totally agree. There were certainly a few duds that I tried.

Carrie, me too ! I think my favorites are Watermelon and The Other Side of the Story. 70's huh? Haven't heard that before!

Lazy Cow, Well, I did really wind up enjoying Lola's storyline too - I just never loved how she was written. I am also looking out for the book about Helen - should be a good one.

Kay, you're welcome. I've been hesitant about the Weiner. I've enjoyed her books in the past but really disliked her last novel - it had a murder involved, I think. So that has put me off of her.

Bybee, I love that approach!

BooksPlease, I've imagined that Marian Keyes is like that in person - glad to know it's true. Hmmm. I should check out Elizabeth Gilbert at google authors. I don't think I've heard her speak.

LisaMM, you know, when I was thinking I wasn't going to like this book my plan was to write an honest review - for Harper Collins, and not blog about it. I figured no one would appreciate a negative review for a yet-unpublished book. Older books I don't feel the same way about.

Bookfool, Thanks! It was a fun meeting. I think Sally Gunning is an author that I'll continue to read. Great historical fiction!

LisaMM said...

Hey Tara, I took your advice and wrote the review honestly for Harper Collins and did not blog about it. Thanks.

Danielle said...

I used to read all Marian Keyes' books! I've not read her in a while, but I always enjoyed her books. My favorite is Lucy Sullivan is getting married. I think I've read it two or three times actually. I should pick one of her books up some time--they are fun! I had to laugh about the comment that Elizabeth Gilbert should have stayed celibate--I sort of agree in this case. I don't mind sex in books--I'm not a prude, but for some reason I just didn't want to go there when I was reading EPL! :)

LisaMM said...

Tara, I was wondering if you would be interested in writing a small blurb about your book club for a post I'm working on. It would include links to several book bloggers, all discussing the same topic: "Why I love my book club" or "What my book club means to me". A couple paragraphs would be enough (of course, longer would be fine too). I'm asking 5 or 6 bloggers to do this, so yours would be included in the same post with all of theirs, and I would include links and a little bio. background on each blogger. What do you think?

Let me know. I'd like to have the post up by the beginning of next week. You can email me at lisamunleyATcaDOTrrDOTcom

Tara said...

LisaMM, oh, good. I'm glad to help. I'm sure Harper Collins wants to hear the positive and negative so I'm sure you're feedback will be appreciated. I emailed you!

Danielle, I liked Lucy Sullivan too! Yeah, there was a bit too much information about the sex life in EPL =-)

Les said...

Nice write-up on your book group's discussion of EPL. My group sounds like it had a similar reaction as yours.

I'm currently reading a fun "chicklit" book by Claire Cook called Summer Blowout. I really enjoyed her first book, Must Love Dogs, but couldn't get into Life's A Beach. This new one has me laughing out loud and the pages are flying. A perfect summer read!

Tara said...

Les, thank you. I've heard of Claire Cook but haven't read her - I can picture the cover of Must Love Dogs, in fact. Summer Blowout sounds like fun!