The Break, Marian Keyes. The Crossroads Duet, Rachel Blaufeld
The Break, Marian Keyes
Genre: Women’s Fiction, romance.
Its years since I read a Marion Keyes novel. Looking back on my reading history for me it seems to go through cycles, and its been a while since I was attracted to this type of novel.
Something about it called to me though and I am so glad, its an incredible, moving, thoughtful novel, not all doom and gloom and sad broken relationships but sharp, witty humour, a wry look at the realities of modern day family life, a look at how our pasts can affect the now and how even the most content seeming people can crack.
I’m blaming Marion for the fact that today I’m feeling – as my dad would have said “like a wet weekend”. I’d just finished the fabulous Clara Coulson novella Dream Snatcher at about 8.30 last night and decided to start this.
I knew it was long, I love long novels so planned on reading to maybe half way, but time ticked on, midnight came and went and finally about 2 am I finished….
I just couldn’t stop, I had to know what would happen next, how Neeve’s vlog was doing, what Sofia was planning, how Keira was coping, Hugh leaving affected so many people.
Amy’s work partners, they’re supportive and yet there’s a job to be done, and who can really understand what’s happening on someone else life.
Amy’s friends all have different views, coloured by their own experiences, and then there’s her extended family, sisters and brothers, children, partners, and her parents, dad with dementia who scares off all but the most hardy of carers, and mum, well, she was a terrific lady, finally seemed to have found life after years of ill health that left her children to really bring up themsleves. I loved her in Neeve’s vlog, her way of saying what she wanted, what wasn’t really quite acceptable but with a charm and sparkle that negated any possible offence.
Then there’s Hugh and Amy. Amy had been through a husband leaving her already, divorced at 22 with a young child her husband had never helped since, despite his fame as a footballer, and all his money. She was determined to never rely on a man again, and she’d picked herself up, finagled the balance of work, home, childcare somehow, all the while helping her extended family.
Then Hugh came along….he’s a charmer, wears her down and is just truly adorable. He treats Neeve as his own, adores Kiera when she comes along just months into their dating, and when Amy’s irresponsible brother and his weird partner finally – well, dump I guess – their daughter Sofia on her Hugh just accepts her as part of the brood, and life expands to fit in yet another member.
They really seem to have a perfect marriage, money’s tight, but then so it is for most people, and finally they have a tiny nest egg after Hugh’s father dies and leaves them some money.
His death affects Hugh badly though, and a close friend dying soon after tips him into, not really depression but a sort of discontent with his life. Amy thinks later Could she have seen this coming? I don’t think so, its easy to use hindsight but at the time we’re immersed in the eternal struggle of home, kids, family, work and sometimes it takes away moments when we could have spotted an issue. Or not. who knows?
When Hugh drops his bombshell, he’s done the figures, he’s spending some of the nest egg on six months away, backpacking in Asia. He’s not leaving her he says, he just won’t be married for that time.
Wham, poor Amy, she’s gutted and who wouldn’t be? Lets be clear, he’s planning to act as a single guy, tells Amy she has the same freedon and that he’ll be back to pick up things in six months.
I was so angry and yet like Amy so confused. How on earth did he think they could just pick up the reins again after that?
She tries all sorts of arguments, she reasons, offers other suggestions, cries, tries persuasion, guilt, everything she has. She loves him, he’s been her other half, her help-meet for so long and she can’t imagine life without him.
She could have ranted, run him down to freinds and family and yet, he’s still her Hugh, still the man she loves. That doesn’t sit well with everyone, and no-one really knows what to say or do.
The final day comes though, Hugh is off and the family have to learn to live without him. I was thinking “what happens now? What if he meets someone, what if Amy meets someone, and if they don’t, how can they pick up life without resentment?”
I really wanted to hate him, call him all sorts of names, and yet I couldn’t because I knew he wasn’t a selfish man, he’d just reached the point of no return, knew if he didn’t do something drastic he’d crack and they’d all fall. This way, well – if he’s very, very lucky maybe, just maybe they can get their lives back.
I don’t think he’d really though beyond that “must get away” issue he had, in theory it all worked because he wanted it to work but life isn’t that easy. Its a huge gamble, and I just had to see how it played out, hence the 2 am finish….
It could be a novel full of doom and gloom, bitterness, sadness, fractured families, but its not. We see just how families can pull together while also being a huge source of friction, see how we do cope when we think all is lost, life does go on, work has to be done, food has to be bought, bills to be paid. That drudgery, that slog provides the reason to keep going. And the humour. Surprisingly there’s a lot of really sharp, funny humour, moments and phrases that had me sniggering. I’m a bit of a face-book addict, have to have a sneak each morning to see what friends have been doing, have posted, and this gem really rang a chord
“Instagram is the worst for that inspirational crap. Nothing is too banal or too obvious that it can’t be posted”
Oh yes, I’ve seen so so many of those!!
I’ll stop now, I’ve rambled far too much but it really is a fantastic read, sharp and observant, full of pathos, sadness and yet hope, looking at families, at modern issues, at falling in love, and very importantly, staying in love, and just how far a marriage can stretch before it fractures.
It made me think “what would I do” and to be truthful, I don’t know, any more than Amy did.
Stars: Five, terrific read, hard to put down, so just leave yourself time so you’re not reading into early hours as I did!
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
It’s on KU, and currently only 99p for the duo even if you don’t have KU.
Genre: Literature/Fiction, Contemporary Romance.
I haven’t yet read the second book, read the first ages ago and yesterday re-read that ready for reading book two. Today hopefully, maybe tomorrow. (edit 10 Sept – read it now – review at end)
Wow, what a read…its so packed with emotion, sadness, and really tugged at my sensibilities. I veered from hope to despair, from happiness to the depths of sorrow. It contains some really dark vibes at times – and of course that’s right up my street.
Its not all despair and melancholy though – there are breakthroughs when you feel this time they really will come through, and then dammit, something else happens and poor Bess or Lane is sent back to their demons.
I loved Bess, she’s really struggled to get back after hitting the bottom, nearly dying and ending in rehab. She was determined to put her past behind her – sadly though it wasn’t to be left behind but crept up, sneaking in by way of Lane.
Until then though she’s working hard, filling every hour she can with her job, attending meetings for addicts and with looking after the wonderful Brooks Bailey, her rescue dog. Its quiet up in the mountains where she lives but it suits her. She’s a small group of connections, they can’t really be called friends – more acquaintances really, from work or the addiction group. Somehow she’s getting by in life, its not fun but hard work but its all she knows now.
Lane, he’s got his own troubles and is always pulling his twin Jake out of situations. Then That night happens, when Bess collapses at Lane’s feet and somehow in the muddle of getting help for her he doesn’t follow up what happened, just leaves Jake and runs.
He’s now a rich and successful CEO, and then on a working visit to a hotel he runs into Bess. Of course she doesn’t remember him, after all she was hardly in a position to notice anyone, and he just can’t stay away from her, there’s an attraction he can’t shut down. He’s never short of ladies, they flock to him being the magic duo of rich and good-looking, but it’s Bess he wants. Slowly he persuades her and they begin a relationship. Its fraught though from their demons of the past, from so many things that I began to think they’d never come through together. It was so tense at times, so edge of seat wondering what would happen, and then some beautiful moments when all was going well.
Of course secrets always come out in the end, and Lane’s knowledge of her collapse comes out just when things are going really well for them. Its not only that secret that comes out though, there’s the connections from the twins past, the secret that plagues Lane, gives him terrible nightmares, but he refuses to admit it or talk about it when Bess questions him. She loves him and wants to help, but each time he runs, just shuts her out and goes. It’s what he’s always done to cope but this time, if he wants Bess he needs to face up to his past.
It’s a complete novel, and wraps up beautifully with a quick glimpse into the future. Its a wonderful novel, more than just a simple romance, a feeling that this story could be real, and has some great secondary characters; Jake, Shirley, AJ, James – they all play a special part in making this book come alive for me.
Stars: Five, a great read, a romance but so much more than Just a romance…
ARC of book one provided by Netgalley and publishers.
Book two was so much luck book one, a very different story but with the same amazing characters, ones you love, ones you don’t…I so felt for Jake, his view of himself was so awful, he felt he didn’t deserve to be happy. I could understand his grudge against Shirley, what she said, what she did has left him with self loathing, with lifelong issues and he’s a broken man inside. Yet he’s such a generous person too, has good freinds, works hard, treats people really well. He’s turned his life around and yet still struggling to find his place in the world and then…he meets Allyson.
He’s besotted with her, in the same way Lane was with Bess. Its that Something – not really Love but some kind of powerful Pull – that made them both change their lives, made them decide That person simply must be part of it. Jake’s facing an uphill battle though. Like Bess, Allyson also has secrets, difficulties, things she hides from everyone. Slowly he wears her down – and what a man, he knows what he wants and goes all out. his past though isn’t all behind him, Allyson’s present brings her into real danger and at some point the two collide.
An amazing, emotional read, with real depth, not a light and fluffy romance but a very real feeling one, with some heart stopping moments.
another full five stars.
ARC provided by author and publishers