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Lessons in Heartbreak is a book that I picked up in the library on my most recent visit. I was mistaken when I picked this up as I assumed it was Cathy Glass who had written it, and I've read a number of her books before and found them highly readable if a bit hard going. I realised my mistake on getting home, but the book is described as 'bursting with emotion, heartache and dreams' and a tear-pricking writer, capable of making you care about her characters.' I settled down for what I was predicting to be a good read.
The book I have is a hard back copy, with 438 pages. It has taken me a while to read compared to other novels as I found it quite hard to get engrossed in.
It follows the lives of women who are in different generations of the same family who originate in Ireland. Izzy Silver is living away from her family in New York. Approaching 40, she is feeling the tick of her biological clock a bit, and embarks upon an affair with a very unsuitable man.
Back in Ireland, her aunt Anneliese has been blissfully unaware of her husband cheating on her until he leaves her out of the blue for her best friend.
Then there is grandmother Lily. A woman in her 90s, yet still very with it. Her life is upturned when a newcomer to the village finds a photograph of the house Lily worked in when she was a young child. It brings back many memories of her earlier life and in particular her time living in London throughout the war years where she worked as a nurse.
The story flits between the lives of the three woman, looking at some pretty emotional topics with very little to break up the tone of this story. Out of the three stories, the one that had most appeal and felt most real to me was the one of the grandmother's live in the war. The story of Izzy's life in New York was not appealing at all to me, and I felt that these sections of the novel in New York dragged a bit when I was reading them. It just didn't feel that fresh an idea, and I was only kept reading in anticipation of the more vivid scenes set in Ireland or in London.
There are some pretty heavy themes running throughout the book. Most of this is heavy emotional stuff which I did find quite draining to read. Page after page of Anneliese dealing with depression really got to me having suffered with this myself, although I do give credit here to the author for tackling this realistically and with empathy.
While this is a solid novel with gritty women characters, I kind of felt like there was too much to concentrate on and deal with. I found it confusing at first getting my head round the relationship of these characters, and I also felt that there were two decent stories here for the older relatives that could have been enhanced further through having a bit of male perspective from the characters that were involved such as the husband who left Anneliese. Too much time was spent on the storyline set in New York, which for me added little of value to the story apart from allowing the grandaughter to get some lessons in heartbreak.
It was a realistic novel, and well written, but overall it just didn't work for me due to this dilution of the story in an extra direction and it lacking a bit in pace. All of the women characters are quite likeable, and there is a good sense of family commitment which I enjoyed. I did feel there was something missing for me though which makes it hard for me to recommend. I will give this three stars as it was readable, if not always enjoyable. I just didn't really care that much about the final outcome for the characters like I normally would.
When I am in the mood for a good chick lit novel I do tend to turn to one of my favourites Cathy Kelly. Not always the most cheerful of books there is generally an uplifting message hidden somewhere in the story, which is one of the reasons why I do enjoy delving into one of her books every now and then.
Lessons in love is a story about three generations of an Irish Family and how their lives as much as they are intertwined still hold secrets.
Firstly there is Izzie Silver, the youngest of the main characters who is living and loving in New York, enjoying her fantastic job at one of the cities hottest modelling companies Perfect NY, most people would be jealous of her life. That is if they didn't know that Izzie was being torn apart by her love for rich new york businessman Joe, a man so dazzlingly handsome he had Izzie at Hello despite her best intentions to stay away, the problem with Joe we hear you ask. Well he's married and the father of three very loved boys.
Then there is Izzie's aunt Anneliese, who upon discovering secrets about her own marriage begins a downward spiral in her life, only to be shocked again to discover that her favourite aunt in law the full of life Lily has been taken into hospital seriously ill.
When Izzie and her aunt Anneliese are brought together to look after their beloved Lily, they discover things about each other, and Lily that help both of them make some important decisions in their lives. Sometimes it takes looking back to the past to discover the answers to the questions in your future.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book as I have with previous Kelly books, I wasn't sure when I read the back cover that it would be as cheerful as some of her previous books that I had read, and I have to admit to shedding a tear or two whilst reading this one.
I found the stories of Lily's life as a nurse during the war brilliant and I thought they really added something different to the story. Parts of the story really pull at your heartstrings and I found the main character I related with was Lily, the way she dealt with her heartbreak was a lot like I have been in the past and I found her story was very well written, even though it was done in flash back sense which I am not always a fan of.
Not the easiest of books to read if you are like me and a little emotional at times, will definately bring a tear to the eye, but definately worth persevering with, it is worth it in the end.
For more information on cathy's books her official website is www.cathykelly.com
You can buy your copy at amazon from £4.66
I have quite a few favourite authors whose books I will buy in hardback when they are released, as I am so eager to get their books! However, Cathy Kelly doesn't fall into this category for me. I didn't want to spend loads on this book as I find her books a bit hit and miss, so I actually reserved my copy from the local library and loandbehold, just a week after its release, my copy was ready to be collected. It was a chunky old hardback, not my favourite, but I got ready to read it, hoping it wouldn't be a disappointment as some of her books have been to me.
Lessons In Heartbreak follows the lives of 3 women of different generations in one family, and their trials and tribulations. Izzie Silver is a young 39 year old Irish woman living and working in New York at a Modelling Agency. She hasn't yet found the one but has found herself going against everything she has ever said to herself about dating married men when Joe comes along. Lily, a 90 year old woman and Izzie's grandmother lives in Tamarin in Ireland. Lily has many stories to tell and misses her grand-daughter terribly, and becomes the centre of focus for the family again when she becomes ill. And finally, Annelise's world is turned upside-down after a chance encounter with husband Edward leaves her shocked to her core and sends Annelise on a path of destruction.
The book flips between New York and Ireland, whcih makes for interesting reading, but Cathy Kelly has such a way of writing that you don't struggle with the movement in the book, and it flows incredibly well, so much so that nothing seems out of place and blends so nicely. The book is written in the third person, which I think enables the ease of movement in the story and allows for the author to delve into the thoughts and feelings of each character without it taking over too much. Oh, and as well as the global movement, we also move through time in the book, flipping back to Lily's childhood in World War riden Britain. It was actually these flashback chapters I enjoyed most in the book, as they were so detailed and you could totally lose yourself in Lily's world, amazingly written.
The plot of the book isn't the most cheerful, and consequently doesn't make for the happiest of reading either. As the title suggests, the book is about heartbreak, and how this has taken its toll on each of the character, and how we are all affected in different ways. Izzie for example, she works like a trogan to get through her grief, whereas Annelise is much more emotional and delicate, and this really comes through when you are reading. Lily on the other hand, is much more of a mystery and you have to wait until you are quite a way into the book for the story about Lily's heartbreak to become more obvious, but it truly is a real love story.
The characters are very well-written and I enjoyed the chapters based on each of the women. Strangely, although they are all family, the characters are rarely in scenes together through the book, and somehow this works. We get to see them as individuals, and also as family members, and the true characters really shine through. They are all different, yet fundamentally the same and they are so realistic and believable, you can just feel their emotions with them and sympathise. It is a talent of Kelly to write in such a way where you feel emotionally involved with the characters, and her realism really hits home when reading her novels.
I did enjoy this book a lot, although I must say I felt relieved when I got to the end of the book. At 464 pages, the book is pretty long, and although it is doesn't drag and bore you, it is quite tiring and draining to read, as the books really pulls on your emotions and draws you in. It isn't the happiest read, because the characters are going through heartbreak but at the same time, it is incredibly realistic and readable, and also very consuming. If you enjoy an engrossing novel which leaves you feeling a bit drained but also that you've been on a real journey, I'd recommend that you tried this one. A great read, if a little depressing, but it makes you grateful for what you've got!
ISBN: 9780007240388. Published by Harper Collins in Hardback in 2008. The price of the Hardback on Play.com is £8.99, although the paperback copy is due for release on 16th June 2008, at a price of £5.49 on Play. The author Cathy Kelly is an Irish writer who has written 10 best-selling novels. For more information on Cathy and her other books, see her website, www.cathykelly.com.
Thank you for reading!