The Other Side of the Story, by Marian Keyes
Crossed Women. Crossed Lines. Crossed Swords.
That’s the tag line of this wonderful novel by Keyes. Highly cynical about life, yet heart-warming and hilarious all the same, The Other Side of The Story tells the tales of three women – Gemma, Jojo and Lily – leading different yet interwoven life.
Gemma is a successful event planner in Dublin. Work was a nightmare, and when his Dad did a runaway on her mum, her life turns positively hellish. Things were looking all sunny from her side, and she took comfort confiding in Susan who lives far away. Night after night she escaped by writing stories on her life… not knowing that these very pieces will turn her life around few months down the road.
Lily is a so-so writer, a “boyfriend stealer” (or so Gemma would label her) who hit a miracle success in London publishing world with a story that is too good to be true. Ever the pessimist, Lily believes in retribution, and the tale traces her thoughts, fear and anger as her life took unexpected turn with Anton (the boyfriend), Ema (the out-of-wedlock baby), Irina (the Russian neighbour) and of course, Gemma and Jojo (how else would their lives be interwoven?)
Jojo is “viagra of the literary world”, a highly successful and ambitious literary agent who represented Lily. A love affair with her boss (Mark) took an unexpected twist and Jojo soon found, to her horror, that her career dream was suddenly snatched out of reach. Grieving and determined not to show any sign of weakness, she striked out on her own in a tale unlike any other – Gemma wrote a book that was “a band-aid equivalent in the literary world” and Lily’s third highly-successful book after a horrid second one.
I found the book to be highly readable and, compared to the Shopaholic series, was far more realistic, serious and easier to relate to. It was not one of those books that you couldn’t put down (I took my own sweet time in finishing it – 2 weeks), but yet it compelled me to write about it the moment I finished it.
The ending was kind of predictable, but kinda rushed when compared to the earlier, more-leisurely paced pages. Perhaps keyes suddenly ran out of idea to elaborate more on the three ladies (or maybe the book’s publishing deadline was looming – hey, I learned that from the book!).
What have I learned from the book?
#1 Love at first sight is possible
#2 Being large (like me) can be beautiful
#3 You can actually earn loads being a writer
#4 You can write stories of your life by renaming the “character”
My favourite paragraph from the book:
“‘One,’ I declared, listing on my fingers, ‘I think all men are bastards. Two, whenever I start listing things out on my fingers I get distracted by my nail colour, and three, now I’ve lost my train of thought – see! And three, I think all men are bastards.”
Freaking hilarious. And you get more doses of such chick-humour towards the end of the book.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
The book is available at Popular, Borders and Amazon.com