6 July 2011

Book Review: All For You by Sheila O'Flanagan

As TV's favourite weather forecaster, Lainey is good at making predictions. But what she doesn't foresee is that her own life is about to hit a stormy patch. With a string of failed relationships behind her, surely history isn't about to repeat itself with her beloved Ken? To add fuel to the fire, her estranged mother announces that she's returning to Dublin. Deanna has always been dismissive of Lainey's choices - particularly in men. And Deanna's lectures are the last thing Lainey needs now. Yet is there more to her mother than she knows? Uncovering some long-concealed family secrets, Lainey begins to reassess her life. Is the happy-ever-after she's always dreamed of really what she wants after all?

I haven't read a Sheila O'Flanagan novel for a good few years, aside from a Christmas short story collection so I was quite excited to be reviewing her new release 'All For You'. I have to admit I'm not the hugest fan of the book cover, I don't think it really reflects the story inside very well and seems a bit too generic for me. However, I do think the brighter colours are quite welcome and update Sheila's books quite well. It's a big hardback book, at over 500 pages it isn't a short read but it is a good one.

I did mostly enjoy All For You, but there were a few niggles I felt could probably have improved the book slightly, well for me anyway. I did think it seemed very long, and it took a long while for the story to get going and to get anywhere, yet even by the end, it didn't seem to have moved on a great deal. There was no major event or turning point, it seemed to plod on to the end and I was wondering what had taken 500 pages to get there. However, I did find it enjoyable to read, it did keep my attention and I especially enjoyed the bits about weather, they were an interesting addition to the book and were certainly something different - I can't say I've read a lot about weather in chick lit before!

The character of Lainey was well written, and she's very likeable. She's passionate about her job, and this comes across throughout the book as it's frequently mentioned, but what she isn't so good at is love. Lainey falls too easily for the wrong men and is slightly obsessed about getting married, something a lot of women might be able to relate to! The relationship she has throughout the book with Ken (in my mind, he looks just like Barbie's Ken lol!) is awful and you wonder why she can't see what is happening, but I just think it makes her more normal, that she's blinded by her lust for him. Her mother Deanna isn't a nice woman, yet as the story progresses we start to understand more about Deanna and the decisions she made, so I liked how that story unfolded, as well as the non-existent relationship she has with Lainey.

I have to say I was surprised by the ending of the book, and I think it's great O'Flanagan has done something a bit different to the normal ending that you would expect from a book like this. I also found the narrative very easy to read; it's written in the third person so it can flit easily between Deanna and Lainey's present time stories, and eventually weave them together, but O'Flanagan also has a lot of flashbacks to Deanna's pregnancy and subsequent life after Lainey's birth too, and this works well to fill us in on what's gone on in her life. The book is set in both Ireland, where Lainey lives, and the USA, where Deanna currently resides, so it does move about, and I love O'Flanagan's descriptions of each place.

Overall, I did enjoy this book but as I say it did seem a little slow in places for me and it didn't feel like anything huge happened despite the long length of the book. That said, I can't really fault the overall story itself, it kept me wanting to read to see what things would happen as I progressed, and also how Lainey's love life would pan out as well! O'Flanagan manages to easily cover three generations in the book, and I think this book will have an appeal across the age ranges, young or old, you can enjoy this tale. The weather parts are fascinating, and I liked the little facts about cloud at the beginning of each chapter... Sheila has clearly done her research! A very good read.

Rating: 3.5/5


  1. sounds like another great O'Flanagan read and a definate must buy.

  2. Love reading the reviews on here but always feel disappointed if you don't give a mark out of 5!

  3. Sarah, the rating is now at the top of the page! In this case: Rating: 3.5/5

  4. Sounds okay. I may pick it up. Thanks for the review Chole.

  5. while i agree in parts with your review i struggled with this book unsure whether to continue or not as it was quite boring at times and i couldn't really recommend it to others.