"Lessons in Heartbreak" truly has more sadness than gladness, as all aspects of heartbreak are thoroughly told and analyzed.
Three women from the small Irish town Tamarin and three love stories. Izzie, who has lived in New York for ten years, falls in love with Joe who is separated from his wife!! In Tamarin, Anneliese, originally from Austria, is left by her husband of 37 years, Edward. And Izzie's 95 year old grandmother Lily, has a painful love story in her past, unbeknowst to anyone in her family.
As we follow the three womens' joy, sorrow and heartache, there is little room for Kelly's usual joix de vivre. Of course, there is not much room for fun and laughter in the midst of so much unhappiness. But still, as wisely and with much insight the many aspects of unhappy love are told, I miss the usual Kelly sparkle. No matter how rough the going, there are usually always room for a few laughs in her books, funny remarks thrown in which make you crack up.
I admit I have been used to Cathy Kelly's books as lessons in happiness rather than heartbreak. Maybe that's unfair but I think the overall positive and lighthearted stories are what she does best and which have made her books such pageturners.
This one is not. For the first time, I skipped pages. After all, the "falling in love with a separated man" story has been told numerous times before. Anneliese's story of depression is tough and complex, and could fill an entire book in itself.
One part of the book which truly caught my interest, was granny Lily's secret love story. There was fire and passion when levelheaded young nurse Lily met Jamie, the love of her life, during World War II. But the story was cut short and Jamie was mostly the mystery waiting to be solved by the family as Lily lay dying.
Also, the book touches the issue of skinny - anorectic/bulemic - models in these fashion mad times. Izzie and a friend opens an agency for plus-sized (= normal sized) women in New York, a great success. Yet, also here there is material for a totally separate book.
If this book is a first attempt at a different direction in her authorship, Kelly has not succeeded. Many see Cathy Kelly as a typical chick lit author. I don't think so. Her previous books are so much more than that. I think Cathy Kelly has created her own unique style with that very special sparkle of hers, packed with funny remarks, self irony and "devil may care" attitude.
Heartbreak is a part of life most of us experience sooner or later, but I hope Cathy Kelly goes back to writing more upbeat books with that irresistible sunny flair of hers. About life, not fairytales, simply the wonderful Kellyish style I have come to love so much.