Natasha Godbold reviews The Break by Marian Keyes.
Marian Keyes holds a very special place in my heart. Since the day I randomly picked up Watermelon – Marian’s first novel off a bookshelf, my views on popular fiction have never been the same again.
I realized that it could be not only entertaining but meaningful. That was it − love at first book. And with every book that followed over the years, my admiration for this incredible woman grew stronger and stronger.
We live in a truly bountiful region when it comes to literary talent. The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland have no shortage of wonderful authors, but there is only one Marian.
The Break is Marian Keyes’ 13th novel and, on this occasion, it’s a lucky number. The novel is a perfect example of Marian’s signature style: writing about most serious of issues in a funny and witty fashion.
In her previous novels, the author covered a variety of sensitive and traumatic subjects like alcohol abuse and drug addiction, domestic violence and bereavement among others. Her new book is no exception. In The Break, Marian writes about marriage problems, midlife crisis and adultery, as well as other sensitive topics, in her unique manner.
If anyone can combine tragedy and laughter in a story, Marian can. She has done it time and time again and is a proven master in this field.
The Break is a story of a family that hits some truly turbulent times when the heroine’s husband experiences something akin to a midlife crisis.
Many of us view a midlife crisis with a groan or raised eyebrow but wait till you read about how it affected the character in the book and everybody around him. You might think you’ve heard it all, but you haven’t heard anything yet.
According to Marian, middle-aged men should be treated like unexploded bombs. You never know when they choose to go off.
It’s that age when we start to wonder all over again if the grass is actually greener on the other side. And, whether or not we are missing out on fun, excitement and adventure by settling down and taking on responsibilities that come with having a family. Is this lacklustre routine of an existence all we’ve got to look forward to for the rest of our lives? The fact that people in modern society tend to live longer opens a whole new range of problems and complications. People stay married longer and there is a lot more time to think about it all.
As ever, the novel is empathetic and thought-provoking. It’s a mixture of humour and grim realism and, as all Marian’s novels, it’s full of wit and quirky Irish idioms.
Like the most skilful of artists, the author paints an elaborate picture with the most sensational variety of colours and shades as if trying to blend a rainbow into the darkness.
As anticipated, there is Marian’s signature superb portrayal of colourful family dynamics and plenty of absolutely brilliant characters you simply won’t be able to get enough of. There are also plenty of dilemmas to sympathize with: from whether or not to start an affair to whether or not to have an abortion.
With her exquisitely acute awareness of trends, changes and turning points in our society, Marian picks up the most vibrant and delicate ones. And, making them a part of the story, she puts them under the microscope.
Marian Keyes’ novels are like a breath of fresh air. She is not afraid to write about real issues in real women’s lives.
The change of the abortion laws in Ireland is a matter very close to the author’s heart. Throughout the debate, Marian had been a very strong supporter of the need for everyone to take part in the voting process. She takes this opportunity, to express her views on these laws as well as relay the consequences for those who break them through her characters in the book.
Reading this book you can’t help but wonder just how fragile relationships can be, not only between a man and a woman but between friends as well. And how a difference of views or a disagreement can damage the connection that seemed unbreakable.
Reading a Marian Keyes’ book is like dining at a Michelin star restaurant. You know you are getting an experience to remember rather than just an ordinary meal.
I love her friendly familiar tone. Marian is writing her novels as if she were speaking to a close friend. Her engaging sense of humour, her kindness and compassion for women and their lives’ stories are instantly relatable.
Marian’s latest novel is every bit as good as I expected. The Break is another example of her talent in transposing real-world emotions into words on a page. It was well worth waiting for. If you haven’t read it already, you’ve got a lot to look forward to.
If, for some reason, you only have time for one book this year, make it a good one – make it Marian. Treat yourself, you deserve The Break.