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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2009
Cathy Kelly is one of three authors on my Irish-writer 'autobuy list', the others being Marion Keyes and Maeve Binchy. It's very rare that I'm disappointed with any of these; they have a gift for creating interesting characters with fascinating interwoven storylines.

This book is an exception, however. I was hopeful given Marion Keyes' cover-quote saying that this is one of Kelly's best with wonderful characters. Not. Yes, Ingrid - the most prominent character, wife of Kenny's magnate David and host of a prime-time TV political talk-show - is likeable and interesting, but she's surrounded by others who really didn't appeal at all. For once, also, the various characters' stories didn't gel for me, and the book's structure did not hang together.

Characters such as Kitty, Dara, Lizzie and others were irritating and unsympathetic. David, Ingrid's husband, was too much of a cypher in the beginning for me to form any liking for him, and I'm left wondering what Ingrid ever saw in him. As for Star Bluestone, the proclaimed lodestone of the book, I could have done without her and her flaky second-sight mumbo-jumbo.

Sorry, Cathy Kelly, but this book was considerably below what I'm used to from you and will be finding its way to the nearest second-hand bookshop.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
At the beginning of her authorship, Cathy Kelly's books were categorized as chick-lit, and although I have never quite agreed since I have always thought Kelly has her own unique style, her two latest books have clearly signalized a change.

With "Once in a lifetime" Cathy Kelly has taken the step from youngish, fun and bubbly to maturity and wisdom. I have always found that the Irish, in all kinds of art, have a special kind of magic, partly based on centuries of rich tradition, partly simply a trait in the Irish themselves. Whatever, it's there and it's special. And Cathy Kelly has got it in buckets.

In this book her storytelling is reaching deep into people's souls and far under the surface of life.

"Once in a Lifetime" is the story about TV presentator Ingrid, her husband David, owner of old distinguished department store Kenny's, and their two children Molly and Ethan. It's about Star Bluestone, the latest of the Bluestone women who for centuries have possessed magic abilities of various kinds. Star is perhaps the most fascinating character in the book. Living alone in the beautiful Bluestone cottage, surrounded by her dogs, orchids, interesting collections from her various travels and not the least her production of the beautiful embroidered Bluestone tapestries.There is Charlie, working at Kenny's cosmetic department and her family - and Natalie, searching desperately for knowledge about her long dead birth mother. And many, many more.

Over each chapter in the book there is a headline, a simple word of wisdom. Also, scattered about in the book are thoughtful advice and contemplations, for instance Charlie's written notes, helping her to cope and sort out her difficult relationships with her mother and sister, and helping the readers in the prosess.

My copy of the book is full of underlinings and marks. The book has not yet found its way to the bookshelf but remains lying on my night table as I need to have it close by for reference and guidance.

Is "Once in a Lifetime" a pageturner? To me, a pageturner AND a page-returner, since as much as I wanted to rush for answers, I was forced to stop on the way to ponder and think. There are so many flowers along this road which are impossible to ignore. One needs to stop and bend down to further search and admire.

Dare I say that with this book Cathy Kelly has found herself a place among the Irish classics? I think so. Old Irish myths wisely spun into modern life. The wonder of nature, love and life. And Kelly's all present trademarks, humour and warmth.

An important book by a great author, who has finally found her place.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 28 January 2010
I am an avid Cathy Kelly fan but found this book extremely hard going. She is normally a fun read and I always look forward to taking her books to read on holiday but this one was very disappointing. I found it difficult to get past the first chapter let alone the rest of the book. I have flicked through but I think this is one that I will not be able to complete which is not like me at all.
This has put me off buying anymore Cathy Kelly unless she goes back to het usual style of writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2010
Once In A Lifetime doesn't have the most promising of starts - Star Bluestone had talked to bees all her life - which made me think this was going to be a load of hippie rubbish. But it actually turns out to be better than Cathy Kelly's last few novels, although for me it still fell far short of the standard set in her early books.

It did take me around two months to plough though it, but that was more to do with me recently becoming a mother-of-two than anything to do with the book. It's OK, however in all honesty, I couldn't describe it as "unputdownable."

The Ingrid/David storyline was strong and the characters believable, although I thought the threat to Kenny's store and the fight to save it was somewhat underplayed. And I found the Natalie/Dara and Charlie/Kitty characters rather one-dimensional and the storylines about their mother-daughter relationships weak. Nevertheless, it hopefully promises a return to form by the queen of Irish chick-lit.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2010
I have struggled to read this book over many weeks i find it boring and uninteresting with only the odd section which holds my attention. If i manage to read more then a couple of pages each night i have come across one of those said sections, before i think why i am i reading this.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
I have always enjoyed Cathy Kelly books and this one is no different. This story involves Ingrid and David Kenny, David Kenny being the owner of Kennys Department Store. When tragedy strikes for Ingrid, her life is altered forever and as her children fly the nest she discovers a secret that shakes her to the very core. We meet all kinds of weird and wonderful characters in this story including Star Bluestone who has a magical gift along with a link to David Kenny, Natalie who shares a flat with Ingrids daughter Molly and Charlie Fallon who works at Kenny's. The story flows easily and you feel like you are really invilved with the people and their lives. As usual a great read from Cathy Kelly and I look forward to her next book.
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on 25 July 2010
At the centre of this book is Kenny's book store and David Kenny's who own's it. Its about a small community, a typical Irish Community where everyone know's everyone or through a connection once removed.

Ingrid, who is Davids wife and knows nothing about his hidden secrets including Star his ex. She soon finds out there is a lot about David which She didnt know.

There is a lot of characters in this book but Cathy Kelly manages to give us just the right amount of information about each one of them so its easy to follow. I would have liked to have seen more of Babe though (Davids 90 something year old aunt) who's quiet a character.

A good few people on her who ve reviewed the book say they couldnt get past the first few pages, I dont believe in reviewing a book which I have nt read completely. For the first 100 or so pages of this book Cathy introduces us to the characters of the book. Things dont really get going till after that in this story, so be patient, its worth it!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 3 September 2009
Few of the characters grabbed me although I did warm to Marcella and would have preferred her as a lead character. For some reason the author also chose to go back a generation and introduce a long-dead character as well as covering the youthful experiences of an older female character. It was a device which took away from the main story and irritated me. There were rather too many characters and altogether too much psychological interpretation of their behaviour. Everyone had to have their every act explained by harping back to their unhappy childhood. Time after time, I found myself thinking,' Get over it,' particularly with regard to the Charlie doormat. Ingrid, the main heroine was curiously blank and unsympathetic. It takes over a 100 pages before the main event occurs and when it did- a death- it was, for me, a letdown as a plot vehicle. I was not interested in Ingrid's husband, who never came to life any more than his wife did and I quickly got bored with the little department store that supplied so much of the backdrop. I don't quite know what Star Bluestone and her gift of seeing were doing in the story because she actually didn't contribute that much and a little bit of magic would have been a major improvement. This is the first time I've been disappointed by a Cathy Kelly book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2009
I'm afraid this was by far the worst book I bought for ages.
I had good memories of Winter evenings spent with other books by Cathy Kelly borrowed from friends. Unfortunately almost all characters in this book reminded me of stereotyped bad actors.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2009
I normally enjoy Cathy Kelly's books, even though she hasn't yet reached the great standards of other Irish authors such as Patricia Scanlan and Sheila O'Flanagan. On the cover there is a quote by Marian Keyes: "her best book yet". I disagree. From the beginning it is dead boring and the bit about Star nearly made me put the book aside there and then. Getting to the other characters raised the interest level a bit more but overall, a disappointing read. I flipped through the rest of the book.
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