Marian Keyes is an author who is always on my radar. When I heard she had a new, standalone, novel coming out I knew I wanted to read it. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of the book from Michael Joseph, Penguin UK and I finished it quickly, falling in love with the characters on the way.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Amy’s husband Hugh isn’t really leaving her.
At least, that’s what he promises. He is just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. For six-months Hugh will lose himself in south-east Asia, and there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.
Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . .
It’s been a long time since Amy held a briefcase in one hand and a baby in the other. She never believed she’d have to go it alone again. She just has to hold the family together until Hugh comes back.
But a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?
Because falling in love is easy. The hard part – the painful, joyous, maddening, beautiful part – is staying in love.
At 576 pages it’s a typical long Marian Keyes book. I often find myself putting off longer books due to the shear size of my TBR pile. However this is my fourth Keyes book and I knew it would probably be worth it, having previously enjoyed Angels, Anybody Out There? and The Woman Who Stole My Life.
Keyes is one of those rare authors who can genuinely make me laugh (and it’s witty and clever, not silly humour) and feel so much empathy it makes me chest hurt.
Amy’s husband Hugh has left her to look after the children while he goes travelling across Asia. He has even insisted on an ‘open’ relationship – so he can do whatever he wishes with whoever he wishes while he’s away. You would imagine most people reading this would vilify the man for doing this and I did, at first. But this is a more complicated story than that. Hugh has gone through a bereavement and is clearly feeling lost and depressed. He perhaps isn’t thinking clearly and wants some time to focus on himself.
Reading this book, you feel so many different emotions and your opinions constantly shift – I surprised myself how much I could empathise with him at times.
Having got married myself this year I did of course make my husband promise that he would never do the same to me, but I feel that goes against the whole premise of this book. You just never know what will happen in the future. Everyone likes to think theirs is a marriage that will survive against all odds and will never run into problems. But that’s clearly not always the case.
As Keyes said herself with an interview with The Express: “You cannot always control what your partner wants to do. You must accept they are a different person to you and live with that pain and let them do it.”
The book shows the grim realities of marriage and shows that even after a long period of time you may not truly know your partner. They may not even know themselves – as you may not truly know yourself – especially after going through something as traumatic as a bereavement.
I found this book gripping, witty and realistic. This isn’t your traditional, soppy love story – but it is still a love story, and a really good one at that.
Thank you to Netgalley and Michael Joseph for allowing me to have a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.