19 March 2017
Book Review: Secrets of a Happy Marriage by Cathy Kelly
Jojo, Bess's stepdaughter, has a point to make. Bess is not her mother, and she won't replace the one she's been missing every day for the last two years. And will she ever get the chance to become a mum herself?
Cousin Cari is a fierce career-woman who isn't unnerved by anything - apart from facing the man who left her at the altar, and he's on the guestlist. Her job has been a safe place to hide ever since - but is it time to let love into her life again?
Thanks to laughter, tears and one surprise appearance, the Brannigans might just discover the secrets of a happy marriage . . . But will they find out before it's too late?"
I was recently sent a copy of Cathy Kelly's brand new book Secrets of a Happy Marriage for review, and very much looked forward to reading it. Cathy's stories always make for wonderful reading, and the past few books I have read by her have been great, and so I had high expectations for this one. This book centres around one family - the Brannigan's, and the various people within that family. There's Bess and her new husband Edward, her step-daughter Jojo who is struggling with her own issues as well as the death of her beloved mother, her cousin Cari who is getting over her own heart-break, and a few more besides. With a big birthday celebration approaching, can Bess sort out the Brannigan's issues, or is it going to end in disaster?
I found this book very easy to get into from the beginning, despite the large amount of characters going on throughout the book. The Brannigan extended family is quite large, and they all make appearances throughout the book, and tell us about their various stories. The main ones throughout the book are Bess, Cari and Jojo, although the others pop up during the story. I liked Bess a lot, and felt quite sorry for her. Her only crime was to marry the man she loves, Edward, after years of being alone, and doesn't feel at all welcomed into the family by her new step-children and others. She was a strong woman outwardly, but you could tell she was crumbling inside. It was horrible to read but of course this is a common theme.
However, I could also understand Jojo's point of view, because she is still not over the shocking death of her wonderful mother, and doesn't want anyone replacing her in her father's affections. She's also struggling in her own marriage to Hugh, not telling anyone about their difficulties, so is shouldering the burden of it all by herself. It's quite a sad situation in many aspects because these women could get so much from each other if only they'd allow themselves to. Finally, there's Cari, another strong Brannigan woman who has had her heart broken by a man. Left at the altar, Cari is sure she will not ever make the mistake of falling in love again, but of course there are surprises around every corner.
I loved that Cari was a book editor, passionate about books and finding exciting new authors, and the book really showcases the job of a book editor, which is eye-opening if you don't know much about the process. Cari was very nuturing, excellent at her job, and certainly doesn't deserve how she is treated throughout the book by her colleagues, and I was really hopeful she would come out of it better off by the end. The relationship the family has with each other was lovely to read. Cari and Jojo were very supportive of each other, even if they do have their little tiffs and you can see how much Jojo adores her father, and her brother. Poor Edward was trying to juggle everyone and keep them happy, so I did have a lot of sympathy for him too.
Cathy Kelly's writing throughout the book was really good, I found myself being drawn into the world of the Brannigan's and their many dilemmas, and I always wanted to keep reading, to find out if the rifts would ever be healed. The book doesn't preach about how to have a good marriage, but highlights the importance of talking to each other, being honest and truly caring about the person and their wellbeing. Things like that can go a long way, as the characters in this book often discover. I thought all of the characters were excellently written, the drama is there throughout, and a surprise entrance near the end of the book is heart-warming and so well done. I really loved this book, and I think it's one of the best I have read by Cathy Kelly in recent years. A thoroughly enjoyable read, and one I can definitely recommend.