Thursday, March 2, 2017

Watermelon by Marian Keyes

Watermelon by Marian Keyes is a "chick-lit" novel I picked up because I'm reading about how to write in this genre. Before you scoff, do recognize that "chick-lit" is simply a niche of women's fiction characterized by a humorous approach to some fairly substantial topics. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (an obviously well-known nod) falls into this category; as does The Devil Wears Prada and Something Borrowed. These books treat subjects such as loss, betrayal, work-woes, divorce, even death, with an approach that by no means undermines the seriousness of it, but lightens it just a touch with an understanding that life will press on.

Marian Keyes is considered a substantial hitter in this movement so I felt obliged to pick up her first novel. Watermelon tells the story of Claire, a twenty-nine year old married woman whose husband decides that he is going to leave her on the day their daughter is born. Literally - he walks out on her IN THE HOSPITAL without even learning his daughter's name. And to top this - apparently everyone knew he was having the affair, except Claire. Why don't people tell??? With no other options, Claire returns to her ancestral home in Dublin with her parents and two siblings (she's one of five) that still reside there. Helen is a handful and Anna is an ethereal spirit that seems to float thorough life high. Her parents, well...they seem as overwhelmed as Claire by the downtrodden turn of her life. And within this amalgamated group of people, Claire finds herself again - much to James's (the horrible husband) dismay when he wants to return from the dark side. It's a lesson learned for everyone involved.

The premise of this novel is great; well not so much for Claire's life, but for a novel wrought with conflict and possible resolution. And I wanted to love it, but I didn't. 😦 Claire has undergone a lot  - A LOT!!! But, she whines and whittles away too much for me. She passes through unrealistic long-term battles with herself that droned on quite a bit. While it established the necessary understanding of her "coming of age" (albeit a bit late in life) and adult responsibilities, there were times it was excessive. Just when I'd think she was getting it together (for her child!), she'd lapse into a fit of despair that required tip-toeing. She didn't shower unless forced. She didn't wash her hair for a month - I think it was the hygiene loss that killed it for me. I could handle the attitude, the drinking, the self-deprecating even, but not the lack of hygiene. And her parents were so weak - allowed the younger siblings to just walk all over them - just horribly. That was difficult to read. My parents, even as "hippie" generation as they are, would NEVER have allowed this behavior in their home.

But, in true "chick-lit" fashion, there were moments that were funny. Keyes does write with a quippy wit that makes you laugh out loud about a serious topic like being left by the man you love on the day you bear his child. And there was the new man in her life, and their relationship is a bit comical given that Claire has some serious trust issues going on - and rightly so.

Overall I'd give this book ☕☕☕ and I will pick up the next book in the Walsh Family Saga just to see how the family dynamics play out.

For more about Marian Keyes and her books, visit her website at: http://www.mariankeyes.com/home

The very fact that she bases her stories in Ireland πŸ€is enough to keep me reading on!

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