The disengagement ring by Clodagh Murphy
Let me start by saying that I loved this book. From the moment I set eyes on the title - The disengagement ring I knew that this would be something that I wanted to read and I certainly wasn't disappointed.
Kate O'Neill is ready to settle down, so when her commitment-phobic boyfriend Brian asks her to marry him, she accepts. Though she knows her close-knit family aren't fond of Brian, she feels sure they'll come round once they get to know him better.
But Kate's eccentric mother, Grace, is determined to prevent Kate from making the biggest mistake of her life. She hatches a plot to scupper the engagement, urging the whole family to do everything in their power to encourage a break-up. She even ropes in Will Sargent, manager of ultra cool rock band Walking Wounded, and unrequited love of Kate's life, in the hope that she can lure Kate away from Brian.
Reluctantly Will offers Kate a job as chef for Walking Wounded, and whisks her off to Tuscany for the summer, where they are working on their new album. As temperatures in the kitchen begin to heat up, will Kate's feelings for Will be rekindled - or will she decide Brian really is the man for her?
If there's no ring, it's all to play for...
Kate O'Neil makes a great central character and was someone that I immediately warmed to, she was likable and far from perfect. Kate was a struggling chef, living with her best friend and in a relationship that wasn't entirely happy with a man that her family all hated. However, it was clear that her family never wanted to hurt Kate, but just that they thought she deserved better than Brian and I had to agree.
As well as Kate there were quite a few other characters in the book, such as Kate's mother and brother and best friend that I also instantly loved. They all seemed so real and the experience of a large (and slightly eccentric) family was expertly captured. Although the premise of the book was a bit of a stretch to believe something like that would happen in everyday life you could believe it of Grace O'Neil, Kate's mother - 'We're her family. It's our duty to interfere.' And with that attitude, her mum doesn't half interfere in Kate's life.
Clodagh manages to jam pack this book with some likeable and some not so likeable characters. I did have a moment at the beginning where I got a little confused over all the characters and changing viewpoints, most of which were introduced at Rachael's (Kate's sister) very busy, very big wedding. But that might have been the fact that I was trying to read this when we had just bought a toy poodle puppy home to live with us, admittedly my attention might have been slightly divided. However, as soon as the story picked up this wasn't a problem for me and although there was a lot going on in the book, as well as a good array of characters, it didn't feel overcrowded. In fact, I loved some of the smaller romances that were going on in the backdrop to Kate's life as much as I loved the main plot.
There are some very steamy moments in the book as well as some real romantic gestures and I just loved the slightly over the top ending, which of course I am not going to ruin for you. Throughout the book, I really enjoyed Clodagh's light hearted and funny writing style, the story just seemed to flow effortlessly. Although the ending of the book was predictable (but in the chick lit genre it's hard not to be), it never once spoilt my enjoyment of the story. There were ups and downs, misunderstandings and bad timings galore in this book. By the time that the story was coming to an end I had a smile on my face and my fingers crossed rooting for everything to work out how I desperately hoped that it would.
I loved this book from the first page right through until the very last word. I really couldn't put it down when I started, it has definitely been one of the best chick lit novels I have read in a while and Clodagh Murphy is now one of my favourite authors. Personally, I can't wait to read her next book 'Girl in a spin' and hopefully she is hard at work on a third!
Although I think that both the covers for this book look nice I LOVE the paperback cover, it fits the book perfectly. I also like the hardback cover and it does have a strong connection to the book but it just doesn't stand out as much for me.
This come very highly recommended, especially if you want a witty, funny and thoroughly entertaining summer or rainy day read. This is definitely one book that is good enough to make it into the select few that I will re-read.
Five out of five stars!
Published by Hachette Books Ireland (5th March 2009)
Paperback edition 355 pages (but it uses quite a small font)
The disengagement ring was Clodagh's first novel and since then she has also released 'Girl in a spin' which is already sitting patiently waiting for my attention on my bookcase.
Kate O'Neill wants to settle down and have a family, so when her tree-hugging boyfriend Brian finally asks her to marry him, she says yes. She doesn't even mind the fact there's no ring to go with his proposal. Kate's family, however, have other ideas and her mother Grace and sister Rachel set about sabotaging the engagement. Their plan is to have Kate spend the summer in Tuscany with Will, the love of Kate's life, in a bid to show Kate what she could have if she broke up with the tree-hugger. As Kate, Will and Walking Wounded (the band Will manages), head off to Tuscany, will Kate see that settling for second best isn't what she wants and that it's Will who truly is the love of her life?
The Disengagement Ring is Clodagh Murphy's debut novel and is one I've been looking forward to reading for a while now. I loved the sound, cover and title of the book and couldn't wait to finally get my hands on it. Imagine my surprise when Clodagh offered me the chance to read it - I was thrilled and couldn't wait for it to arrive. I started it a few days after it arrived and I was immediately sucked in.
The Disengagement Ring has a rather fantastic yet devious plot and that was what immediately had me hooked on the book. It helped, of course, that right from the off I felt that Brian was all wrong for Kate. I truly couldn't stand him. When Grace, Kate's mother, and Rachel, Kate's sister, hatch the plan to have Will flirt with Kate in a bid to break Kate and Brian up, I was all for it. I knew it was devious, but I also felt that, actually, Grace was only acting in Kate's best interests. I can't say what Rachel's motives were and I didn't particularly like her either as she seemed very vindictive. The plot kept me hooked throughout and I genuinely had no idea how the book would end. Just as I thought we were heading to one conclusion, something happened which made it swing completely the other way.
While Kate is seemingly the main focus of the book, the book also focuses on family life and, for me, that was another factor in my enjoyment of the book. Most of the time when I'm reading chick lit, the heroines don't have particularly close relationships with their family whereas the O'Neill's are practically in each others pockets all of the time. They're a huge clan but they all seem to have time for each other. The bit that touched me most about the O'Neill clan was about how welcoming they were to Will when he ran away from his father. That summed the O'Neill's up for me: anybody who wanted to be part of their family would be welcomed. The main reason they didn't like Brian was because he didn't seem to want to be a part of their family. I'd go as far to say that he wanted Kate away from them and the family obviously sensed that and didn't take it well hence the plot.
Bar the obvious characters who were only there to be disliked, I loved every single character throughout the book. Kate was a fantastic central figure to the book and she seemed very determined about what she wanted whenever she wanted it. I warmed to her immediately and really cared about how everything would work out for her. I loved the O'Neill clan and in particular, Grace, the matriarch of the family. Grace wasn't afraid to voice her opinions, whether they were right or wrong. It's safe to say I loved Will the first time he appeared in the book, which was early on, and even when he agreed to Grace's plot I still really liked him. Seeing his and Kate's relationship play out was an enjoyment to read. One of my favourite characters was Freddie, Kate's gay best friend, I thought he was hilarious and it was a shame he didn't go to Tuscany as that meant he was only in half of the book - if that. Walking Wounded, the band Will manages and Kate goes out to Tuscany to cook for, also seemed incredibly nice considering they're huge rock stars. Owen, Rory, Phoenix and Georgie were all hilarious and I loved how their band came to be. As you can see, The Disengagement Ring is filled with quite a few characters but don't fear, it's easy to keep up once you work out whom is whom. We had quite a few villainous characters: Brian, as I mentioned, Will's girlfriend Tina who was rather high-maintenance and irritating, Tessa, Rory's girlfriend who was like Tina. It was a wonderful cast of characters, all who added their own sparkle to the book.
The book is written in third-person and flits from one person to the next. It could be talking about Kate one minute before immediately switching to Will/Grace etc. and, at first, it made my head spin but I quickly got used to it and enjoyed seeing everything from everyone's point of view. It gave a well-rounded view of events although knowing how everyone felt at all times while the other wondered how they were feeling drove me insane as I wanted them to just figure it out and stop wondering. The book has quite a few twists and turns and while I did wonder how it would all end, I was safe in my assumption I would be happy with the outcome.
The Disengagement Ring is a hugely enjoyable novel and Clodagh Murphy is a very promising writer. I say this a lot, but she's an author to watch and I can't wait for her next book. It'll have to be something special to beat this book and it'll also have to have another fantastic plot, not to mention a unique one. Although I have to say, it does remind me of a film... I can't for the life of me figure out which one! I recommend you give this book a read - you won't be disappointed.