Saturday, October 11, 2008

This Charming Man

Oh Marian Keyes. Are you okay? I ask because, first you put out Anybody Out There?, which threw me for a loop because what is someone so funny and charming doing writing an entire book about death and grieving? But I went along with it. I didn't really enjoy it, but I went along with it. But now you come out with This Charming Man and I don't know... it left me unfulfilled. And kind of confused.

This Charming Man is about domestic abuse. It follows four different women and slowly unravels their connections to one man, Paddy deCourcy. Here are all the reasons why this book confused me:

1. Why are all the characters in this book named things like Paddy, and Bid, and Treese, Leechy and Bridie? Why? Granted I know only two real Irish people, but their names are Eddie and Gillian so I know for a fact that it's possible to be born in Ireland and have a normal name.

2. This book is about a serious issue, right? Then what is up with all the side stories about trannies and fashion? While entertaining every now and then, I found them mostly confusing. It was like she couldn't make up her mind whether to write a funny chick lit book or to confront a serious social ill. So she did both.

3. Why was Lola's story told in a weird pronoun-free language? Example: "Was plunged into wretched despair, almost as bad as desperation had experienced during cheerless Christmas dinner with Dad and Uncle Francis. Had come to Knockavoy to escape shambles of life, to hide out until restored to mental health, but unexpectedly had become happy here." What is Marian's problem with the letter "I"?

4. If you're going to contrive a happy ending, I think that it should involve the imprisonment of the woman beater. I feel that this is only fair of me to ask. Instead, we're supposed to be satisfied with the fact that his career is ruined? This is not enough I say!

I don't know. I realize I'm probably being unduly harsh on Marian. The thing is, I love her. Perhaps this is why I'm disappointed by what is actually a decent enough book. It's just that I hold her to a higher standard than that. I wanted to laugh out loud and surround myself in words like bum and knickers and wobbly bits. Not wallow in a sea of domestic abuse, depression and alcoholism. Maybe Marian is evolving and I'm not. I've been left behind in the dust, wishing for the good old days when all she wrote were light and fluffy books.


Maree said...

I agree. I love Marian Keyes irrationally, but This Charming Man ...oy
I think the pronoun-free Lola sections were meant to be in diary form; sort of like Bridget Jones' Diary. And yes! Why wasn't he humiliated AND arrested? Why???
It won't stop me from buying her next book (or making off with it from the book cupboard at work, like I did with this one) but I do wish she would lighten up ... just a little bit.

Karen said...

I agree too - I was really disappointd with this book. I am a huge fan of Marian Keyes and have loved all of her books. I think there has always been an element of the serious issue in all of her books but I just felt she totally botched this one.

Bybee said...

I've never read this author but I was attracted to the novel because of the title...I'm a big Smiths/Morrissey fan.

raych said...

I don't think I've read anything by Marian Keyes, but this doesn't inspire me. What has she written that's awesome?

Pronoun-free writing? I would stop right there (ok, we all know I wouldn't, but I'd SERIOUSLY consider it).

And yes. Jail the woman beater. Also, slice off his nads.

Jill said...

Raych - I'd recommend Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married or Watermelon as a first Marian Keyes read. Watermelon is the first in a semi-series. After Watermelon, I think there's Angels and Rachel's Holiday. The main character in Watermelon has a bunch of sisters and basically each of the other books is narrated by a different sister. This is NOT high brow literature, but I love her funny Irish dialogue and her old books were hopelessly romantic. Sort of a smarter, less vapid version of the Shopaholic series.