Amy's husband Hugh has run away to 'find himself'. But will he ever come back?
'Myself and Hugh . . . We're taking a break.'
'A city-with-fancy-food sort of break?'
Amy's husband Hugh says he isn't leaving her.
He still loves her, he's just taking a break - from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in South East Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.
Yes, it's a mid-life crisis, but let's be clear: a break isn't a break up - yet . . .
However, for Amy it's enough to send her - along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers - teetering over the edge.
For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? Will Amy be the same woman?
Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then so is she . . .
The Break is a story about the choices we make and how those choices help to make us. It is Marian Keyes at her funniest, wisest and brilliant best.
How was excited was I to receive an ARC via Netgalley and the publisher, Penguin, for Marian's latest book? Oh, very!
I love Marian's books, and this one does not disappoint. The Queen of Women's Fiction is Back!
Poor Amy, abandoned by her husband, Hugh, who wants to go off and 'find himself' in Thailand. When he says he wants a break, he means a total break from the marriage; he wants carte blanche to sleep with other women and forget he has a wife back home.
Amy doesn't get any choice in the matter. Everyone around her tuts and frets about his betrayal, some jumping joyfully on the gossip wagon with a sense of schadenfreude, others telling her what she should and shouldn't be feeling.
Marian writes with a sparkly warmth and wit, lending depth to her characters. I was drawn in straight away into this tale of family, guilt and uncertainty. Amy struggles to accept her husband's decision, as I think anyone would. There was no real sign beforehand that their marriage was in trouble... or was there? Hugh had been depressed after losing two people close to him, but everyone is still shocked. Amy veers between anger at Hugh and guilt at her own behaviour.
Then there's the other characters in Amy's chaotic life, spiky daughter Neeve, from her first marriage to footballer Richie, 16 year old Kiara, Amy's daughter with Hugh, and the delicate Sofie, their niece. They all struggle with the fall-out from Hugh's departure.
Amy has struggles all too common in real life, realising that supporting your friends isn't always a two-way street. Sister Derry wouldn't know commitment if it slapped her round the face, friend Steevie is a man-hater, and Posh Petra has enough on her plate with The Kid from Hell. They, and others, are all glorious characters who are wholly believable.
It's a poignant story, dealing with some serious issues such as abortion in Ireland, injected with Marian's usual sharp humour. Amy's Mam's new-found fame is hilarious, adding some lighthearted relief. The pace is gentle, which works perfectly. I still didn't want to put the book down, yet I didn't want it to end.
Another great read from Marian Keyes.
You can buy The Break here.
Marian Keyes' international bestselling novels include Rachel's Holiday, Last Chance Saloon, Sushi for Beginners, Angels, The Other Side of the Story, Anybody Out There, This Charming Man and The Woman Who Stole My Life. Three collections of her journalism, Under the Duvet, Further Under the Duvet and Making It Up as I Go Along, are also available from Penguin. Marian lives in Dublin with her husband.
Follow Marian on Twitter - she is hilarious!