I have been pretty hit or miss with Marian Keyes books the past few years. This one was a definite miss for me. I think I could have liked it better if the story had been told in a straight forward manner. Instead the plot line shifts back and forth between present day and then past (when the main character is first diagnosed with her condition) and then past (when the main character is a hit with her first ever self help book). The main character, Stella, and others in the book really weren't developed very well. I also had a lot of issues with how when the book shifted to New York City, it could have been any-town USA and it didn't feel like New York at all.
Stella Sweeney is home in Ireland after a whirlwind book tour touting her self-help book. Her book is about the things she thought about and blinked out to her neurologist at the time when she was stricken with an illness that left her unable to move or breathe on her own, all she could do was move her eyelids. The story takes a while to get going. Instead we are in the present day with Stella and we don't know what exactly has gone on, but that she is heartbroken and feels like a fraud. Living with her teenage son that despises her, and trying to keep her ex-husband from giving away all of his belongings, it seems like Stella has a lot to get through.
I wish that I could have gotten a handle on Stella. She just didn't feel real at all throughout the entire book. You understand that she is a mother of two. However, besides her being horrified by how normal her son is and wondering about her daughter's relationship with her fiancee, you don't really get the sense that she even likes her children. Her relationship with her sister and her family had some funny moments here and there, but other than that, I couldn't make a lick of sense of Stella. A former beautician and now failed self-help author, she seemed to have no interests at all. There are a lot of asides thrown out about how much she and her father love to read but Stella doesn't pick up one book and read it during the course of this book.
The other characters are not drawn very well either. Stella's ex husband is several times a fool, and you don't understand what she ever saw in him, especially since Stella doesn't paint him in a positive light..
Stella's love interest in this book, Dr. Taylor was all over the place. Figuring out how to communicate with Stella, they are both surprised that they feel something though Stella can't move and they are both married. When these two do start seeing each other, there is nothing really there besides hot sex. I had no idea what his interest were really. And it didn't help when the book moved them to New York City. Everyone kept saying how these two were not well suited. And seriously they were not. Things took the turn for the absurd when he gave up doctoring for a year to pretty much become Stella's agent.
We have another character who apparently watched All About Eve too many times. I saw that character coming from a mile away.
The writing wasn't that great. It didn't help because of the shifting timelines that it took me a few minutes each time to figure out what tie period we were in. Also the font sizes changed from when we were in the present day (with time stamps) to the past which had larger fonts and a saying from Stella's book at the top of each chapter ending. The flow was all over the place because of that. When readers finally figure out what happened to Stella you may have lost interest by then (I know that I did).
The setting of Ireland and New York were not very well done at all. I loved Keyes former books taking place in both of these places. She managed to breathe life into these places so that you felt like you were right there with the characters in her books feeling the heat and humidity (New York) or dealing with the changing face of the country (her books taking place in Ireland). I think the jumping around really didn't devote itself to showcasing these places. Though we do spend a lot of time on Stella's clothes and in particular her shoes.
The ending was definitely not earned at all. Everything got wrapped up in a tidy bow which made me laugh a bit. Based on what happened before, one wonders why in the world Stella would have blithely continued on with things.