This Charming Man
With This Charming Man, Marian Keyes hits her stride as a novelist with her best novel yet, telling the stories of four women who are shaped by one man. Paddy de Courcy is Ireland’s debonair politician, the “John F. Kennedy Jr. of Dublin.” His charm and charisma have taken hold of the country and the tabloids, not to mention our four heroines: Lola, Grace, Marnie, and Alicia. But though Paddy’s winning smile is fooling Irish minds, the broken hearts he’s left in his past offer a far more truthful look into his character. Narrated in turn by each woman, This Charming Man explores how their love for this one man has shaped their lives. But in true Marian Keyes fashion, this is more than a story of four love affairs. It’s a testament to the strength women find in themselves through work, friendship, and family, no matter what demons may be haunting their lives. Depression, self-doubt, domestic abuse—each of these women has seen tough times in life, and it’s through Keyes’s wonderful storytelling ability that these subjects are approached with the appropriate tone and candor. Her deft touch provides a gripping story and, ultimately, a redemptive ending.
Ok, so I made a slight error. I was sure this was a contemporary romance in the style of the Chick-Lit, and was ready to review this as part of the Book Chick City Romance Challenge. You see, Marian Keyes has long been a writer I turn to when looking for a light fun read, where different people start out with one person, go through a few more, and end up with someone else entirely. This book? So very different. Yes, it can still be classified as Chick-Lit, but I can’t honestly review it as a romance. What I can do, is review it as one of the most surprising books I’ve read this year.
This Charming Man begins with the engagement announcement of rising Irish politician Paddy de Courcy, and the reaction of four women to the announcement. Each of these four women has known Paddy de Courcy intimately. Each of them will narrate certain parts of this book.
Lola, is extremely surprised Paddy is getting engaged, since she has been dating him for over six months, and isn’t the woman he asked to marry. Alicia is the woman he is marrying, but for some reason, he forgot to tell her, and sisters Grace and Marnie remember Paddy from their shared past, but do not look on that past as their halcyon days… Each of these women leads a very different life and with her own distinctive style, tells us the story behind the story of charmer Paddy de Courcy.
I never like to share too much about the plot – why ruin it? But in this case, I will say that the stories of each of the women may start out looking like a light and fluffy tale, but soon enough, something more surfaces. At some point in the book we get a fifth narrative, the reader is not told who this narrator is, or when the story took place, keeping the reader guessing almost to the final chapters. The reveal is worth it. Unlike many Chick-Lit books, this one deals with the harsh realities – substance abuse, physical abuse, love, hate and betrayal all feature strongly. Maybe this is why the book got some bad reviews on bookseller websites. I do not agree with those reviewers. This was a beautiful book. Its ability to take the Chick-Lit genre to someplace different, does not take away from it, it makes it better.
I loved Lola and Grace’s stories the most, Lola with her fun journal like entries that would put Bridget Jones to shame, versus Grace and her more traditional narrating style, made this book for me. Lola for the fun factor, even though, there were moments where her story made me cry, and Grace, level headed, Grace, who surprised me at every turn.
In This Charming Man I learned that physical abuse can happen to anyone, that sometimes we do things that hurt us so much, but are afraid to speak out because we don’t want to be seen as weak, and that the strength to speak out is something we can find in the strangest of places.
This Charming Man is not a romance, so, it won’t be entered into the challenge, but it will leave you feeling … happy. I understand that another of Marian Keyes books Anybody Out There? is also not your run-of-the-mill Chick-Lits, I will definitely be putting it on my TBR pile. If this is the new direction Marian Keyes is taking – I like it!
P.S. I like my (British) version of the cover much more than the US version.
This book was purchased by Noa
Visit Marian Keyes website here.