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The Other Side of the Story Paperback – 10 Mar 2005
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The agent Jojo, a high-flying literary agent on the up, has just made a very bad career move: she's jumped into bed with her married boss Mark...The bestseller Jojo's sweet-natured client Lily's first novel is a roaring success. She and lover Anton celebrate by spending the advance for her second book. Then she gets writer's block...The unknown Gemma used to be Lily's best friend - until Lily 'stole' Anton. Now she's writing her own story - painfully and hilariously - when supershark agent Jojo stumbles across it...When their fortunes become entangled, it seems too much to hope that they'll all find a happy ending. But maybe they'll each discover that there's more than one side to every story...
About the Author
Marian Keyes is the international bestselling author of Watermelon, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, Rachel's Holiday, Last Chance Saloon, Sushi for Beginners, Angels, The Other Side of the Story, Anybody Out There, This Charming Man, The Brightest Star in the Sky, The Mystery of Mercy Close and The Woman Who Stole My Life. Her journalism, collected under two titles, Making It Up As I Go Along and Under the Duvet: Deluxe Edition, containing the original publications Under the Duvet and Further Under the Duvet, are also available from Penguin.
Marian lives in Dublin with her husband.
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First there's Gemma. She's an events planner who inadvertently writes a book after her dad suddenly leaves her mum for another woman. Gemma's mum puts her life on hold and the two of them spend an entire year simply waiting for him to get over his minor lapse in judgement and come home. Sure, Gemma's mum is more than a little upset, which serves as a handy vehicle for Gemma to meet the nice pharmacist who dispenses her mum's anti-depressants and sleeping tablets. But there is zero insight into how she actually feels about the fact that her husband of several decades just upped and left with literally no warning, not so much as a single discussion or argument. And when he waltzes back in a year later, now tired of his young girlfriend, he just slots back into his old life as if nothing ever happened. I found this completely ridiculous and more than a little infuriating.
Next there's Lily. Lily can't get over the guilt of "stealing" Gemma's boyfriend, Anton. I write "stealing" in quotes because she didn't really steal him, and this whole storyline feels a little forced and just kind of annoying.
Finally there's Jojo, the hotshot publisher having a long-standing affair with her married boss, Mark. This thread is by far the worst. It uses every cliche in the book (literally) - they didn't mean for it to happen, they tried to resist, they are really, truly in love, they don't want to hurt his wife but they just can't help themselves. And of course they both feel terribly guilty because...wait for it...they aren't really the kind of people who do this sort of thing. We are supposed to love Jojo because, aside from the fact that she is knowingly sleeping with a married man with two young children, Jojo is quite fabulous. We are supposed to understand her emotional plight and we are supposed to root for her success and cry at her despair.
And I could do all of that - I could love, or at least like, Jojo and all her fabulousness, except for one thing. Except for the fact that in a book called the other side of the story, I kept waiting to hear the real other side of the story. The story from the point of view of the cheated on wife. I wanted to hear from Mark's wife or Gemma's mum. I wanted to hear the story from THEIR point of view. Why not give them a voice? Why not share their pain and their world view? This book cried out for something to balance out Gemma's vacuousness and Lily's whining and Jojo being so utterly fabulous.
It wasn't a terrible book and if it had simply had a different title maybe I wouldn't have minded so much. But as it stands, I was left feeling as if there was something huge and important missing. I finished it, which I don't always do these days if I get bored of a book, but it left a bad taste.
The story follows three women whose lives cross at various points; Gemma, desperately trying to fix her parents love life so that she can get back to her own, Jojo, having an affair with a married man and wondering if it'll ever work out happily, and Lily, with a man she loved but who can't control his finances.
The wit, the dialogue, the three voices and the way they come together make this a great read. If you like chick lit, you will love Marian Keyes, and particularly this book.
I feel quite sad to have got to the end, and I'm now missing the three leading ladies and the telling of the bitter sweet circumstances that connected them. I love Marian Keyes' way of bringing humour and wit in alongside the more difficult life situations and emotions, and I also enjoyed some insight into the literary world that I wouldn't otherwise have sought.
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For that reason I recommend it.