The Woman Who Stole My Life

I’ve always liked the work of Marian Keyes. I’m sure that her sparkly, candy coloured covers have turned some readers off, believing them to be nothing more than shallow chick lit, filled with heroines who’s biggest problems are marrying the right guy and having enough money to buy shoes.

But those readers would be wrong. Keyes’ work is actually a lot more serious than I think she’s given credit for. Her heroines are often struggling with addiction, mental health issues, the death of a loved one, or abusive relationships. They are absolutely sprinkled liberally with laughs and some truly ridiculous escapades but I’ve never had trouble finding something of worth in her work.

So I was excited to read The Woman Who Stole My Life. This latest effort was vague on plot but I assumed that it was because giving too much away would ruin it. To an extent, I suppose that’s true. All I knew going in was that there was this man that Stella Sweeney met that would make all kinds of things happen.

The Woman Who Stole My Life was not what I expected from Marian Keyes at all but it didn’t exceed my expectations either.

In the very beginning, Stella is going on about karma and how she’s a big believer in it even though her artist husband, Ryan, thinks she’s nuts. As she’s driving around town, she slows to let a man in a range rover merge and ends up getting rear-ended and t-bones the car she was trying to help out.

Then it’s years in the future and Stella is back in her little Irish house with a surly teenaged son, worrying about money and staring at a blank computer screen, willing some inspiration to strike so that she can write her new book. The rest of the book is supposed to fill in the blanks.

And it does. There’s a bizarre medical situation with a rare neurological disorder that basically leaves Stella a prisoner in her own body (basically my nightmare) and her neurologist is the only one who can communicate with her, the same man, of course, who she t-boned that day months earlier.

The back and forth in time narrative didn’t work for me. Normally I’m up for that – I like seeing where a character has ended up as a way of trying to work out what happened to the earlier version. This time, it seemed unnecessary and confusing. It added pages and pages to this book that didn’t need to be added. I went through the whole book thinking that the title referred to Stella herself but the end revealed something completely different. Again, I would have been more than ok with that (I love when an author outsmarts me) but it seemed forced, rushed, like the proper foundation hadn’t been laid for me to get to this point.

I have come to expect plucky, cheeky, smart heroines from Marian Keyes. They can be kicked around by life but they always have something to redeem them, something that sets them back on their right path. Often they are surrounded by their hilarious supporting cast family (I’m thinking mainly of the Walshes, have you read any of the books to feature the Walshes?). I’m not used to a broken, self-pitying heroine who married a perfect twit and lets all the big decisions in her life be made by a man. I’m not used to it and I don’t accept it from Marian Keyes.

9 thoughts on “The Woman Who Stole My Life

  1. I have read several books by Keyes, two or three of which included a Walsh or two, I think. The one that stands out the most in my memory, though, is This Charming Man. The seriousness of one of the storylines really took me off guard – I wasn’t expecting to be so gutted by one of her books. But, the funny thing is, it’s also the one that made me laugh the hardest. There was one little part (I wish I could remember better, but I think it had to do with MC Hammer pants) that I could NOT stop laughing. Diary of a Wimpy Kid has done that to me a couple of times too. 🙂
    Too bad this one did not live up. Did I hear that about her last one, too?

    • YES. This Charming Man totally caught me off guard too. I think that’s the best one, even though there are no Walshes.
      The Brightest Star in the Sky also didn’t do it for me. The ending partly redeemed it but there was an element of it that was a little too far fetched for me and I just couldn’t. I’m hoping her next one, whatever it is, is more a return to what I love. The Mystery of Mercy Close was really good – unexpectedly moving too.

  2. Oh boo. I love the Walshes. I love how Marian Keyes can make me laugh and crush me usually with the same book. I totally agree with Naomi – This Charming Man was a perfect example of her ability to do that. Bummer – I think I’ll skip this and reread Watermelon which I’ve been wanting to do for years.

  3. Based on your reaction to this, I may have to give this author another chance. I did like that this book was deeper than the cover suggested, but I also thought the protagonist created most of her own problems. It really didn’t work for me!

    • YES. If she had just pulled herself out of herself she would have been so much happier. She was one of those heroines that is content to let life happen TO her and I can’t deal with those characters. Especially a modern one. No thank you. But her other books really are quite sharp – This Charming Man is excellent and anything featuring the Walshes is great.

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