For this reader, a long-time fan of both Rachel and all the Marion Keyes books, visiting with Rachel again, (along with the entire Walsh family), is a visit with old and treasured friends, – so much so that re-opening the door, to step back into their world, is remarkably, as intimate, captivating, hilarious, and magical as it was the day we left it.
And of course, no-one, absolutely no-one, writes like Marian Keyes.
The author strikes the perfect tone, achieving an incredible balance between caustic, ice-pick women-of-Walsh judgements and side-splitting, eye-watering sardonic humor – this book had me on a constant roll, chuckling out loud as I read about Rachel’s mishaps with her “abnormally girthy lower legs”, encounters with the “Lentil Boys”, and wise advice from the sincere pooch Crunchie, reminding us (with a touch of pathos) – “I’m not Esther Perel, I’m only a dog”.
But life for Rachel, her sisters, and all their assorted partners, colleagues, friends and family, is not all fun and games. Like a crazy quilt of somewhat jarring colors and patterns, Rachel’s life is so deeply enmeshed with that of her emotionally involved family, that, thankfully for this reader, telling her tale means telling large bits of theirs as well.
As we meet with a now somewhat middle-aged Rachel (forty-something years old), she has settled into a sort of cushioned groove. A former drug addict, long in recovery, Rachel now counsels addicts (a number of which are both rascally and lovable) at the same rehab facility she attended, years ago – a job she is astounding good at.
Settled with her partner of two years – the handsome, competitive, and imminently likeable Quin, Rachel’s world is rocked to its core when she receives an invitation to the funeral of her ex-mother-in-law – the mother of none other than Luke Costello, Rachel’s ex husband – the painfully absent love-of-her-life, who up and left her (suddenly and wrenchingly) six years ago, leaving a whole pile of unfinished business jagged and raw in Rachel’s heart.
Without giving the plot away(no spoilers here) – this author is not afraid to tackle some seriously dark themes, as Rachel’s brush with her past conjures up (for her and inevitably, the Walsh sisters) a tangled web that includes addictions, grief, loss, motherhood, fear, loneliness, sexual apathy and of course, love ( be it requited, hopeful or devastatingly lost).
Wise and funny, charming and even bleak, this is a book that is guaranteed to make you smile, tear up, ponder and ache, and (if you’re anything like this reader), glow with the joy of time spent in the bosom of a family as familiar and dear to you as only old friends can be.
A great big thank you to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.