Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gotham Gal Review: This Charming Man


Author: Marian Keyes

Publisher: Avon A

What's it About:   The lives of four very different women have been shaped and battered by one charming man. Ireland's debonair politician Paddy de Courcy - the "John F. Kennedy Jr. of Dublin" - has captured the tabloid headlines and the imagination of his country with his charm and charisma. But the crushed hearts he's left behind him reveal more about his character than his winning, vote-getting smile. Lola, Grace, Marnie, and Alicia have all suffered from his selfishness and cruelty. But with Paddy's political star ascending, the time is finally ripe for redemption...and perhaps a bit of revenge. (from the back cover).

Gotham Gal Says: I've loved Marian Keyes' book ever since I bought LUCY SULLIVAN'S GETTING MARRIED in London many years ago. When I saw that THIS CHARMING MAN was out in paperback I had to buy it. I've been reading nothing but non-stop non-fiction and historical fiction for months and I was dying to sink my teeth into something contemporary. While I liked this book, I didn't love it. Marian Keyes has a greaft gift for mixing laughter with the serious in her books, but at times I felt the serious overwhelmed the rest of the book. Lola, Grace and Marnie are extremely interesting characters, particularly Lola whose journey I probably enjoyed the most. Her time on the coast and the cast of characters that she meets are ones that I've never seen in fiction before. Who knew there were surfers in Ireland? Her sections are some of the lighter moments in the book. Marnie's journey felt a little 'been there, done that," for me after RACHEL'S HOLIDAY.

Alicia is the only woman who is not as clearly defined as the others. She only has two short sections of the book, and we learn nothing really of her relationship with Paddy through her eyes, we hear about it from the other women in their sections. She is more of a cipher and a spoiler than a real character, at least that was my perception of her. However, the biggest weakness would have to be THIS CHARMING MAN himself, Paddy de Courcy.  I felt that the reader got to know more about his sadistic and cruel side and less of the charming man that they all fell hard for. I didn't see it or feel it. What we do see is that his relationship with Grace's twin was incredibly co-dependent, and with Lola sexually sadistic. There needed to be more scenes of him as a politician or something. The book was certainly long enough to include that, it clocks in at a whopping 563 pages.

No one is better at depicting the modern multi-cultural world that Ireland has become than Marian Keyes but this book just didn't do it for me.

Verdict:  3 apples/5

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