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review 2020-02-07 13:22
Life Drawing for Beginners
Life Drawing For Beginners - Roisin Meaney

I apparently bought this book eons ago and I honestly don't remember anything about it. I now know why I don't remember this book, it's mostly forgettable. It doesn't help that the author tries to follow 7 people (I think it's 7) and most of the stories are fragmented due to the jumping back and forth. There's also plot points that are left open and I wondered about them since they felt really important to resolve them (one man is a pariah in his old town and had to leave for reasons the book gets to) before the ending. I also flat out didn't like some of the characters so I started to hate every time Meaney switched to them. I know if you can call this chick lit. Chick lit should be mostly romance with sometimes some serious issues if the author wants to tackle them. This had zero romance, and I got to say Meaney tries to throw a bow on two couples (that she force fits together) that I didn't see going the distance. 


"Life Drawing for Beginners" follows Audrey Matthews who decides to hold a life drawing class in the town of Carrickbawn. The participants in her class sign up for various reasons: Irene (looking to get out of the house away from her husband and daughter), James (trying to have time away from worrying about his past and his daughter), Zarek (trying to hide who he really is), Fiona (happily married and expecting her first child) and Meg (married unhappily it seems). The model for the class is Jackie who wants to save up to buy her son a Wii. There's also a man who runs a pet shop that Audrey loathes due to their interactions, Michael. And two people who claim to know someone from Michael's past keep coming to his store asking for help. So yeah that's a lot of people that the book follows though the summary mentions following four people. 


I can't really say I loved one character the most. I think the one that was the most developed was Michael. He had a hard life and you get to see why he acts the way he does. I disliked how he carried himself and how he was when someone reached out to him for help, but I got why he was that way. By the end of the book you get to see someone different who hardened up because of things that happened. 


The setting of Carrickbawn seems really small at times. The characters sometimes run into each other and sometimes not. They all had a main plot for themselves, but sometimes things overlapped like with Irene and two other characters. 


As I said the ending didn't have a happy ending for everyone. Two couples or I guess three now that I think of it are going to try for romances and you don't know if it's going to be 100 percent successful. There were dangling plot threads left open that I wish that Meaney had resolved, especially with the character of James. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-06-04 15:21
Narrative Style Took Me Out of Story Also Book Wraps Things Up Too Neatly
The Reunion - Roisin Meaney

Trigger warning: Rape. 


I tend to not do spoiler reviews. However, I realized that I wouldn't be able to show what I didn't give this book over two stars without spoiling the book. 

Well good news is that this only cost me $.99. Bad news is that I didn't really think I got my money's worth. I have liked/loved most of Meaney's works, but this one just fell flat to me throughout the book. Ostensibly about two sisters (Caroline and Eleanor) going to their twenty year reunion in Ireland, the book jumps back and forth showing Caroline and Eleanor and their lives twenty years ago, and to the present day. I felt for both women's stories, but ended up liking Caroline's more, I just hated how her story-line got resolved. I also think that Eleanor's story-line just magically poof got better with no real repercussions for what happened to her family after she just opted out of things. 


"The Reunion" starts with sisters Caroline and Eleanor receiving an invitation to their 20 year reunion. Neither of them wants to go for different reasons. Receiving the invitation though has both of them remembering things that they rather not dwell about now in their late 30s. 

Meaney goes back and forth to show both women's POV throughout the book.


Caroline's story-line was shocking. She is raped by a family friend and falls pregnant. When she goes to her mother, her mother informs her that she will be sent to England for an abortion and even slaps her when Caroline realizes that her mother maybe harbored a secret fantasy about this family friend. I felt for Caroline and everything she went through. Her finding a real friend in her cousin Florence was welcome. Caroline is shown missing her son after giving him up for adoption. However, Meaney then throws a love interest in Caroline's story that didn't feel realistic at all. I was fine with her being a successful businesswoman. Having her in a romance that felt off to me (she meets this man when he is a young teen and they have a relationship about ten years later) and honestly it skeeved me out. 


Eleanor seemed to have a slightly charmed life. Dating the most handsome boy at her school who is also the son of a rich man, Eleanor sees her life with him going smoothly with them eventually marrying. He has other ideas and breaks up with her. For most of the story-line with Eleanor you know that she doesn't let this relationship go easily, and that she had a child that died. It takes a while for you to figure out who Eleanor marries. And I have to say, that romance had zero chemistry when Meaney finally shows it to us. I did feel sympathy for Eleanor for her loss, but we find out she refused to be a mother or wife to her family for 14 years after the accidental death of her child. I didn't want her to be left alone and mourning forever. But I thought how Meaney resolved things with no real repercussion to Eleanor was a freaking cop out. It seemed that for a bit there Meaney was going to reveal that Eleanor's husband sought out a relationship elsewhere, but that went nowhere fast.


I think the secondary characters were not developed that well. Eleanor's husband barely feels present, along with Caroline and Eleanor's parents. I thought the only character that was sketched reasonably well was cousin Florence. 

The writing was good. I was just more invested in Caroline's story. Eleanor's chapters felt bogged down to me while I was reading. Nothing much seems to happen to her until she goes off to work in a restaurant. The flow was up and down going back and forth. When Meaney goes back in time (so to speak) to show the women's lives twenty years back and then suddenly we are just in the present day it felt weird to me. Meaney does show the years/month so you know what timeline you are in. Thank goodness for that since a few times I was a bit lost. 


The ending didn't satisfy me at all. Eleanor's family is bailed out by a rich relation and she and her husband magically make things work. I wish we had them having more conversations with each other. Instead, we just hear how they are now sharing a bedroom again. I also wish that Caroline's mother had been made to face up to what she had done, but she wasn't.

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review 2018-05-18 19:16
Half Seven on a Thursday
Half Seven On A Thursday - Roisin Meaney

I got such a kick out of this one. Meaney has a play in this one with you also delving into the life of the characters who come to perform in an amateur production. I really enjoyed everyone we read about and would have happily read a second book starring everyone. However, Meaney gives you a general idea of how things are going to go with everyone once the curtains fall. 


Six people come out to audition for an amateur play called, "Death by Dying". Think Agatha Christie.


The director of the play, Edward Bull (everyone mentions he looks like Tommy Lee Jones) is throwing himself into directing in order to distract himself over the disintegration of his marriage. He wonders if he can forgive his wife, but finds himself thinking about someone else. I liked Edward. He is a bit of a prig when the book starts off and stays that way through the end. But he grows on you, at least he did on me. He is trying to take care of his uncle and definitely knows what is what with directing. 


The other characters are sisters, Ellen and Maria. Ellen is still dealing with the heartache of losing her childhood sweetheart. Maria is dealing with being in a loveless marriage and her son's autism. I didn't really like Ellen. There is a whole side-plot dealing with her and a potential medical issue that didn't make me more interested in her. Maria I felt really bad about. She's caught between a rock and a hard place and wants to leave her marriage, but feels trapped since her young son needs his routines or he will lash out. 


Robert is a hairdresser still working alongside his ex-wife Caroline. They share custody of their twin boys, but now Caroline is seeking to make a big change that is going to impact Robert. I don't know. I didn't care that much for Robert. You find out he and Caroline split because he cheated. He seems oblivious about how much he had to hurt her. His two kids are pretty cute though. 


Harry is a librarian and dealing with a secret he has kept hidden about himself. He still has hope his mother who is suffering from Alzheimer's can come back to herself. I felt badly for Harry. We get a scene with him trying to take his mother out for her birthday over the objections of his absent siblings. You can feel how much pain and loneliness he is dealing with. 


Theo has a son and daughter she adores. Only issue is that her current fiance's daughter that she wishes would go away. Can't lie, didn't like Theo at all for this whole story-line. She was acting obtuse and kind of jerky. 


Judith has a lot of regrets. Her ex-husband abandoned her long ago to deal with raising their son alone. He hasn't turned out that great. When he returns from Greece with a girlfriend, her life is tipped upside down. 


I enjoyed reading the play/characters dialogue so much. I thought it was such a smart idea to mix that in there with us getting to read along with the rehearsals. 


The book flow was great. You go from character to character quite easily. Meaney does a good job of setting up the chapter headings that helps with showing how much time has passed as well. 


The ending was really good. Not everyone got a great happy ending, but what does occur made sense to me. 

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text 2018-05-17 22:04
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Half Seven On A Thursday - Roisin Meaney

Roisin Meaney always does such a great job with books set up like this! Loved the whole play (would have read that separately actually) and all of these characters! The POVs were done quite well and the back and forth between the cast of 6 with the director in the middle. I don't know who was my favorite character off the top of my head. Will think on it more tomorrow.

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review 2018-03-27 14:14
Okay Book, Just Ultimately Not Compelling
Two Fridays in April - Roisin Meaney

I was surprised to find this book just okay. It's not bad or anything, I just didn't find it very gripping considering the subject matter. I think Meaney has done a better job of showcasing the same characters over a period of days/week before (see "Last Week of May"). I think the main issue is that we shuffle between four characters, then we get the stories broken into duos, and then we revisit the same characters more than a year later and though one character goes through something life changing, it feels a bit samey which is weird.

"Two Fridays in April" has the Darling family dealing with recovering from the one year anniversary of the death of Finn Darling. The book shows the POV of Daphne Darling (Finn's widow), Mo Darling (Finn's mother), Isobel Franklin (Daphne's mother) and Una Darling (Finn's stepdaughter). 


Daphne still feels adrift after losing her husband and doesn't know what to do with regards to her stepdaughter Una. Daphne's mother in law Mo isn't much help. Daphne's mother Isobel is nearby, but the two of them rarely talk about "real things." I was interested in Isobel more than the other characters though she felt like a secondary character to me even though we get her POV. Daphne I thought was a bit much though at times. She's still harboring resentment towards her mother for abandoning her for a few months when she was 6. You find out later that her mother came back after her affair exploded in her face. But from then on she saw her on scheduled visits. So I guess I just don't get why they had not talked about it before now and or why she would be holding it against her? It just felt odd. 


Mo is dealing with not only losing her husband, but coming to grips that her husband she loved is dealing with the affects of Alzheimer's disease. Mo is pretty bitter about the fact that Daphne and Finn didn't have children since she doesn't feel as close to Una since she's not Finn's "real daughter." Such a mess. I was not a fan of Mo by the way at all while reading her sections. She tries to bully Daphne into quitting her job to reopen Finn's shop with her and doesn't care that Daphne doesn't want to. Whether she has a bustling career or not, it's still her life. 


Isobel's POV felt like it could be her own book. She has a lot of regrets that she is dealing with now that she is almost 60. One of them is leaving her first husband for another man due to how that affected her relationship with her daughter Daphne. Isobel realizes too late how foolish it was to run from her first marriage to a man who ended up dumping her soon after to return to his own family. She is now married to 10 years to a man she realizes that she doesn't love and who doesn't love her. Isobel is determined though to get a bit of passion in her life and you get to read about her trying her best to meet men (yep still married) on a dating site. 

Una feels more lost. Finn is her father (not her real father) her birth mother died when she was small and now she is left with her father's widow who she feels really doesn't want her around. Una goes around making a ton of mistakes throughout the book, but her story-line felt very real to me. I wish that it had been the second POV in the book or maybe the book should have really focused on just her and Daphne's POV. I would not have missed Mo's POV at all and as I already said, Isobel's read as weird to include here.

The writing was okay. I think the main issue was the flow was not that great. We go from the different POVs and then we are also jumping around in timelines. So if you start reading about Una, we have her going into what she has been up to almost for a year and going up to the present day in her POV chapter. It made things a bit confusing to read I found. The latter section (Friday, 29, April (A Year and a Bit Later) wraps things up nicely though (a bit too nicely). Meaney tries for a twist with a character and I thought that something else happened, but we get a surprise with her. 

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