21 August 2008

Book Review: Lessons in Heartbreak by Cathy Kelly

"Izzie Silver left the small Irish town of Tamarin behind her for life in New York. She's big, beautiful, and dreams of her own model agency for plus-sized women (what her grandmother would call healthy.) Life is good -- but she's just broken one of her cardinal rules and fallen for a married man. On the other side of the ocean, Izzie's aunt Anneliese discovers the pain of infidelity for herself. Her husband Edward has been having an affair with her best friend, Nell. Devastated and angry, Anneliese is facing the realisation that she is now alone. When Lily, the matriarch of the family is taken ill, the family must put their own problems aside. Izzie, intrigued by her grandmother's past begins to discover things she never knew about wise, calm Lily. Annaliese feels despair build as Lily, the one person who could have helped her, starts to slip away. And the lessons each of the women learns -- past and present -- bring both joy and heartbreak. Lessons they will carry with them forever."

The book flips between New York and Ireland, whcih makes for interesting reading, but Cathy Kelly has such a way of writing that you don't struggle with the movement in the book, and it flows incredibly well, so much so that nothing seems out of place and blends so nicely. The book is written in the third person, which I think enables the ease of movement in the story and allows for the author to delve into the thoughts and feelings of each character without it taking over too much. Oh, and as well as the global movement, we also move through time in the book, flipping back to Lily's childhood in World War riden Britain. It was actually these flashback chapters I enjoyed most in the book, as they were so detailed and you could totally lose yourself in Lily's world, amazingly written.

The plot of the book isn't the most cheerful, and consequently doesn't make for the happiest of reading either. As the title suggests, the book is about heartbreak, and how this has taken its toll on each of the character, and how we are all affected in different ways. Izzie for example, she works like a trogan to get through her grief, whereas Annelise is much more emotional and delicate, and this really comes through when you are reading. Lily on the other hand, is much more of a mystery and you have to wait until you are quite a way into the book for the story about Lily's heartbreak to become more obvious, but it truly is a real love story.

The characters are very well-written and I enjoyed the chapters based on each of the women. Strangely, although they are all family, the characters are rarely in scenes together through the book, and somehow this works. We get to see them as individuals, and also as family members, and the true characters really shine through. They are all different, yet fundamentally the same and they are so realistic and believable, you can just feel their emotions with them and sympathise. It is a talent of Kelly to write in such a way where you feel emotionally involved with the characters, and her realism really hits home when reading her novels.

I did enjoy this book a lot, although I must say I felt relieved when I got to the end of the book. At 464 pages, the book is pretty long, and although it is doesn't drag and bore you, it is quite tiring and draining to read, as the books really pulls on your emotions and draws you in. It isn't the happiest read, because the characters are going through heartbreak but at the same time, it is incredibly realistic and readable, and also very consuming. If you enjoy an engrossing novel which leaves you feeling a bit drained but also that you've been on a real journey, I'd recommend that you tried this one. A great read, if a little depressing, but it makes you grateful for what you've got! 

Rating: 4/5

No comments:

Post a Comment