Queen of chick-lit and author of bestsellers such as Watermelon, Sushi for Beginners and Angels, Marian Keyes is sure to retain her crown with the publication of her new novel, The Other Side of the Story. As well as being one of her better books, itís also probably her longest at over five hundred pages. Of course, it takes over five hundred pages to tell the three different womenís stories that make up the book.
Gemma Hogan is a party planner in Dublin who is trying to get over her best friend Lily stealing the love of her life. Her life gets even more complicated when her father leaves her mother for a younger woman. Her mother falls apart, and Gemma must move in with her and give up her active social life. This leads to a series of amusing emails she sends to her friend, who submits them to a book agent without Gemmaís knowledge.
Next is Lily, Gemmaís former best friend, who is now living with Gemmaís ex Anton and their new baby, Ema. Lily, the opposite of the man-stealing witch Gemma has portrayed her to be, has just written a national bestseller entitled Mimiís Remedies and is trying to deal with her newfound fame and soon-to-be fortune. Unfortunately, with Antonís carelessness with money, their future might not be as secure as they think.
Finally, we meet Jojo Harvey, Lilyís (and eventually Gemmaís) literary agent. Jojo is juggling a busy career with her affair with her boss, a married man with two kids. Jojo is riding high on Mimiís Remedies, but will it be enough to make her partner at her firm? And even if it is, will her lover ever leave his family to be with her?
Although these womenís stories remain mostly separate through the novel, they relate in important ways, and itís fascinating to see the difference between the way the characters describe each other and how they really are when they are able to speak for themselves. It also helps that all three characters are charming, vulnerable and entirely loveable in their own certain ways. A book like this (especially such a long one) could not survive without likeable characters, and this one has them in spades. Not only will the reader wants to know what happens next in each womanís life, but they will also be rooting for all of them to succeed up until the last page.
One of the true leaders in the field of womenís fiction/chick-lit, Marian Keyes has proven herself over and over with her tender, funny books about British and Irish ladies. Her reign will continue with the heartwarming and amusing The Other Side of the Story.