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Sushi for Beginners - Marian Keyes

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  • Annoying characters
  • no real 'meat' to it
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      18.07.2010 17:52
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      With doing a lot of travelling around the country lately, I have been going through books like nothing else. I have always been a fan of Marian Keyes ever since I read her book Angels but I am now reading Sushi For Beginners. It is still Irish settings as they always have to have some kind of an Irish link but I'm not shocked to say it is yet another addictive read. I love when I find a book that really is worth reading as normally anything over 400 pages really scares me but I was willing to give this one a go just because I know she's a good writer.

      PLOT

      The book begins with us being introduced to each of the main characters in their own chapters. The chapters are never longer than 10 pages which I like as I find it a lot easier to whizz through the book. The first character we should know about is Lisa, she has worked her way up the magazine ladder and hopes to be getting promoted to work on a New York fashion magazine with her experience but instead her Publishing Group decide to post her off to Ireland where a new women's fashion magazine is set to be launching and she is in charge of the team. Her role is to make this a success so instead of New York she is jetted off to Dublin.

      This is not what she had in mind but she decides she only needs to stay a year and then she will be fine and can go anywhere after this. Her goal is to make this magazine a success no matter how hard it may be. Lisa is beautiful, high up, powerful, bossy, strict but well dressed, amazing hair, just perfection.

      Next is Ashling, your girl next door Irish girl, she has worked for boring magazines in the past but working for Colleen is a whole new experience for her. She has never written articles about men before and for that matter ever written articles before. She is a bit of a perfectionist, has great friends and seems down to earth, the opposite of uptight Lisa. Ashling is paranoid that she has no waist and hasn't been dating a lot recently but now her life has taken a new turn and she has to get back to building her life up again and making more of her appearance.

      Joy is Ashling's neighbour bit of a man eater always giving Ashling funny advice on men and just a generally happy soul. She is always out partying and enjoys life and tries to encourage Ashling to be a bit more like her and be more care free. Ted is another of Ashling's friends he doesn't fancy her but they have always gotten on so well. Ted is trying out to be a comedian and loves Ashling's friend Clodagh but has no real girlfriend.

      Clodagh is one of Ashling's best friends; she has kids and is a full time stay at home mum while her husband Dylan is the main earner so they are financially comfortable. Clodagh and Dylan's relationship is not so much affectionate anymore and Clodagh is too wrapped up in the children and seems to have lost having a life.

      Other characters I love in this book are the office of Colleen where you have chief boss Jack Devine, good looking, powerful figure and Lisa has a thing for him but he has a girlfriend called Mai. There are always jokes going on in the office and you feel you work there when they are having digs with each other and general office banter.

      The book is very well written in a relatable and down to earth manner. Marian Keyes really gives you characters from all walks of life to add variety and contrast to the dialogue. I like that there is focus on three different main characters as they all lead such different lives and it adds a bit of suspense when you want to know what is going to happen next with one character. I also like how they all tie into each others lives.

      It is not one of those books I found myself struggling to turn the pages of because even though it is big, it really always has something going on. We enter a world of media and launch parties here and I like Ashling's character as she is like the majority of us who gets excited about freebies as she is not used to doing these kinds of things so it is a new thing for her.

      The book is one I'd recommend for women of all ages as I am young but I still loved it. It is easy to pick up and put down at any time and still get right back into it from where you left off. The book never gets dull and although it is not full of twists and that kind of thing, it still has good storylines that make you want to read on. The book to be summed up is a mix of fashion, careers, life, love and reality. I like the way it shows Clodagh the full time mother, glamorous Lisa the editor and how even she doesn't always get what she wants and Ashling who is insecure and normal.

      If you think this sounds like a book you want to get your hands on, its RRP is £7.99 but Amazon.co.uk are selling it for the price of £4.49 which is very good and you can also get second hand copies cheap on eBay.

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        09.11.2009 14:39
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        A thoroughly enjoyable read

        I can't believe that I have been reading for as many years as I have and have never read any of Marian Keyes' novels although I have been aware of a lot of her titles. This is now rectified having just completed Sushi for Beginners and the only problem is now, that having read this one, I want to read all of the others.

        Sushi for Beginners is set in Dublin and follows the lives of three women. There is Lisa who is pushy and ambitious and sees being sent to Ireland in order to editor a new magazine about the worst thing that could happen to her! (She was hoping for a promotion to New York.) Next there is Ashling who is a down to earth homely kind of girl - the sort who is happy to help anyone but as a result is in danger of being walked all over. That is especially true with a best friend like Clodagh who ought to be happy with a gorgeous husband and two adorable children. Unfortunately, for Clodagh, the grass is always greener on the other side and with her obsessive nature she is quite likely to lose everything she ever had.

        The novel follows the three women's lives - sometimes overlapping, sometimes not. Their lives do converge much of the times especially as both Lisa and Ashling work for the same new magazine - 'Colleen'. All sorts happen to the three of them over the course of about a year especially relating to their love lives which are mainly quite tempestuous to say the least. The novel works well because it has a great pace to it and there is lots going on to keep the reader's interest. I did wonder whether to bother when I noticed that the novel is very long with 560 pages as my interest staying power is generally quite a lot less than that. I'm glad I did stick with it though as I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of its 560 pages!

        The characters are all very believeable and I particularly warmed to Ashling and her desire to help everyone else including the homeless man she often finds on her doorstep. Lisa and Clodagh are perhaps slightly harder to like but I did start to feel more sympathetic to them both as I got to know them better. There is also a multitude of minor characters that really make the novel worth reading too. These include the staff on the magazine, both Lisa's and Ashling's various neighbours and even a few stand up comics thrown in for good measure. They all contribute to a lively and enjoyable read.

        I particularly liked the way that the story was set against the backdrop of trying to launch a new magazine and all the trials and headaches that that involved. I was almost living the tension as the story evolved. There are also a couple of more serious issues touched upon - those of homelessness and depression - and these are both treated in a sensitive way. Both themes are quite integral to some of the storylines though so it is important that they are there.

        This feels like a real 'coming to terms' novel. All three of the main characters have issues from their past and as the story reaches its climax, in the main they do come to terms with their pasts and move on as more contented women.

        You might wonder a bit about the title as I certainly did as I was reading. This was especially because sushi was not even mentioned until at least three quarters of the way through. However towards the end it seems to act as quite a strong metaphor for starting afresh and being prepared to give life a try! So in the end it was a very apt title but I was beginning to wonder!

        The paperback is available on Amazon for £4.66.

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          27.08.2009 00:46
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          Read It!

          Sushi For Beginners is a piece of romantic fiction by well-known Irish author Marian Keyes. Since reading another of Keyes novels, "Angels", and being suitably impressed I have been working my way through her other books. The latest title on my list was "Sushi For Beginners," a book whose 560 something pages I devoured in a few short days.

          ~The Plot~
          Sushi For Beginners is, as with many of Marian Keyes' other novels, set in and round Dublin, Ireland. It tracks the lives and loves of three women who call this city home.
          Firstly there is the super chic Lisa who has been sent (unwillingly) to Dublin to edit a new women's magazine called Colleen. Lisa is cool, ambitious and ready to bull doze anyone who stands in the way of her success. Yet underneath this hard and cold outer shell there is a softer personality which has been shaken by the unexpected upheaval to Dublin and the break up of her marriage.
          Next, we have Ashling who is the assistant editor of Colleen. Ashling is a born worrier whose bottomless pit of a handbag contains a solution to every problem. Her current predicament is the lack of suitable men in her life.
          Finally, there is Clodagh, Ashling's best friend and a married mother of two. Though she seems to have it all Clodagh is actually very unhappy, unsatisfied and frustrated with her life. She wants to be needed by someone other than her children and needs to find some excitement.
          Follow these three thirty-somethings as they experience ups and downs. Will the magazine succeed and will all three ladies find the happiness they so desire?

          ~My Opinion~
          Though Sushi For Beginners is undoubtedly chick-lit it is without a doubt one of the best books of its genre I have ever read. The combination of comedy and romance is brilliantly blended leaving us with a novel that is hilarious without coming across as cheesy.

          I found several sections of the book genuinely funny and I love Marian Keyes' sense of humour. She has a dry wit that gives the work a sense of cynicism without being pessimistic. There are some real laugh out loud moments which I think is very rare in books of this genre.

          The characters develop very well and my opinion/evaluation of them was changing as the story progressed. I think that most girls will be able to see a little of themselves in each of our three protagonists. This allows us to empathise with them and feel what they do whether it be happiness, sadness, anger or general disgust at the behavior of other women.

          The story moved along at a good pace with new and interesting developments occurring all the time. There are enough twists to keep the reader on their toes but not so many that you lose track of what is happening. It never became boring or repetitive and I never felt like putting the book down.

          I also thought that the story was at times very moving and I had very strong feelings towards the characters. In particular in the last few chapters which left me open mouth with shock, shouting, giggling and generally quite giddy. In fact, I'm quite sure that I finished the book with a huge, dopey grin plastered across my face.

          The only possible downside I can think of is that this is definitely only aimed at females. There is little between the covers to interest men as everything is from a woman's perspective and deals with problems familiar to women.

          All in all this is a fantastic read and I'm looking forward to perusing more of Marian Keyes' novels in the future.

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            16.06.2009 23:21
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            Well written comical chick lit

            Despite it being a book which is definitely not targeted at men, I found myself strangely drawn to this comical tale of three women, who are all linked to one another in various ways, each searching for happiness.

            Marian Keyes has a very readable style of writing: this is the sort of book you can read very easily without having to take your time and concentrate too hard. I find it important to find a nice balance of literature, with some easy to read books I can motor through, and then the odd one that really requires my concentration. This was definitely in the former category, and was a nice relief after I had finished Stephen King's saga The Dark Tower.

            Sushi For Beginners is over 500 pages long, but it reads quickly, and thus it feels a lot shorter. The plot gives us three main characters (Lisa, Ashling and Clodagh) who have differing lifestyles. They all live in Dublin, but although they are all essentially different, they each see something they want in the others' lives.

            Keyes takes us through some comedic moments as well as some sad ones as the three of them individually try to make their lives better, while those around them wonder what is going on. I got dragged in, and was eager to find out what was going to happen next, and I find that this is the mark of a good storyteller: someone who makes you want to keep turning the pages.

            In terms of plot, it centres around the three women in Dublin, with perhaps Lisa and Ashling having the most writing time. They both work on brand new magazine, 'Coleen', and we are given the impression that it's not really what either of them initially want. Lisa has lost a boyfriend and a job and finds herself trying to make a new start of sorts. Ashling finds herself bundled off to Dublin from London to launch 'Coleen' instead of getting a high flying New York job. Clodagh, although part of the larger picture, doesn't feature as much as the other two in a way, particularly when the focus is on 'Coleen'. Coldagh is Ashling's friend, and it is perhaps the relationship between these three lead characters that forms the main plot.

            In a way, it's a story of development, of redefining yourself when you feel like things are about to hit rock bottom. The funny thing is, the three of them all have different social and financial standing, and it goes to show that financial status or family life doesn't necessarily provide a cure for being down on your luck, or feeling that nothing is going right for you. As these three find their love lives, professional lives and their own self confidence seeing big changes, it is up to us as the readers to pursue the task to find out if they all achieve the happiness they crave so much.

            The characterisation is very cleverly done, and no doubt the characters are ones that women can associate with and relate to quite easily. I know my wife thinks so, and I am sure there are many 'in-jokes' that I, as a man, may not completely get. Even so, it was an enjoyable read, and one that got me hooked and made me laugh. Sushi For Beginners is readily available in bookshops and on amazon. I borrowed this off my wife's shelf at home, but you can easily get this for under £5 online, and it's well worth the read.

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              18.05.2009 08:32
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              A fantastic book by Marian Keyes.

              'Sushi For Beginners' follows three thirty-something women all living in Dublin, Ireland for various reasons and we find out how their lives are linked and how they can all gel along with each other.

              Lisa Edwards believe that she deserves the best of everything in life and she has to come down to Earth with a big bang when she does not get a promotion that she is expecting at her magazine house and instead gets what she views as a demotion by moving to a new magazine called Colleen which is solely based in Ireland. She is extremely unhappy at the start of the book as she believes that she is better than this crummy new magazine and she wants to be in London partying and receiving free stilettos amongst other things. She is a very fiery character but she keeps her real feelings to herself and sets her sights on getting herself a new man and making the magazine a real success.

              Ashling Kennedy is a constant worrier, after living with her depressed Mother for many years she has developed fantastic defence mechanisms for everything that life could throw at her and she spends most of her time mothering everybody else and ensuring that she has enough equipment in her bag to cover every eventuality. She is quite a shy person on the outside and her real personality is just longing to burst through. She is sick of being a push over with no real friends & no boyfriend and she wants to turn her life around. Ashling works for Lisa at Colleen magazine and she feels that something is missing from her life.

              Clodagh Kelly is Ashling's best friend and on the exterior she has everything that most women want in life; fantastic husband, two gorgeous children & a big, pretty house, however, she is not happy with what she has and has an urge to run off and be reckless.

              Throughout the book all three women are looking for happiness and all seem to want small aspects of what the other women around them have and I think that this is a true reflection of life. I found the story of the characters to be very interesting and I found myself being drawn further and further in to the story and it became a real page turner as I got a few hundred pages in.

              Sushi For Beginners is available from Amazon in paperback form for £5.00 with free delivery.

              Sushi For Beginners is another fantastic Marian Keyes book and one that I would thoroughly recommend. I have suggested it to a few friends now with very positive feedback from them all and reading this has made me want to go out and purchase some more Marian Keyes books (which I have) and for this reason I am rating this book 4/5 as it's a great read and I highly recommend it.

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              22.03.2009 20:32
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              A good bedtime or holiday read!

              I've just finished this book, and I have a few things to mention about it.
              It took me three attempts to read Sushi For Beginners, and to be honest I don't know why! It's not a bad book, but I suppose it takes a while to get into the real crux of the story.

              The characters are hard to like and relate to at first. Ashling is a little pathetic, you feel like giving her a bit of a slap and telling her to get a grip on herself. Lisa is just a complete cow who you want to slap cause she's so annoying and up herself, and needs to take the stick out of her backside. Clodagh has an annoying name which I have no idea how to properly pronounce, and she needs to realise she has a good thing going and open her eyes to her wonderful life with her gorgeous hubby, big bank balance, cute kids, and beautiful house.

              I think this is why it was so difficult to get into the book, I couldn't find anything to like about these women, but the third time I read it, I stuck at it and finally I got it. And enjoyed it.

              The story follows basically the lives of these three women;

              Ashling Kennedy, she has recently broken up with her boyfriend Phelim, and has just lost her job in a magazine due to faking a "tip" and it going very wrong. She's now got a new job at brand new magazine Coleen under her boss, Lisa Edwards.

              Lisa has just been forced to move from London, to Dublin for the launch of a brand new womens magazine Coleen, she already hates it and she's not even left yet. She was hoping for a top job at New York magazine Manhatten, but no, she has been shipped out of her favourite place, to this dump, no shops, no men, no nothing. And she has to start a new magazine from scratch here?! But she has her sights set on her boss Jack Devine, after her marriage to Oliver has broken down due to her been a work-a-holic, she has been looking for another man in her life, and she has decided he will be the one, and she always gets what she wants!

              Clodagh Kelly has it all, the gorgeous and devoted husband Dylan, two adorable kids, and an amazing house, with a bank balace to fit, but she's still not happy. That is until she meets Marcus, a stand up comedian who she ends up having a whirlwind romance, too bad Marcus is her best friends boyfriend.

              The novel follows the girls lives through trial and tribulation, the men come and go, friends come and go, but all the time something is happening in their lives!

              Sushi for Beginners might be difficult for you to get into but I suggest you stick at it, because when you do, the story comes to life infront of you.

              You'll soon find youself routing for them all, well nearly all!!! I must say I came awat from the book thinking that Clodagh is a complete cow and needs a good flaming slap!!!! Lol!

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              08.02.2009 15:43
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              Enjoyable Irish yarn

              Sushi For Beginners is the first book by Marian Keyes that I have read. I am a bit funny about "chick lit" (God someone please invent another moniker) - I will happily read anything that is moderately well written, but if I sense it is trying to sucker punch me with things like deep thought I find it a turn off. For instance, I recently read a book by Fay Weldon. Never having read Weldon either, I was lulled into a false sense of security by the frilly pink cover, only to end up reading a rather disturbing treatise on modern feminism with an ending as harrowing in its own way as Rosemary's Baby. This angered me. I do not like being tricked into deep contemplation. It's like sitting down to a frothy rom-com only to find it's actually a documentary about Rwanda. Am I concerned with deeper issues, yes of course, but escapist, relatively vapid literature is there for a reason. Sophie Kinsella and Helen Fielding are in my opinion excellent at the art.

              And so in the back of my mind I had avoided Marian Keyes. I didn't have a strong reason why, truly not having one idea about her books, but I sensed they were slightly more taxing than your average fun foray. But a friend lent me a few books, and this was one of them.

              Initially this book started off strangely. It had elements of the genre, yes, but from the get go there were some very strong characterisations that made the book stand out as something slightly elevated from the usual froth. There are two central female characters, one being a bit of a dormouse (Ashling), the other a bit of a b-word (Lisa). The writing did grab my attention quite quickly. I didn't float brainlessly into it, which to be honest initially I was a bit perturbed by. I had to concentrate as there was quite a bit going on with several peripheral characters. So I was slow to get into it. I was tired of being taken advantage of by these women posing as chick lit authors, how dare they keep making me use my brain?! But within about 50 pages, I realised that while perhaps more sophisticated in style and treatment of social issues, Marian Keye's writing is also very entertaining.

              As I mentioned there are two central female characters, and as the book progresses while both maintain voices (as well as Ashling's best friend Clodagh), I would say that Ashling is the central character of the piece who connects everyone together. Ashling is a low level admin worker at a frumpy magazine in Dublin who gets what she think will be a glamorous new job at a new high end magazine being edited by Lisa, a Londoner who has basically been shunted into the position, much to her dismay. Their boss is Jack, a grumpy yet of course exceedingly attractive man.

              Ashling's personal and professional life are given pretty equal attention, we are introduced to her two best friends who supply some humour to the mix. Ashling is not charmingly comical like Bridget Jones, but she does have a few quirks that elevate her shy, compliant character, and as the story progresses her confidence grows in a believable way. The reader sees that she is making mistakes romantically but Keyes holds back enough to spring a few surprises along the way.

              Lisa is quite unsympathetic in her ill treatment of everyone around her, and yet slowly her fish out of water story does reveal there is more to her than meets the eye. All of the character's family backgrounds are addressed and largely attributed to them becoming the people they have, as well as allowing them to realise the changes they need to make to improve their lives.

              The two women are of course in complete contrast to one another, but Keyes keeps the mix interesting by throwing in a few twists in unexpected places. The romance is kept light and bubbly in Ashling's case, with her having a few diversions from what is fairly obviously her fate - still, Keyes suspends this long enough to make it thoroughly satisfying. These characters have to endure real heartache to get their happy endings, and not all of them do. The grounding of this book is very steady - Lisa's ongoing divorce is treated with great subtlety I thought, we see the character going down roads that are obviously leading nowhere but lend the book further depth.

              At five hundred pages long it is a wee bit on the hefty side I thought. Perhaps a few little things here and there could have been left out to make it a bit breezier to read. That said, once I got into it it was hard to put down. There were a few hokey sub plots, but given the relative darkness of some aspects of the book I did think they gave it a feel good factor that it might have suffered without. The storyline of getting the magazine up and running keeps the book ticking along nicely, I thought Keyes did a particularly good job of portraying both the work and play aspects of the character's lives. Her portrait of Dublin was a nice backdrop for things as well.

              Also, having never read Keyes before I was a tiny bit jarred at her relatively risqué take on sex scenes for the genre. While not exactly Harold Robbins, they are far earthier than some and the grand finale so to speak was by far the most explicit of the lot! It didn't bother me, they were well done in their way, it was just a tiny bit over the top for me if I'm honest in this sort of book. Obviously Keyes is a writer who, while falling into a certain genre, also strays outside the boundaries of what is expected of her.

              At any rate, I really enjoyed the multi-layered character interactions in this book and the surprise twists enough to certainly head for Marian Keyes the next time I pass a bookshelf. She is a very compelling and sympathetic writer in a sea of often bland chick lit. I know it won't be complete candy floss, but it will be fun nonetheless!

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                10.01.2009 16:49
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                Go for it if you fancy some humour and an easy read

                Something attracted me to this book and it was quickly obvious what it was - the title. How many books look interesting that include Sushi in their name? Well this one was definitely one of those and i wasn't let down in any way!

                ~~The Plot~~

                The book is set in Dublin and mainly focuses on three women and their lives. There are other characters that play a part, but they are the essence of the book and what keeps you gripped from the minute you pick it up, from the minute you finish.

                It starts with Lisa, the successful career girl with Femme magazine that everyone hates. She's looking forward to the news that she'll be transferred to New York but she's in for a shock. They don't want her in New York but Dublin! She has to move from her high powered job in London to set up a tiny magazine, with a tiny budget, in a tiny Dublin. Having just split from her partner, Lisa sets out to Dublin and immediately manages to upset the new staff and alienate herself. Her work is fantastic but Lisa soon has a realisation that will change her life...

                Ashling is on the hunt for a new job after being sacked from her previous job for making one mistake. Her confidence hits rock bottom but she lands a new job. Branded "miss fix it", Ashling carries everything around with her that you could ever possibly need. Can she carry on her life like this or will something happen to change it?

                Cloudagh is Ashling's best friend with a history of stealing her men. She's now married to Dylan with two kids but never seems to be happy, despite him putting up with any behaviour that she throws at him. Cloudagh has wondering eyes and it's not long before she's upto her old behaviour again, but who is it that suffers and what are the consequences?

                All three women are on the verge of a nervous breakdown, the question is, who snaps first? There will be endless consequences for actions and all three women will be shown for exactly who they are.

                ~~My opinion~~

                When i first realised that this book would jump between three women and their lives, i was very sceptical. These types of books are usually very confusing and you end up getting mixed up between the characters. This wasn't the case thanks to a very clever style of writing by Mariam Keyes. She manages it in such a way that there is a clear view of which character you are seeing and why. By examining their lives, past and present, Keyes gave me an extremely clear view of how each character came to be who they are today.

                The reason i probably enjoyed the book as much as i did? The humour! Although she is covering some serious issues, the humour is linked into the title as Sushi. How can Sushi be the answer to someones life? This isn't the only humour, but it does form a solution for one of the characters that helps them decide where their life should go.

                This book kept me gripped throughout as you watched each woman strive to achieve what they wanted in life. You could clearly see each others point of view and the mistakes they were about to make, but without these mistakes, the book wouldn't have shown their true characters.

                It is full of plot twists but i did manage to guess part of the ending half way through the book, but with a happy ending, that's usually very predictable in every book.

                ~~My verdict~~

                A must buy for anyone with a sense of fun and a sense of humour. This is definitely a chicks book though so don't expect a man to enjoy it. I've probably not described it enough to do it justice, but you really can't say just how good you found a book without giving some of the story away and i didn't want to do that.

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                  15.08.2007 23:30
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                  Lisa, Ashling and Clodagh are about to show you their lives

                  Having received this book free with a magazine recently, I decided to read it at home rather than at work (most of my work reading has been less girly type books). Since it was free on a magazine it is printed on thin paper with a smaller than usual typeset, which makes it hard to read if like me you happen to have been *mildly* inebriated!

                  The story is fairly typical of Marian Keyes work, it focusses on three women who have vastly different lives.

                  Lisa is a magazine editor in London who is hoping for a job in New York but her world which felt safe gets thrown in to turmoil when she is told that she isnt going to New York but to Dublin instead to start up a new womens magazine there, far from the dizzy heights she thought she was destined for.

                  Ashling has been fired from her previous magazine but they have allowed her to continue working for them until she finds a new job. As the assistant hired to help Lisa start up the magazine she suddenly has a high pressure job and new lifestyle also.

                  Clodagh, is a mother and wife but is bored, she envys Ashling her work and whole lifestyle as she feels she has stagnated, she not even sure about her feelings for her husband any more.

                  The plot of the book is very much fairly typical chick lit, but the way these three womens lives are interlinked shows how appearences can be deceiving. Overall all three main characters are well written and do feel quite real, the situations also are more realistic than can be found in many of this type of book. Although the ending is more than predicatable right from the beginning it is an enjoyable journey to get your suspicions confirmed.

                  Despite my usual avoidance of chick lit I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it is alittle deeper than the usual 'am I pretty enough' etcetc plot line, the office setting lets you see what the work is really like and the other characters who work with the leads though they are very shallowly drawn they fulfill the roles they are set very well.

                  It will cost between £6 and 1p on amazon, and can be found in many charity shops (does anyone ever keep this type of book?). Personally its not one I would usually pick up but have been pleasantly surprised by, I will be more likely to buy other books by Marian Keyes in future. At 576 pages long (according to amazon my copy is 401 pages in length) it is on the long side but doesnt feel overly long.

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                    16.09.2002 20:58
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                    • "Annoying characters"

                    Complete happiness is hard to find - especially when you are one of the three characters in 'Sushi For Beginners'. The novel revolves around three thirty-something women who are living a life which is far from what they wanted. Lisa the Londoner has just been appointed editor of a new Irish 'dumbed down but definitely sexy' magazine Colleen, so why is she unhappy? Because rainy Dublin comes a very sombre second place to jetting off in her Patrick Cox stilettos and Gucci clad model figure to be editor of flashy mag Manhattan in New York – where everybody looks at their food rather than eat it. Now she has to cope with an open plan office and the Irish version of Marks and Spencer. How tacky. But any man she wants, she gets, and MD Jack 'oh-so' Devine WILL be her consolation prize. Ashling, 'Little Miss Fix It' and Lisa's deputy, wants her best friend Clodagh's life. It is her dream to cuddle up to a gorgeous husband while the kids are tucked in bed, but the journey to finding Mr Right is, very predictably, rocky. With her personality summed up by the products spilling out of her handbag and waist-less figure, she constantly feels like the world is against her – especially when her new boss is out to put her down. She struggles to find the life she always wanted. But she'll get there in the end. Won't she? Clodagh has the 'perfect' life- married to her gorgeous husband Dylan with two cute (although extremely annoying) children, Molly and Craig; and living in a lovely house in a nice area of Dublin. In fact, her husband makes so much money, she doesn't need a job. With the kids in playgroup or at a sitter’s, she is free to shop till she drops, or, well, pretty much anything she wants. Bliss. Or is it? What is so intriguing about this novel is the fact that the minute you think you know the characters so well, you learn something new that changes your whol
                    e perspective of them. You get the feeling that Lisa was brought up destined to be a high-flying business-woman, complete with a gorgeous figure and a gorgeous man. She's certainly not popular with her colleagues, but it's business right? Who cares when you’re the one getting to the Patrick Cox freebies first? A girl's gotta look good, even if wearing them is agony because they are a size too small. But lurking beneath that exterior is a secret lifestyle, one that she has been too embarrassed to succumb to, or admit for years. Ashling comes across as a goodie-two-shoes, offering her colleagues plasters, paracetamol and spare tights whenever they need them. She has the type of personality that screams 'walk all over me', and people do. Until a brush with her mother's past gives her a role reversal. Clodagh is definitely strong-willed and strong-minded, she seems a good wife, and friend. But there are certain things to avoid if you want to find happiness. The plot is, well, there isn't really a plot. It's just life. And there is one thing that life usually isn't - predictable. Annoyingly, this novel is a little bit predictable with two of the main characters. But that doesn't mean that it is not a good read. Whenever I had a spare ten minutes I'd pick up the book, but was slightly disappointed. However, a major twist meant that I'd more than likely keep turning the pages. What is spot on though is that happiness is found sometimes in the most unlikely of places, and sometimes easily lost forever. Sushi For Beginners captures this perfectly. The basic story follows the creation of Colleen from first crappy ideas to it's launch party several months later, intertwining the lives of the three women and their friends (or lack of, in Lisa's case,) along the way. I must warn you that the characters get extremely annoying at times, even at some of the comical points in the story. For me, this nove
                    l went against what everybody said about it being a hilarious non-stop-laugh, I felt it was pretty serious all the way through. Don't get me wrong - I did laugh, just not half as much as I expected to having read the critics opinions. Even the bit where Clodagh tells Molly that Barney died was a tad annoying - I just wanted to strangle Clodagh and tell her she’s such a bad mother! The children are extremely annoying - and it's so obviously Clodagh's fault - but in all fairness, she is bored rigid with her life. Lisa is so cold and harsh – but it isn’t really her true personality, which only comes out at the end. It is a good twist to change the character’s personality, but she was so annoying in the first place, I couldn’t have cared less. It is clear who Ashling’s heart would eventually lie with – this could have been made far less predictable, and I felt that Lisa could have done with a bit of a comeuppance during the book, as she is such a hate-able character. Having read 'Lucy Sullivan...', I was hoping that the subject of depression wouldn't come up in this book - as it happens, it made me quite depressed in that novel - but it did. Not that I hate the idea of depression being used, it's just not for me. As for the other characters in the book, I felt that they were a bit of a rushed job – like I didn’t know them at all. Less prominent characters like Trix and Boring Bernard do make up quite a lot of the humour in the novel – Trix is common as muck, and Bernard is the granddad of the office – for example when the office is discussing a rather psychotic fashion designer: ‘A schizoid slapper,’ Trix threw in. ‘And a right skinnymalinks,’ said boring Bernard, who had no idea what she looked like but who liked a good bitch as much as the next mummy’s boy. ‘There’d be more meat on a tinker’s stick after a good row.
                    ’ Trix looked at him scornfully. ‘That’s a compliment, you gobshite. You haven’t a clue!’ This captures the women’s thoughts perfectly – to be called skinny is a compliment in the celeb-studded world they are in. But isn't this a bit too trite? I found the setting for the novel interesting (I would love to write for a magazine), but don’t expect too much detail on this – I felt that it was slightly rushed, Colleen seemed to be an excuse of a situation to put the characters in. However, all in all, this is an easy going read. It didn’t throw me in any way, but I have got 'Rachel’s Holiday' and 'Last Chance Saloon’ to read yet – but only because my mother keeps buying them for me! I would recommend it for those lazy Sunday’s.

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                      31.01.2002 14:05
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                      • "no real 'meat' to it"

                      ‘Laden with plot twists, jokey asides and nicely turned bits of zeitgeisty observational humour’ states a journalist from the Guardian, who had obviously woken with a bad hangover and realised in horror that he had forgotten to read the book for a review with a fast approaching deadline and then had to make up something plausible which would satisfy his editor. In fact, perusing the comments on the book’s cover makes me wonder whether any of the reviewers actually read it. ‘Hilarious’? (Mail on Sunday) – No! ‘A real page turner’? (Sunday Express) – No! ‘The hottest young female writer in Britain’? (Mirror) – Well, not basing your opinion solely on this book. The book is nothing more than an extended Mills and Boon novel. It has the same storylines, the same ludicrous plot twists, the same unbelieveable characters, the same utterly predictable outcomes and the same understated sex scenes (you know the ones – involving ‘his hardness’ and the ‘fluid dance’ of sex). THE STORY The book is set in Dublin and centres around the office of a women’s magazine, Colleen, which is about to be launched on an unsuspecting public, and the characters who work in that office and their love lives. I could tell you more about the plots but as soon as you have read about 40 pages into the book you will have guessed them all for yourself anyway. Let me give some of the scenarios and you can guess the outcomes (answers on a postcard please): 1. Moody and ‘stand-offish’ male boss dislikes the seemingly soft, nice, kind assistant editor. But does he really dislike her? 2. Ultra-bitch female editor moves to Dublin from trendy London. Will the friendly city and its people tame her wild nature? 3. Male dippy friend of our heroine can’t get a girlfriend. He becomes an amateur stand up comic. Will thi
                      s give him the confidence he needs? THE CHARACTERS Ashling: most of the book is seen through her eyes. She is the Assistant Editor of the magazine. She is organised, nice, kind, caring and put upon by colleagues and friends. During the book she suffers a nervous breakdown but, never fear, in the Mills and Boonesque world of Marian Keyes, within a few weeks of pill popping she is right as rain. She gets her man (eventually) and her happy ending. Lisa: the bitchy Editor. She is vitriolic to everyone and universally hated. She is cool, trendy and selfish. Ludicrously in the course of the book she has a personality transplant and by the end is even being kind to children. To be honest, I preferred the book while she was still being a super bitch. Clodagh: married-with-two-kids friend of Ashling. She is frustrated by her marriage and her lack of freedom. However, she is essentially nice until Keyes gives another of her characters a schizophrenic twist and she betrays both husband and friend. Jack: Managaing Director of publishing company. Dark, brooding, nasty boos, who by the end of the book is mysteriously buying sushi for his employees and tolerating piss ups in the office. What drugs has he been taking and where can I get some? LEAVE IT ON THE SHELF The stories have all been done before, just because you locate it in a magazine publisher’s office doesn’t give it originality. The characters are so familiar from trashy romance novels, as are the predictably happy endings. Nothing about the book is original and how Keyes managed to drag it on for over 500 pages is beyond me. She may enjoy writing this well worn tripe but I don’t enjoy reading it. In retrospect I wouldn’t be surprised if the manuscript was actually turned down by Mills and Boon.

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                        09.10.2001 02:43
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                        Set in modern day S. Ireland, this novel explores a period in the lives of 3 women who become inextricably linked. Lisa is used to living the high life as editor of Femme magazine in London. It comes as a shock when the new job she's been hoping for involves moving to Ireland and starting from scratch. All of a sudden she realises she isn't as hard as she thought. Ashling has her own flat, a good job and plenty of friends - all she really wants is a man. However, people are not always what they seem. Outwardly Clodagh seems to have it all with a fantastic husband and 2 gorgeous children. However, she yearns for excitement and almost ends up losing everything. A tale that shows that life rarely turns out the way you plan it but is usually what you make it. A great holiday read.

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                          06.09.2001 21:29
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                          How do I review this book? Are you shocked to see me reading this? Well not as shocked as I was to read it, originally I ordered this for my other half, Lorraine, not Geoffrey the mad mohican giraffe, but I wanted an easy read and the cover was appealing and I was feeling poorly and OK I read a woman’s romantic popular fiction book. Anybody, wishing to shoot me may make postal applications, c/o, Men gone sad, PO Box 231, Slushville. I jest and I must stop being a book snob, popular fiction is entertainment much in the same form as some of Hollywood’s films are, there is nothing wrong with it, better to read this, rather than nothing at all. Marian Keyes, is Irish and hot property, apparently according to the Daily Mirror she is one of the hottest female authors around, her books hit the top of the best-seller list and before Sushi for Beginners, her book Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married was a best seller. She writes romantic fiction, aimed at the young female audience, not the fast approaching middle age male audience. Sushi for Beginners is set in the frantic world of magazine publishing, Lisa a glamorous career woman and successful magazine editor, is assigned to the backwater of Dublin to set up a new women’s magazine, Colleen. This to Lisa is rather an appalling prospect; she is a media luvie, New York, Paris, London any of those locations would be fine, acceptable to her view of where the “correct” place to work, is, but Dublin! In her view, Dublin is a backwater a horrible little city, with no credibility, poor bars, poor style….are you getting the picture, Lisa is one of the people I hate in life, concerned with image, shallow things, such as the right clothes, the right décor, rather than anything that really matters, such as whether you are happy with what you are doing. To Lisa what other people think of her is vital, not whether she is happy. She is hard nosed, driven and determined to succ
                          eed at whatever she does. So Lisa strops off to Dublin and embarks on the production of this new magazine. Assigned to be her deputy editor is Ashling, straight laced, pretty but not glamorous and somebody who does not quite grasp the cut and thrust involved in magazine politics. Ashling worries about everything, having not quite mentally recovered from the responsibility of having to look after her younger siblings following her mother’s nervous breakdown. Her own life seems precariously balanced as she struggles with the new job and searches for a new boyfriend. Her evenings out suddenly revolve around comedy nights as her neighbour, Ted, embarks on a stand-up career in order to snag women. (Does the book seem shallow yet?) Ashling’s best friend is Clodagh, mother of two, beautiful and married to her handsome husband, Dylan, who was at one time Ashling’s boyfriend. For Clodagh, life has been a breeze, she always got the men, has a beautiful house, two beautiful children a successful husband, in fact on the outside Clodagh seems to be the perfect lady that lunches, but on the inside Clodagh is unhappy, she hates her life, she is not in love with her husband and the strains of motherhood are pushing her to the edge. The plot line switches between these three women as they all search for happiness, every one of the characters is miserable at some level and every one is going through a major life-altering period. For two of them, the boss of Randolph Media (the company about to publish Colleen) Jack Devine, may provide the answer, handsome, eligible and desperately in need of mothering he becomes somewhat of a romantic challenge. He views Ashling with amusement calling her “Little Miss Fix-it” and sees Lisa as a hard-nosed and intimidating woman, but is there a sense of attraction to both? As the deadline for the first issue looms all three women’s lives seem to be coming apart, men play havoc wit
                          h their emotions and emotions that have been suppressed and blocked out, suddenly explode to the fore. The book is clear romantic fiction, as boyfriends and husbands come and go and true romance rears its head. This is true romance in the mills and boon style, not the real life style! Keyes writes in the traditional style associated with this type of book, fast paced, moving the plot along quickly in a sharp and concise manner. Descriptions of character and long lingering sentences are left under the bed and Sushi for Beginners is one of those page-turners that fly by and can be read with a single brain cell. However, it is redeemed in some ways as the book analyses the problems of homelessness, the horror that is depression and in a way pokes fun at and parodies the way that these glam magazines are run. It is a book about the search for contentment and the problems that this can cause, would you put your own contentment ahead of hurting your children, husband and friends? However the book is punctuated with witty moments and I even chuckled a couple of times. A further redeeming feature is the research that Keyes undertook for this novel, she spent time at the Irish Tatler to try and understand the media world, she spent time analysing the Irish stand up scene and talked extensively with the homeless charities. This may mean that some of the storylines may not be as entrenched in the traditional dream world that romantic fiction books seem to occupy, but there is certainly a great deal of artistic licence taken. You may be reading this saying, you know what you get when you pick up one of these books, so why criticise it for being what it is? True and as the style of books go, it is one of the deeper of its genre (that is not saying that it will provoke any severe thought!) It is pure entertainment, it is popular fiction, it is trashy, but it is fun. I kind of enjoyed it, but I like more depth in my books, it is what it
                          is, if you like romantic fiction and there is nothing wrong with that, this seems a good example (I had a period in my romantic teens, when this genre of book appealed) and Sushi for Beginners will provide the reader with fun, without stretching the grey matter. Oh and are you wondering why the title is Sushi for Beginners, well it is kind of ironic, a ribbing at the Irish desire not to try the new and stay with the old, nobody in the Colleen office will touch Sushi, it is too strange, it is yuck, ahh but they do and it is used as a kind of imagery to see out the old and make that fresh start. As this book doesn’t float my boat I will not recommend it to a friend, but if you like this genre of book, I think you will like this. Naturally, Geoffrey hated this book, he was disgusted at the romance, but what did you expect? Sushi for Beginners is published in paperback by penguin, is 564 pages long and costs £6.99. Oh and for your entertainment, here is a quote to illustrate the shallowness of it all: "There was no way her flimsy grosgain-ribbon sandals would survive the short walk along the quays - they barely held it together as she strolled around the office. Not that Lisa resented their being so impractical - some shoes exist just to display a fierce, short lived burst of beauty. Why else did God exist taxis?" Oh woo is me, who the fluck cares. Oh and Grosgain Ribbon what the hell is that. Another one: "Half an hour before the off she took herself to the ladies' to ensure she looked her very, very best. What a stroke of luck she'd worn her lavender Press and Bastyan suit today. Although if it hadn't been that suit it would have been something equally glam. As a magazine editor, you never knew when you might be called upon to be fabulous." Umm, there are people starving in the world you know, perspective please.

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                            03.09.2001 05:26
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                            This is an enjoyable, addictive book with only the briefest of appearances by a bowl of sushi! The story is about the lives of three women and a fledgling magazine. This doesn't sound that great in itself. The great part is the way that Marian Keyes builds up these characters giving them personalities, dilemmas and life choices until you feel that they could be people you know and like or dislike. Colleen, is a trendy new Dublin magazine that needs a dynamic editor to launch it into orbit. Lisa Edwards is editor of Femme, based in London. Some would say that she is a bitch, mostly those who work for her. She's a ruthless workaholic, expert in bitchy put downs, stealing other people's ideas, strategic charm and putting a lot of work into her stunning appearance. To her shock she is seconded to be editor of Colleen. Lisa's world crahses in she feels she is being sent to the 'magazine version of Siberia''. After all her sacrifices and hard work she expects to be made deputy editor of Manhattan in New York. Lisa goes off to Ireland confused at the unfamiliarity of her plans not working out. Ashling Kennedy is Lisa's new deputy editor. She lacks self esteem, is natural looking to the point of dowdiness, pleasant and has a need to be liked by others. Her previous job was at a magazine that was full of thrifty tips involving lemon juice, made up letters from priests and cute stories about reader's grandchildren. Cosmopolitan like Colleen is a culture shock for her and working for superbitch Lisa will either toughen her up or turn her into a gibbering wreck. Clodagh Kelly, Ashling's friend, has a loving husband, two adorable children, a great house and no money worries. But she is bored and depressed. She loves her children but feels there must be more to life than coffee mornings, barney videos and being a taxi service. Clodagh is not quite sure what she is looking for. She
                            constantly redecorates and feels bored once the decorating is finished. She envies Ashling's freedom and privacy, but when she has spells of freedom and privacy she feels guilty and misses her kids. Each of them has to face up to themselves during the course of the book. Lisa confronts her vunreble side as she deals with her upcoming divorce and change in career circumstances. Ashling tries to come to terms with her childhood and develop assertiveness. Clodagh tries to put sparkle back into her life with disastrous results that bring her face to face with the spoilt, unpleasant side of her personality. Jack Devine, managing director of the Ireland branch of Colleen's publishing house, and Marcus, a comedian feature in the lives of the three women. They bring confusion, false starts, flirtations, ill advised affairs and an unexpected happy ending for one of the ladies. This book is in Marion Keyes's usual light style and has a humorous look at the superficial side of the fashion and magazine world. For example, the very serious lady from a make up house who talks earnestly of the difference between this season's shimmery eye shadow and last season's shimmering eye shadow. An entertaining book with a keen eye for the way people react to each other and the hidden layers of different people's personalities.

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                              16.08.2001 23:15
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                              Marian Keyes. What does this woman say to you? Well, she's Irish. And her books have been hugely successful - and not just because of the jaunty cover designs. She has very long hair - and judging by her photo, she may well have been a goth in a previous incarnation. But what of her writing? Well, she had a big hit with Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married - and doesn't seem to have taken a break since. All of her books have strong Irish female leads, and positively Dickensian supporting casts. The humour is ribald, the situations slightly improbable but amusing nonetheless - basically, this is top quality 'chick lit'. And in my opinion, it leaves Bridget Jones and her self obsessed chums gasping on the starting blocks. Sushi for Beginners is the latest from this Blarney-blessed wee Irish genius - and it's received top reviews from all sections of the press. But why? Surely not the picture of raw fish on the cover? Noooo - what makes this book a hit is it's heart warming mixture of humour, wit, fantasy, harsh reality - and all-out Irishness. This book claims to be all about the lives of three very different women living in Dublin. It isn't. It's about one woman living in Dublin, some close friends, one enemy who becomes likeable, and one soul mate who becomes your worst nightmare. All of this is hung loosely on the story of the launch of a new magazine aimed at Irish women - 'Colleen', heh heh! (sample of other Irish titles from the same publishing house: Gaelic Knitting, Hibernian Bride - and of course a food magazine - Spud) Our heroine is Ashling - your basic Marian Keyes thirty-something 'everygirl'. She's single, but doesn't appear to be too gutted about it. She's no supermodel, but is reasonably happy with her looks. She's good at her job, but cheerfully admits she'll never be more than second in command. Sh
                              e claims to have no waist - but finds this amusing more than anything else. Thank God! Although Ashling is there to take us on a fairly predictable 'rags to riches' ride - there's a lot more to her than your usual chick lit princess. She's wickedly funny, for a start. Honestly - the one liners in this book will have you grinning across your face from page one. She smokes, she swears, she watches 'The Dukes of Hazzard' and she changes her sheets once a month if you're lucky. And she has a nice little cast of friends. OOPS! Did somebody say - Cast of Friends? Nooo - don't get me wrong. This is no airbrushed, flat-sharing fantasy featuring girls with poker-straight hair. Not a bit of it. These pals - Ted and Joy - are painfully imperfect. Ted wants to be a stand up comedian, in the hope he'll get a girlfriend. And Joy sleeps with pretty much anything that isn't nailed down - and then denounces her critics as 'the dog calling the cat's arse hairy'. Hurrah! The other two 'central characters' in this book are really just supporting females: Lisa is a hard faced bitch - groomed to perfection and determined to claw her way to the top of the publishing world. We are meant to grow to like her as we see her more vulnerable side - but sadly, she just didn't do it for me. And her 'relationship' hassles seemed too contrived to be real. Clodagh is Ashlings settled, married friend. And can I just say - this book is worth the cover price alone for the bold and honest way it portrays the frustrations of motherhood. Jeez! remind me never to have kids - hearty congrats to Ms Keyes for daring to show the boredom, the hard work, the frustration and the sheer exhaustion that mums go through. With no safety net - no 'lullaby scene', no misty eyes. Just sleepless nights and vomit. Damn! She's good. I think we are meant to envy Clodagh her
                              handsome hubby, her lovely home and her all round 'settledness'. But to be honest, I didn't and I doubt you would either. It just doesn't look that great. However, Clodagh does provide us with many priceless moments - the drunken arse she makes of herself on a rare night out sticks in the mind! But best of all from Clodagh is *the* single, most true and funny description of 'married sex' I've ever read. It's so real it's painful. I winced, I cringed, I laughed. (page 262, you pervs!) As for the magazine - well, prepare to actually *laugh* at some genuine, hilarious office banter. Those mag hags know how to dish it out - but you're never far away from a grim reminder of reality. Again, this is no airbrushed fantasy - it's all too real. And for those of us who buy these 'glossies', it's a stunning insight into how they're produced. You'll never see Marie Claire in the same light again... Another thing you will find in this book that is a rarity in the genre is some very sensitive handling of some pretty deep subjects. Keyes has dealt with drug and alcohol abuse in the past, and here she goes into some depth on depression, and homelessness. Nooo, it's not depressing. It's *real*, and it adds to the book - simply by making the characters that bit more believable. OK, the happy ending for the homeless guy belongs in a 'Peoples Friend' story, but at least it's there, for us to think about. The boy/girl relationship stuff is handled with such wit and originality you'd *swear* you'd never been down this road in a novel before. Joy is the princess of one night stands - Ashling wants true love, but'll settle for a drunken ride if that's what's on offer. The men, sadly, are a bit weak - but then this is a book for women so who cares. Ashlings descriptions of her new and growing relationship will ring so true with you chic
                              ks out there you'll be checking Ms Keyes hasn't nicked your diary! And get this - this book is actually set in Dublin. Yup. NOT London. Keyes makes no concessions to her non-Irish readers - you will hear new expressions, with no explanations given. You will hear about places, pubs and people that only exist in Dublin. You will hear some of the world's best, most creative uses of the words 'arse' 'fuck' and 'shite', indeed you may at times wonder if you've stumbled into the Irish swearing championships by mistake. What a breath of fresh air after gazillions of sanitised tales of London office life. Good on ya, girl. And for observational comedy - this writer leads the field. Who else has the guts to come right out and say that Hershey's chocolate tastes like sick? And if you don't identify with Ashling on one of her 'duty visits' home to her parents in the suburbs - pork chops and all - then you've had a lucky upbringing! Ok, so I loved this book. It's long, it's funny, it's warm. It kept me occupied throughout two long flights and three days of sunbathing. So what's wrong with it? Well, the ending sucks. In fact, the whole book seems to lose pace in the final quarter. Which is weird, as this is when the only real 'plot twist' kicks in. It seems as though Ms Keyes is more comfortable writing in leisurely fashion when there's only routine action going on. Then, when the plot hots up, she starts skipping through the weeks like the mad march hare. WHY? It seems a shame. I really don't want to say too much about the ending because I do hope you are all going to read this book - but I'd be interested to hear what others think. I thought it was all just too easy - almost as if she had got tired writing, and just tied it up as quickly as she could. Right, enough moaning. This book is an escapist fantasy anyw
                              ay - who am I to pick and whinge. To sum up: Buy this book. Phone in sick. Laugh like a drain all day - stay up all night, reading til your eyes hurt. Believe me - you'll be a better person for it. Signed - the Cats Arse.

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                            • Product Details

                              Set in Dublin, this tale tells of three thirtysomething girls and their search for hapiness.