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on 10 January 2005
Let me begin by saying that I cannot stand 'Bridget Jones's Diary: A Novel'. Although they are marketed to the same demographic, there is no way should you confuse Keyes with Fielding's neurotic, pathetic, 2D schlock.
Sadly, when I first read 'Last Chance Saloon' I was in the confident bloom of my twenties & its truths went straight over my head. My verdict at the time was that it wasn't as engaging as 'Watermelon' or 'Rachel's Holiday', but having re-read it five years later I bow my head in shame. Keyes clearly has some Irish gypsy mojo going on that she was able to predict my (and many others') future so well. If I had paid a little closer attention to the incredibly human detail of this novel, I might have saved myself three years of the confidence dissolving agony that comes with dating & then being engaged to a manipulative loser.
My lesson from this? I've resolved that the next time I think I'm in love with someone, I will read a Marian Keyes novel & have a long hard think about it.
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on 21 December 2005
I was given a dog-eared copy of this book while in a rehab centre in Dublin and found it wonderful. The book is written on Marion Keyes own experiences and manages to give an incredibly accurate account of "life inside" without being bogged down with sentamental tales of suffering or sounding like a martyr. It is uplifting, funny and very honest. I for one found it a great help in my recovery, and would even go so far as saying, the fact Rachel is so funny and normal she helped me admit I had a problem and not feel like a freak ! I also lent it to my mum and sisters to help them understand my state of mind at the time. If you or anyone you know has a problem with drugs or alcohol please buy this book, and if you don't, buy it anyway. It's really good. I have read everything she has published since, she is a fantastic storyteller !
ps and that original copy is still doing the rounds as far as I know !!!
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on 2 August 2006
I loved this one (as all of Marian's)... I saw another reviewer saying that she was awake until 3am to read on and find out what happens - but I'm even worse, as I stayed up until 3am (well, 2am to be precise) to RE-READ the book!

The three stories of the main characters touch upon different life situations which most of us have come across one way or another, and are therefore very touching. However, even the serious situations are made lighter through Marian's usual and well-loved humour.

The underlying message that we should enjoy our life is very strong - and useful...

A very good read!
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on 11 July 2004
Having read Rachel's Holiday for the first time 5 years ago, I've since read and re-read it and I just never tire of it. It's more than a girly read. It has more depth than that. I've read all Marian Keyes books and this one by far is her best and strongest novel. However if you plan on reading Rachel's Holiday (which I strongly urge you to do) first read Watermelon,Rachel's Holiday and then Angels. They are a triology of (what I hope will be 5 books) 5 sisters. The Walsh sisters. Claire (Watermelon), Rachel's Holiday (Rachel) and Angels (Maggie). I'm already looking forward to reading about Anna and especially the hilarious Helen.
(PS There was a tv drama based loosly on Watermelon which was awful and not a patch on the great read that it is - that's just by the by!)
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on 17 August 2006
At times you find yourself getting increasingly frustrated with the characters Katherine and Tara and their inability to move on from relationships that have had or are having a bad effect on their personalities and preventing them from being the sort of women they think they are, strong and independent.

But everyone can relate to this inability, this self destructive tendency we have instilled in us to use as a defence mechanism when our relationships are not going as planned. But while this book raises important issues it also approaches them in a light hearted easy to read way with some witty observations.
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Excellent ! This was the first of Marian Keyes books I have read and thoroughly enjoyed it. Laughs from start to finish with an excellent storyline. The characters are strong and well defined with the right amount of description, sympathy etc for each. I shall certainly be reading more of her books and would think that she would appeal to most female readers.
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on 27 May 2013
Chick-lit isn't a genre I often read, although I have dabbled here and there in the past. The few chick-lit books I've read previously have been enjoyable enough to keep me turning the pages, but I just haven't found them particularly rewarding. They are books that have proved instantly forgettable as soon as the back cover is closed. But I have seen interviews with Marian Keyes on chat shows in the past and have always found her to be an endearing and witty woman. I am also aware that she has spoken frankly about her own experiences with addiction and depression. So I was intrigued to see how she would put a fluffy, typically chick-lit spin on the very not-fluffy subject of substance abuse.

Rachel Walsh is a 27-year-old girl who has flown the nest and left her humdrum Irish family life behind her to live a more glamorous existence in New York City. She spends her nights going to stylish parties and networking with the beautiful people, and scrapes through the days trying to hold down a job while nursing a perpetual hangover. But after one near miss with a bottle of sleeping tablets the rug is well and truly pulled from under Rachel's feet and she's shipped back to Ireland minus one boyfriend, one job, most of her dignity and, oh, the contents of her stomach, which had to be pumped in hospital. On her arrival back home her parents have already booked her into a residential rehabilitation centre and won't take no for an answer. And after some mild protesting, Rachel decides it can't be that bad after all. She's read the tabloids - these places are full of rock stars, supermodels in giant sunglasses, jacuzzis and health food. Rehab is just a glorified holiday, right?

But of course, she quickly realises that The Cloisters isn't like the rehab she has read about in her trashy celebrity magazines. Keyes has created a lively and varied cast of characters in The Cloisters that are a pleasure to read about. They are young and old and hail from all walks of life. You can tell that she has tried to smash the myth that addiction only affects celebrities or the socioeconomically deprived, and she has done it well - all of the residents are very convincing. The dialogue is warm, funny and sad in equal parts. I particularly loved that she doesn't really fall into the trap of describing addiction as something seedy or scuzzy. So many other authors have done this and I find it has the effect of removing the reader from the situation and making you feel like a spectator, thinking "gosh, how awful, well it would never happen to someone like me". Whereas in Rachel's Holiday the matter-of-fact writing makes it clear that any ordinary person can become an addict and can normalise their behaviour to make them feel it's a standard part of their daily routine.

Rachel herself is also a very engaging and believable protagonist. It is remarkable how a character who behaves so badly and disrespects her loved ones so much can actually be very likeable at the same time. I couldn't help feeling for her as her life falls apart while she is so blind to her own responsibility for her problems. Unfortunately I did begin to tire of her towards the end of the book, though, and on reflection feel that I would have been happier if the whole thing was maybe 100 pages shorter.

All things considered, I was very impressed by Rachel's Holiday and would be up for reading other books by Marian Keyes at some point in the future. I would be interested to know of other books she has written that address similarly weighty issues in a light-hearted way. It really challenged my preconceptions of what chick-lit is and what subject matter it 'should' tackle.
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on 19 February 2004
I am not a huge fan of this new breed of so called "Chick Lit", however, whilst browsing in a local charity shop for a good book, something that takes me ages normally, I spotted Last Chance Saloon by Marion Keyes and thought, what the hell, read it and see what all the fuss is about. I took it home and literally couldn't put it down, I have read it and reread it and I love it so much it would have to be in my top ten of best books ever. The characters are so real, from Tara, with her awful relationship with Thomas and her obsession with food, to Katherine and her cold demeanour and her eventual thawing with Joe. I loved it, I hated Lorcan and was so happy when he met his comeuppance. I have bought more Marian Keyes and am in the process of reading them as we speak. Long Live Chick Lit!!
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on 9 December 2005
If you want a book that will make you laugh and cry, then this is the one for you. I loved this book and I couldn't put it down. The best line in the book has to be the one that follows Tara's body wrap experience commenting that she looked like she had just been exhumed. As I had just had a body wrap myself and knew all to well the exhumed look, I was almost falling off the chair laughing at this observation. There were many more observations that had me nodding and laughing in agreement too.
There is also an underlying message in this book that life is short and that we should make the most of it whilst we have it. I would love to read this book again. If you buy this book you certainly won't regret it.
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on 13 June 1999
I first read Keyes in hospital during my pregnancy. it was Watermelon, and I hadn't laughed so much in years. After reading Lucy Sullivan, I eagerly grabbed my copy of Rachel's Holiday and tucked in. This book didn't disappoint. On the contrary, I could not put it down. The story grabs you. Having read Watermelon, I felt as if I already knew the family and the old familiar feel helped to jig the story along. Rachel seems so sweet, but a bit like every girl I've known. Where Keyes really excels is that Rachel is an addict and we see life from her point of view. It is scarey. Like a rollercoaser out of control at times. Yet Rachel has a problem and Keyes really gets at the heart of it. This is a truly wonderful read. it is therapeutic, and should be given to all people trying to quit a habit. perhaps doctors should prescribe it on the NHS! BUY, BUY, BUY!
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