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I have enjoyed many books by Patricia Scanlan, so it was with relish that I picked up another of her offerings - Francesca's Party - and I was not disappointed in the slightest. I enjoyed this book from the very first to the very first page, and because of Patricia Scanlan's easy relaxed style it was like visiting an old friend.
At the very start of the book we meet Francesca, and if you have already read the blurb, you realise that before long she is going to discover that her husband Mark is having an affair and that she is soon going to be facing life on her own. This is exactly what happens in the first few pages. Francesca drops Mark off at Dublin Airport for him to set off on a business trip but before she leaves the airport she discovers that he has left his mobile phone in the car. Knowing that he will be annoyed not to have it, she goes back in to the airport to find him, only to spy him kissing passionately a much younger woman before both of them checking on to a different flight to the one that she had been told about! Totally devastated, she follows Mark to Cork and confronts him and as a result throws him out and changes all the locks on the house.
Nikki, Mark's new woman, is delighted by this turn of affairs, thinking that she and Mark will live happily ever after but Mark is horrified and tries to do all he can to get Francesca back or at least get back into the family home!
This all happens within the first couple of chapters and the rest of the book follows Francesca's journey over the next year, and as the reader, you can't help rooting for her. At first she totally falls apart and I did find myself getting slightly annoyed with her and her failure to get on with it. However, you always realise that it would not be much of a story if a change did not happen at some time in the book, but it did feel an awful long wait.
There is a turning point for Francesca though and once she arrives at this point, her self esteem returns and she can actually see that there might be a future for her. Unsurprisingly, as this happens, Marks starts seeing all of the sides of her that he fell in love with and all of a sudden, the prospect of living with Nikki does not seem quite so favourable. He sets about trying to get Francesca back and the question that you can't help feeling as you are reading is whether she is strong enough to resist or not? You really hope that she can as he does prove to be quite a nasty and arrogant character at times. Whether she does succumb or not is for you to read and find out if this is the sort of book that might appeal to you! Also, if you do decide to read it you will se the significance of the party which I have not referred to al all but definitely does take place.
As I said before, I am a big fan of Patricia Scanlan and one of the reasons for this is because she has the ability to make her characters seem very real. This is particularly true of Francesca and also of Mark and Nikki. She also makes it quite impossible to dislike her nastier characters too as she manages to present a more sympathetic side to them, in this case both Nikki and Mark. There are also a whole host of minor characters within the tale who are very likeable especially the ones that help Francesca on her route to a happier life.
Patricia Scanlan also has a way of hooking the reader in from the very start. I am not sure exactly how she does this but it always seems to work for me! Maybe it is because she writes about people and events that the ordinary woman is able to identify with.
The story is a very poignant one and incredibly sad in places especially where Francesca and Mark seem to hit absolute rock bottom as far as their relationship with each other is concerned. It is very sad to see a marriage deteriorate in any circumstances but open hostilities, such as we witness in the book, seem to make it even worse. Francesca is given some good advice from some of her friends though and the strongest message seems to be that she has to let go off her anger in order to move on. This strikes me as a most pertinent message for most people as they face difficult relationship breakdowns.
Overall then, this was a totally absorbing read from start to finish and I absolutely loved it. It is quite a long read with just under 600 pages but my interest never wavered at all which I can't always say is the way for all longer books. That is because the story is so good, the characters are so real and the pace is just right. It could almost be a perfect read!
The book is currently available on Amazon for £5.48.
As with every Patricia Scanlan book I've read (which is most of them) I have enjoyed this one and it has a really good storyline. Francesca Kirwan is the main character and has been the best mother to her children and wife to her Mark her husband. When she drops him at the airport one morning she doesn't realise quite how much her life is about to change. She discovers her husband has been having an affair with young successful banker, Nikki Langan. After the shock of what she has seen begins to subside Francesca needs to decide what she is going to do about the situation. Will she manage to turn it around and move on and make a new life for herself and stand on her own 2 feet?
Brilliant book with brilliant ending and storyline. The characters have been well thought out and you do feel very involved in their lives. Would definitely recommend to anyone that has enjoyed any of Patricia Scanlans other books or someone looking to try one of her books for the first time.