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review 2015-12-27 00:00
The Woman Who Stole My Life: A Novel
The Woman Who Stole My Life: A Novel - Marian Keyes 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.
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review 2015-11-13 00:00
The Woman Who Stole My Life
The Woman Who Stole My Life - Marian Keyes This book was well written. It was dragging in climax for me. I like a little more action with my mystery & this had a lot of mundane "action". It needed more twist & a lot more unexpected elements.
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review 2015-09-12 22:39
The Woman Who Stole My Life - Marian Keyes

4.5 stars! #WomanwhoStolemyLife  @_PenguinGroup  @MarianKeyes
Oh my goodness! I have not laughed so hard in a long time. This book was hilarious. I haven't read Marian Keyes in a long time and I have read most of her books. I think this one by far was her best. God, was it funny. I do have to agree with the other reviewer on Goodreads that the trip to the States just kind of drug the story out. There was absolutely nothing funny and it really added nothing to the story. Unless the author wanted to talk about the stress the tour put upon the characters and I seriously think that could have been done in about two or three paragraphs. While Jeremy was a little brat, he did have some pretty good one liners as well.

As for that eejit ex-husband Ryan, OMG, what a waste of oxygen that guy was. Talk about wrapped up in your own frivolous silly little life. I seriously can't believe she let him back in.

I really did want Stella to get that second book published but I guess all our fairy tales can't tales can't come true. Ha!!

Thanks to Penguin Group and Net Galley for providing me with this free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. This book was highly entertaining and I definitely and highly recommend it!!!

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review 2014-12-08 12:00
Worth a look - The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes
The Woman Who Stole My Life - Marian Keyes

[This book was provided to me many moons ago by the publisher, Penguin, via the magnificence that is NetGalley. They charged me nothing and for that I thank them.]


I like Marian Keyes a lot. She's often maligned for being Chick-Lit which is both unfair and stupid - while you don't have to like Chick Lit, you do have to not write off an entire genre. As I mentioned in my review of Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, Keyes pre-dates Sex and The City and Bridget Jones by several years. She didn't single-handedly invent the genre, but she was an important step in its development. 


The Woman Who Stole My Life is a pleasing return to form after the rather jarring The Mystery Of Mercy Close (which I'll mention I enjoyed tons more the second time around) and The Brightest Star In The Sky, which left me wanting to throw it (it's decent enough, but a book which turns out to be narrated by the spirit of an unborn baby waiting to find out which lady's womb it's going to settle down into makes me stabby. Full marks for originality and all that, but it's worth mentioning that abortion is illegal in Ireland so I have trouble regarding an unplanned pregnancy with anything other than horror).


Stella Sweeny has returned to Dublin under a cloud following a year in New York as a lauded self-help author. Now broke, she's desperate to get another book out, but that's going to involve laying off the wall of jaffa cakes and actually writing the thing, a task she's finding far more difficult this time around. 


Keyes uses the structure which has worked so well in previous novels such as Rachel's Holiday and Anybody Out There?: a first person narrative beginning after the fact, the day-to-day story around which the past unfolds. Stella's story has a terrific concept and Keyes' does great work balancing the distress of the character with the levity of the style. She has so many throwaway moments, so many tiny details of life in there. Her characters are both human and ridiculous - Stella's ex-husband Ryan is the exactly like somebody I know in real life (which made me terribly sad, and a little grateful his kidders are boys).


I like the Irish vernacular - when you read as much as I do, anything which stands out a little is gratefully received. This isn't the full Dub, but there's plenty of 'That's gas,' and 'gameball' floating around, along with the odd nun reference which, as a Protestant Atheist, I find minorly thrilling.


There are problems, the largest of which is the story. Along with the present in which Stella desperately tries to write her new book before she runs out of money, there are two main sections: Stella's time in New York and the events which led to her being there. Both are good, but the ending feels desperately weak. Keyes usually gives us characters who are dealing with something - Helen and her Depression, Rachel and her drug addiction etc - but Stella isn't doing that. She's procrastinating and worrying, sure, but most of what happens in her present is filler - completely appropriate and wildly entertaining, but nevertheless filler. When the full story is finally given, that's pretty much it. I genuinely wondered if my ARC was going to have its final chapter missing because I was down to the last few percent and still dealing with Stella's past. 


And while Stella herself is an excellently done character, she's not the best type to have at the heart of a book. She is a passive character - the direction her life takes has little to do with her own decisions or efforts. She is a passenger in her own reality. Keyes knows this and uses it to brilliant effect, but it still leaves for a disappointing reading experience. I understand and sympathise with Stella, but I was never urging her to succeed.


I enjoyed The Woman Who Stole My Life (and I learned something, which is always nice). If you haven't read any Marian Keyes this probably isn't going to turn you onto her, but it's a good book for those who do, if probably not worth the full price of admission. A goodly amount of my like comes from the coverage of Stella's life as an author which - as with The Other Side Of The Story - engaged me. The majority of the book was a solid 3.5 star, but that ending is massively undermining: 3 stars.

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