Title: The Woman Who Stole My Life
Author: Marian Meyes
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Source: Penguin Canada on Goodreads First Reads (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check this book out on Goodreads.
Stella Sweeney is back in Dublin. After living the dream in New York for a year – touring her self-help book, appearing on talk shows all over the USA and living it up in her 10-room duplex on the Upper West Side – she’s back to normality with a bang. And she’s got writer’s block.
Stella wants a clean break as she didn’t exactly leave New York on a high. Why is she back in Ireland so soon? Who is it who keeps calling? Stella wants to get back to being the woman she used to be. But can she? And should she? (Source: Goodreads)
After contracting a mysterious illness, writing a book about it, and losing her book deal, Stella Sweeney is back in her hometown in Ireland living with her son and trying to put her life back together. Her ex-husband Ryan complicates things by deciding to give away all of his possessions. This book tells the story of Stella’s life before, during, and after her illness and writing career. All of this happens while Stella is swept up in something of a whirlwind romance with her doctor, Mannix.
I found this book to be interesting but not exactly my cup of tea. It felt too long, weirdly slow in some parts and too fast in others. The plot was confusing to me many times because I found it hard to understand the characters and their motivations. I enjoyed large portions of the book, especially the first half, but at some point lost interest in the book entirely and just wanted it to be over.
The plot moves around, somewhat randomly from past to present. It moves from before the illness, during the illness, after the illness, the writing career, and the present post-career. There’s a lot going on. There’s the illness, the divorce, the romance, career, children, Gilda, the depression. It gets a little confusing. I found the format just awful. It moves randomly, and is very jarring. The font changes to denote changes in time but just acts to make the change more jarring. The book is divided into 4 sections: Me, Him, Her, and Me again. It makes some sense but is broken up weirdly.
The plot itself is pretty confusing. Because it’s always moving around it just gets a little tangled and messy. Then to add to that, you don’t really know any of the characters so it makes the action and motivations hard to understand. Stella doesn’t trust anyone so you don’t get to understand or really like anyone else in the book. Even Stella annoyed me because she was so depressed and whiny. I just found the whole thing a bit of a chore rather than enjoyable to read.
The characters are also confusing and inconsistent. With the confusing motivation you just can’t know or like anyone. I didn’t connect with anyone. I found Mannix charming and intriguing to begin with but then increasingly annoying and less and less charming as the book continued. I think this also made the whole romance, which was the only good part of the book, fall apart. I think the characters were just inconsistently written as a whole, none of them had cohesive personalities and they were always in flux, never in ways that were smooth.
I don’t have a lot to say about this book, I found reading it a bit of a chore. The writing was smooth and moved quickly but it didn’t leave a lasting impression. I never really enjoyed reading it, just acknowledged that it was an okay book. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend, but if British Chick Lit is your thing this is probably in the right vein.