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Last Chance Saloon - Marian Keyes

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      24.04.2013 16:45
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      5 stars

      Marian Keyes is one of my favourite authors. I have read all of her work and always look forward to her new books. This one although not my favourite is definitely a very good read which I was drawn in by and enjoyed a lot.

      Marian Keyes has a great way of writing, it is witty and has lots of themes going on in the book whilst at the same time feels like a very easy, laidback read.

      This book tells of three very good friends; Tara, Fenton and Katherine. It tells about their lives Tara is in an unhappy relationship with a man who keeps insulting her but she is too afraid to leave, Katherine is struggling to deal with a man at work- Joe- who keeps trying it on with her and Fenton who has quite a happy existence but then becomes ill and it is his illness which makes everyone begin to question the lives they lead and just how happy they really are.

      What I liked was that the characters annoyed me at times like when they moaned about being fat and being too afraid to leave their partners and so forth but then I think that this shows that Marian Keyes wrote about them very well for them to have such an influence upon me.

      I really liked the style that this was written in. It was about a difficult subject regarding Fenton's illness and also the insecurities of young women but it's written in such a way that you do not feel bogged down in it. It is rather light hearted and the humour is very cleverly done. I really do find myself chuckling when reading books by this author.

      This book isn't the best by Marian Keyes but I still enjoyed it and thought it had enough depth to keep me wanting to turn pages. The book had several things happening at the same time; friendships, relationships, illness and insecurities so it was enough to make it an interesting story.
      A full 5 out of 5 stars from me but if you haven't read any of Marian Keyes work before I recommend you try a different one first as this one wasn't as great as her others.

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      13.10.2009 12:19
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      Marian Keyes writes sensitively, but with humour

      If you have read any of Marian Keyes books before then you will know what to expect. A witty, saucy bit of chick-lit with 20-something characters that you can relate to. Last Chance Saloon is no exception and Keyes expertly combines a good laugh with some very touching moments.

      Last Chance Saloon focuses on three friends who grew up together in Ireland but are now living and working in London. Tara is in a dead-end relationship with a man she doesn't even like, Katherine has been burned in past relationships and has shut herself off to the possibility of love, while Fintan is happily living with his boyfriend but is about to get some horrific news. This book follows the year or so of the lives of these three and the people that come into (and out of) their lives. You get to see glimpses into their past and how it has shaped their present, and the climax of the book resolves some loose ends whilst also ensuring that the reader knows that there is no guarantee of happily-ever-after.

      This was a real page-turner for me and Keyes' main characters are both plausable and likeable. It is quite hard to involve a highly sensitive issue in chick-lit but Keyes does so sensitively and realistically, highlighting the struggle of not only cancer sufferers but also the struggles of those close to them.

      If you have read any Keyes before then this book won't disappoint. If you haven't then you should give it a try. My only criticism is that the book is really big and not great as a commuter book, purely for reasons of bulk.

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      25.06.2009 17:01
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      Not one to read when feeling emotional.

      This is actually quite a thought provoking book for a chick-lit novel.

      Rather than a singular focus central character or several disconnected storylines only uniting at the end, this plays out the lives of three best friends in very different situations, although I felt there was most time devoted to Katherine.

      The characters are normal. Everyone knows one of them. Tara - bogged down in a miserable relationship, Katherine - obsessive, bored and stuck and Fintan the only guy in the group who loves his life until it is literally grabbed away. They are endearing though, and incredibley supportive of each other - when deserved.

      Worryingly I found myself comparing habits to both the girls....

      This book takes you up, down and through the full spectrum of emotions from emultaing the feeling of the characters to wanting to throttle them for being so defeatist. Of couse being Marian Keyes the conclusion is quite happy and uplifting.

      Not one of the best but a good read.

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      17.01.2009 18:54
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      A must buy for anyone that loves a comedy.

      This book took my fancy straight away and i can honestly say i wasn't disappointed!

      ~~The Plot~~

      Tara, Finton and Katharine have been best friends for as long as they can remember. They've done everything together, laughed, cried, drunken hilarities and have always been there when needed. They're hitting their thirties and suddenly life has become more realistic as fate deals them a rotton blow.

      Tara is still looking for that perfect diet whilst looking for that ever lasting lipstick; Katharine is a no man area and has been for as long as the friends remember. Fintan, however, is the one with the love life but what has fate in store?

      The three friends have to cope with some horrific news and their lives will change forever, whether this is good or bad can only remain to be seen. Will they all pull through alive and with their hopes intact? They survived their trip from a rural village to London years ago, but will they survive this?

      ~~My Opinion~~

      I absolutely loved this book for a variety of reasons that hopefully i'll explain in a minute. Firstly, the characters were completely believeable and if you enjoyed the TV series "Friends", then you'll probably enjoy this (although it is more of a chick read). The characters are all realistic and it looks like Keyes has cleverly modelled them against real life characters. This can be a risky tactic, but i really think on this occasion it has paid off tremendously. How was i able to tell this? Well the time and effort Keyes has spent evaluating each character to show exactly why they are who they are. They're ordinary people, with ordinary lives - well they were at the start of the book!

      Tara, Fintan and Katharine all have their own trials throughout the book. Quiet little Katharine that has formed a bigger relationship with her tv and her work than a man since she was last dumped, has to work through the past in order to become the present. What really happened to her to make her the way she is and will this affect her future?

      Tara is in a long term relationship but everyone around her can see it's wrong and even she knows it isn't everything it should be. Her boyfriend is controlling and constantly nags her about her weight. As anyone knows, the more comments you receive about your weight, the harder it is to lose! Why is she still in this relationship? She's scared of being single! She's bounced from man to man since she was 16 years old and doesn't know what it's like to be on her own. Everyone knows it's horrible to feel single, especially the older you get. Thing is, when you're in a relationship you're unlikely to meet someone for a new one so Tara's logic seems a bit backwards to me.

      Fintan was my favourite character throughout the book and is the one that could see where his friends were going wrong, but was powerless to change their direction. He's in love with his partner, has a fabulous career in fashion and a fantastic sense of humour. Things take a change in his life though, can he make his friends realise their mistakes before it's too late? Fintan's power to see through his friends is definitely based on real life if you ask me. I know several people that can show you exactly where you're going wrong when trying to achieve your dreams and they're exactly like Fintan.

      There are several other characters that help to show why they've turned out like they are, but they are by no means as important as these three. They are mostly there to increase the hilarity and put some more silly moments in the book that will keep you giggling. Imagine a country family going to London for the first time, dressed like they're on a farm. They have no concept of what London really is and it really is hilarious to watch them find their feet, even if it is only on a few occasions.

      The ending of the book definitely wasn't a let down, unless you count the fact the book had ended! The characters come to some conclusions but there is plenty of room for your imagination to work out what would happen next. You can even imagine the mistakes they're going to make next as you feel so close to the characters. I feel another book with the same characters following on their lives would definitely be a hit, but i can't see it happening.

      ~~My verdict~~

      I felt this book was a fantastic edition to Keyes already established set of books and i couldn't force myself to put it down. There are happy moments, sad moments and moments where you don't know whether to laugh or cry! Whoever thought a book could lead to so many emotions at the same time?

      I'd recommend this to anyone with a sense of humour and as i mentioned above, anyone that loved the tv series "Friends".

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        02.01.2009 09:12
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        Definitely worth a read!

        Last Chance Saloon follows the story of Tara, Fintan & Katherine who have been friends since the 80s.

        Tara believes that having a man is definitely better than being alone, even if he is not necessarily Mr. Right or even Mr. Could Be Right.

        Katherine believes that not having a man is definitely better than being with somebody who wants to monopolise on your time.

        Fintan so far is the only one of the gang who seems to have found true love but that could all be swept away from him...

        This book follows them in their early thirties, living in London.

        Without spoiling the book completely Fintan becomes ill & both girls have to rally together to help him come through it. Katherine just might find a man who can steal her away from the remote control & her very ordered lifestyle & Tara realises that life is definitely too short to waste on someone thats just not right.

        I definitely found this book to be one that was almost impossible to put down although it did take a couple of chapters (maybe 3 or 4) to grab my interest and make me realise what a real page turner it was!

        As with most books of this style alls well that ends well (well, pretty much anyway!)

        Others books from Marian Keyes:

        Watermelon
        Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married
        Rachel's Holiday
        Sushi For Beginners
        No Dress Rehearsal
        Angels
        The Other Side Of The Story
        Anybody Out There?
        This Charming Man

        Available on Amazon.co.uk from £4.62 new and £0.01 used & new.

        ISBN: 0-14-027180-5
        Information About The Author: www.mariankeyes.com

        You can also find this review on ciao.co.uk under the same title, username katyeverett :)

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        10.09.2005 10:55
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        An enjoyable read with superb characters.

        ***The plot***

        Katherine, Tara and Fintan have known each other from an early age onward. Having grown up in the same small village in rural Ireland, they one day decided to pack their bags and move to London to start a different kind of life. Now in their thirties, each of the characters faces a different kind of struggle with life's smaller and bigger challenges. This throws up one important question: Is it too late to change their set ways? When tragedy strikes at the heart of the circle of friends, it makes Katherine, Tara and even Fintan re-evaluate their lives.

        This is one of those stories that follows a group of friends through a stage of their lives without having a clear start or ending to it, a glimpse into their lives, not a complete story thereof. The challenge to the author is therefore to encapsulate reality as closely as possible, to encapsulate what life is all about.


        ***My opinion***

        I did not expect too much from this book, in fact, I thought it would be only another one of those fluffy women's novels that is almost instantly forgettable. Much to my surprise, however, I found that this book was without doubt a notch above the rest.

        The first thing that sets this book apart from other works in its genre is that it comes across as being realistic and believable. There are no perfect human beings, no perfect women landing fairytale men, no chubby Bridget Jones-type characters conquering a wealthy and handsome member of the male species. There is no real escapism in the form of overblown and unaffordable romantic gestures, no runaways to exotic hideaways - the setting is simply ordinary day-to-day life with its ups and downs.

        The second thing that sets the story apart from the rest is the amount of effort that went into the author's character development. Every character has been, it seems, modelled on someone in real life. I could recognise traits that I have clearly seen in individuals that I know personally - both in the present and the past.

        First of all, there is Katherine. She is sort of like Monica from "Friends", although a quieter version. Everything in her life has to be neat and tidy - her flat, her appearance, down to prim and proper underwear that nobody ever gets to see. This desire for neatness is just an aspect of Katherine's need for control - something that is reflected both in her work life and her love life. As an accountant, she is diligent and will never miss a thing. She will not procrastinate by engaging in office talk or flirtations - she only focuses on her job. In her private life she is adamant that she will not have a man ruin her life, she's happier single, watching TV alone on a Saturday night in her tidy flat. Or is she in fact missing something?

        Next is Katherine's best friend Tara, who in many ways is the total opposite of Katherine. Tara is loud and, unlike Katherine, craves company more than anything. She has never been single since the age of sixteen and would rather stick with a bad relationship than have none at all. Her current man, Thomas, is far from a knight in shining armour. But at age thirty, Tara is adamant that this is her last chance for marriage and children. The other way in which Tara differs from Katherine is in her lack of self-control. Tara cannot control spending. Worse yet, she cannot control eating, much to the dismay of Thomas. But the more Thomas complains, the more Tara feels like eating. Can she change her set ways?

        Fintan is the third character in this circle of friends - a lovely gay man, an actor with a huge sense if humour and a big heart. He clearly sees that there is something missing in both Katherine's and Tara's life - but will they listen to him?

        With the exception of one character, Liv, the peripheral characters are also very well developed. Liv never quite seemed real to me. I am struggling to pinpoint why the author has failed here when she succeeded so nicely with everyone else. In many ways the storyline would have benefited from Liv being dropped completely - nothing would have been amiss by losing a few pages of a book that spans almost 600 pages.

        There is also a sub-plot, which, although connected to the main plot and a tool to explain the character traits of a certain individual in the storyline, seems to be largely unnecessary. I did enjoy the sub-plot as it introduces some superb characters, however, I almost would have preferred it to be covered in a separate book.

        The ending is satisfying and heart-warming without being over-the-top, but it leaves open some questions as to what may happen next to the characters. Ordinarily, this would bother me, but for some reason having to imagine my own continuation to this storyline did not bother me much - the ending did leave me very satisfied.


        ***The verdict***

        Although the read is indeed very enjoyable it is not a traditional page-turner. I found it quite easy to out the book away and take a break from reading it, even for a couple of days. I also found it equally easy to dive back into the storyline without feeling like I had lost the thread from where I had stopped last. It was very much like interrupting and restarting a sitcom.

        Overall, I would really recommend this book, especially to those who enjoy a bit of light reading but do not have much time to read. This will make the perfect companion for the train, the bathtub or a rainy Sunday afternoon.


        ***Further information***

        Penguin Books
        Author: Marian Keyes
        Pages: 596
        ISBN: 0-14-027189-5
        Price: £6.99 (paperback)

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          31.05.2003 00:22
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          Last Chance Saloon, I feel in my opinion, was one of the best books ever.. I couldn't put it down. This story about finding new relationships and trusting them, leaving old relationships and moving, dealing with a friend with cancer was just intruiging. It really taught the reader to live every day to the fullest.. and not to be afraid to take a risk.. I absolutely loved this book... i have never read a book where somemuch can be going on and boom... you realize how everthing fits together,and they act the way they do... it was a phenomanal book and i would reccommend it to anyone...... I loved it.

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            30.09.2002 21:23
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            Having read 'Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married', and 'Sushi For Beginners', I was beginning to wonder just what the fuss about Marian Keyes was. I kept plodding through though as my mother keeps buying them for me because she heard that a second cousin of a friend of a friend liked them or something, and so she bought four of them. I actually finished this novel about a week ago, it took me about three days to read and that's only because I was so busy! I assure you that I would have read it cover to cover without stopping (well, maybe), and thus you have my first pro-point of this novel - you can't put it down, it would be a sin to. I loved this book, unfortunately for some bad reasons. Tara, 31, is in the 'Last Chance Saloon', where fear of being single is far worse than fear of being with a man who keeps his change (when he has his own money) in a brown string purse, loves his cat more than sex, and who's favourite phrase is 'I speak as I bludeh find' (yes, Thomas is Yorkshire born and bred). I think that many women would identify with this; dead-end relationships are all the rage aren't they? But the urge for Tara to get herself a bloke she deserves is so great, I felt that the book could probably run on this strand of the story alone. Keyes' builds up such a hatred for Thomas that you would just love to kick him in the knackers. The mere fact that Tara would do anything to please her man - including knitting a (brown) jumper - stirs up such an angry, if not familiar, yet humorous feeling that you spend the entire book waiting for her to come to her senses. I found Tara doing and saying things that I had done and said to justify a relationship - it was so compelling it was unreal. Katherine, best friends with Tara well before days of Wham! and fluorescent leg warmers is exactly the opposite. She can destroy even the most cocky of male egos at light speed and would never be seen dead even near
            a man. She is far from popular at work, has earned the nickname of 'Ice Queen', yet when the ever persistent Joe Roth takes an interest, will an accusation of sexual abuse ruin Katherine's chances? Not to mention a pompous luvvy who reappears to ruin Joe's chances when Joe ruined his career. Fintan, probably the most fashionable homosexual, lives with his 'Italian pony' (he's too small to be a stallion), Sandro, and has the good life. He's been friends with Tara and Katherine since their teens, when they lived in Knockavoy, Ireland. They now live the high life in London - decent enough jobs, life going reasonably smoothly. Yes, you've guessed it - its about to change. And it's a horrible circumstance that changes them. Ok, if you've read the above and are convinced that these people sound like a load of stereotypes, you'd be right. But there is something about this book that differs from the other's I have read. The characters aren't stereotypical to the point of predictable and annoying. I quite liked these characters, unlike Lisa in 'Sushi For Beginners', and Lucy in 'Lucy Sullivan?'. They seemed far more realistic and human. I probably felt this way because of my similarities with Tara (although I never said I was in a Last Chance Saloon!), but whatever, I liked it. I also found this book far more humorous than the rest. I loved Tara's attempts at dieting - going on a fitness machine while gobbling down a post drinking binge burger and chips was hilarious. Or getting up with a hangover and eating a whole loaf of bread. Or the typical 'Irishness' of Fintan's family will no doubt have you giggling, if not guffawing. I also felt that it was far less predictable than the others, as it had a pretty good twist in the story, albeit a bit too close to the end. Maybe a bit more could have been made out of it. I wouldn't go so far as to write d
            own all the clichés of 'this book made me re-evaluate my life', or 'I was crying tears of joy mixed with sadness into my empty box of kleenex', because if anything that will make you run as far from a Marian Keyes novel as possible. But I'll just tell you that I am now converted. All is forgiven Ms Keyes, I'm just off to curl up in front of the fire and read 'Rachel's Holiday'. Ok, it's a nice day and the fire won't go on, but it's probably the perfect setting for a Keyes' novel.

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              15.09.2001 22:19
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              • "Made too trivial"

              To me, Marian Keyes is ‘the’ stalwart lassie of British/Irish female fiction. She is no Victor Hugo (but who is?), but she has churned out some classics of her own genre. In terms of Last Chance Saloon, I'd like to say some very nice things about this book. I mean, I like Marian Keyes immensely. She is a warm, funny and knowledgeable writer – but my personal opinion is that this book has let her and the reader down somewhat - especially when one compares it to her previous more serious/much wittier (and believe me the two can be combined) 'light' fiction. The book deals primarily with three friends who have left their native Ireland to live in London and the plot extends to two of the female friends having 'boy trouble' whilst the gay male friend develops cancer. This said, the story does not lead to any deepening of feeling at any point - 'boy trouble' is brought out as the central axis of the plot whilst poor Fintan, the gay character, merely sits in the background as some kind of pitiful reminder that these girls must make themselves happy with love and lads before it's too late and spinsterhood is upon them – hence the title, Last Chance Saloon. With this certain lack of depth in the plot, I, as a regular reader, felt more than a little let down. Marian Keyes can normally cope well with mixing serious background subjects (alcoholism, young pregnancy, etc.) with warm, light-hearted 'love' play - see Rachel's Holiday and Watermelon for excellent, heart-warming examples of this. This book unfortunately joins the masses of 'young' female fiction that is obsessed with messages of 'boy meets girl or else everything else is a tragedy' stuff which is more than a little sad as she has obviously intended to present, with the inclusion of a cancer victim, such a strong contrasting background subject to give the whole book SOME depth to add to her usual width of
              work! If you haven't read Marian Keyes before - try any other tome and you will be pleasantly surprised and reeling at how great and original a 'young female' writer she is - she can bring out heartbreak and joy in one single sentence and her earlier work has surely inspired a bevy of young, female authors to write in this way about similar, everyday subjects. This book still has its moments (backed up by great cover reviews and reader reviews – most opinion titles for this book hint that most other dooyoo contributors like it!) - but, for some of the regulars, they are so, so few. I found the book tiresome (and boring!) to get through and missed Keyes’ ability to make me turn the page at a quicker pace. I still have ‘Sushi for Beginners’ – Keyes’ next book – on my bedside table and I hope I won’t be falling asleep (or counting the pages) as often. But to give me a little solace, I’ll be reading a more ‘serious’ book first. P.S. In future Marian, try to include a little more sensitivity in your work! Cancer is a serious illness that does not necessarily give permission to be ‘treated’ in a comic and trivial manner. Think about it please!

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                31.03.2001 23:09

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                I am fastly becoming a HUGE Marian Keyes lover. I started out with "Watermelon" and found it ok, but since then, I have craved more and more of her work. I have gone back over all of her work and find more and more brillance each time. And, with "Last Chance Saloon", I am blissfully happy. I love this book! I mean, LOVE it. I found the characters so easy to read.Tara,Katherine and Fintan have been best friends since they were teenagers, in the days of legwarmers,pink stretch jeans and Duran Duran.Now in their early 30's they are living in London,but so far only Fintan has found true love.Tara,stuck in a dead end realtionship,believes that when your in the last chance saloon,even a man who keeps his change in a little old ladies purse,is better than no man at all.I completely enjoyed Tara and her rough road of love and life. I was enchanted by her personality and heart. I think that Marian Keyes is not well known enough in this country and everyone should be talking about her books, just like "Bridget Jones". While, I am a huge fan of H. Fielding, I think that Keyes is equally talented! This is a book with plenty of heart,lots of laughs and a fantastic twist.Give it a try, you won't be disappointed.

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                12.01.2001 18:02
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                This was my first Marian Keyes book bought hurriedly at Heathrow Aiport for reading on the plane. I never got to read it then but I stayed in the hotel one night and started to read it..... 6 hours later I was closing the book with a huge grin on my face. Last Chance Saloon is a tale of three 30 something freinds - Tara a bubbly girl, desperate to settle down, but stuck in a relationship with the awfully rude Thomas (everything in his life is brown!), Katherine who is so in control of her life, she wont let any man near her and Fintan loud, outrageously clothed and gay. You follow them through a year of their lives starting with Tara's 31st Birthday. Little do they know that tremendous changes are afoot, and that the strength of their friendship will be severely tested. Marain Keyes keeps you interested from the very first page, with lots of irish humour and warm emotions. You become to know the three freinds intimately as she takes you from the present to their past, this explains the little quirks in the personalities. There is also sadness in the book, but to explain that would be to spoil the plot. Will Tara ever find true love and that stay put lipstick? will Katherine fall for the sexy Joe Roth who joined her company you'll have to read it to find out!!! All I can say is please read it. A wonderfully warm, funny book that will make you laugh out loud. Now where's Sushi for Beginners!!!

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                  14.09.2000 20:29
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                  This was my first Marian Keyes book and it won't be my last. I was very impressed by the easy going style of writing and the way that several stories were intertwined only coming together near the end of the book. The book is basically about a group of people who have been friends since childhood and their lives as they approach 30. All still single with good jobs, they still worry about being left on the shelf and becoming bitter old spinsters. It describes a phase that many females go through as they get older when all their friends are getting married. Although they might be quite happy with their single lives, doubts do creep in. I found this book extremely easy to relate to and I understood many of the problems that they faced. It was so easy to empathise with the characters and to understand what may seem to be irrational behaviour. Sometimes you wanted to scream at the characters to get a grip and leave the pig of a boyfriend! The story line was incredibly gripping with cliffhangers on every page causing me many late nights reading. Marian Keyes pointed out one very important point with this book. No matter how far you run the past always has a nasty habit of catching up with you even in large cities such as London. Although there are 55 million people on this island, the amount of people that know you is probably a lot higher than you think! Be warned!

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                    05.09.2000 00:05
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                    Yes, it is a more serious read - but the familar Keyes humour is still there! If you are expecting something very similar to Watermelon and Lucy Sullivan..., you may be disappointed - but I felt that this was a wonderful book - so much so that I read it again as soon as I had finished it for the first time. Don't get me wrong - I loved her first three books - Lucy Sullivan is probably the book I have read the most times, but this has something more -it deals with a subject that still seems taboo, that of cancer in young men, but in a sympathetically humourous way - life is not all about young single women and boyfriend trouble and this book illustrates this perfectly - it still covers the women and their boyfriend issues, but also with a twist, the gay male friend who becomes ill - but - the predictable illness doesn't come - he ISN'T HIV poisitive - he has cancer -and this book deals with the effects of his treatment and symptoms on himself, his family and his friends -showing feelings and opinions from all sides - it doesn't over-dwell either - each of the main characters is given time to develop - you learn about the different things affecting each of them - and how these things also affect their friends and families. This is an excellent book for someone wanting something with slightly more depth than Lucy Sullivan or Watermelon -but still written with the same talent and appeal. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

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                    26.08.2000 15:44
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                    Compared to her other books, Last Chance Saloon is much more serious, much less predictable and much more off the wall. It's a very different book but I enjoyed it just as much. It didn't make me laugh out loud, but it did make me cry. Touching on a serious subject this book can be quite thought-provoking. There are some familiar story lines in it (such as the mad Irish family) but there is a lot more that we haven't seen before from Keyes. Her serious side was touched upon in Rachel's Holioday which is another of her darker books, but even that had me rolling in the aisles. Not many laughs but good just the same.

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                    12.08.2000 16:09

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                    Having read Lucy Sullivan is getting married, and also Rachel's Holiday, I was delighted to see Last Chance Saloon on the shelf of my supermarket. However, I have to say that I am not finding it as addictive as the other two books. It seems to be lacking something that made the other books compelling reading. I couldn't put the other two down, and read them both in a weekend, but so far, Last Chance Saloon has taken me two weeks to read, and I haven't finished it yet. Maybe it's me, but I hope that her next book has the magic of the first two.

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