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Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes - Book Review


Rachel's Holiday
Marian Keyes

Fiction-Net Rating 3 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

Here's Rachel Walsh, twenty-seven and the miserable owner of size eight feet. She has regular congress with Luke Costello, a man who wears his leather trousers tight and she's fond - some might say too fond - of recreational drugs. Until everything goes pear-shaped and she finds herself being frog-marched to the Cloisters - Dublin's answer to the Betty Ford Clinic. She's outraged. Surely she's not thin enough to be an addict? But on the bright side, she's heard that rehab places are wall-to-wall jacuzzis, gymnasiums and rock stars going tepid turkey. Besides, it's about time she had a little holiday.

Rachel isn't expecting plump, middle-aged men in brown jumpers and more group therapy than you can shake a stick at. Worse still, she seems to be expected to join in with it. Who cares for introspection when the view is damaged and broken?

Heartsick and Luke-sick, she seeks redemption in the shape of Chris, a Man with a Past. A man who might be more trouble than he's worth.

Rachel is airlifted from addiction to the unfamiliar terrain of adulthood, via a love story or two, in a novel by turns poignant, powerful and seriously funny.

We Say

There are few pleasures in life to match that of curling up with a comfortingly thick Marian Keyes novel. It's a safe bet that there'll be charismatic female characters, frothy humour and a plot filled with action. Although it may not be any good for our 'literary' souls, it's good for our hearts and the part of us that demands entertainment without effort. That said, Rachel's Holiday does have another iron in its fire, which renders it something of a wayward sibling in the Marian Keyes family of books.

Running alongside the usual themes of boyfriends, embarrassing parents and shopping is the far less cheerful subject of addiction. Marian Keyes has set herself a hard task in combining the two without sacrificing the appropriate tone of either. This is why Rachel's Holiday takes a little longer than usual to get going.

The narrative moves between Rachel's treatment at the therapy centre and flashbacks to her previous life in New York. In this way, her problems are revealed gradually and whilst we are never fooled (as Rachel herself is) about her drug addiction, the technique allows for the full horror of the problem to become a revelation. Full credit is due to Keyes for researching the subject and putting across the message so well. Just because it's accessible doesn't make it any less moving. Though we may well laugh at some of the strange characters in the treatment centre with Rachel, Marian Keyes is also careful to show the reader the inevitable tragedy behind the person involved.

Arguably certain aspects of the book are somewhat predictable. In terms of the boyfriend material on offer to Rachel, it's pretty easy to spot which is the 'catch' and which is the 'rat'. But I suppose this is forgivable in the light of all the other stuff that's going on. Overall, Rachel's Holiday is a step away from Marian Keyes' usual style but it's only a small, very carefully placed step, in order to ensure that she doesn't disappoint her fans.

Review by: Rachel Taylor

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