Hi guys, and happy Monday evening! We’ve almost done it – it’s almost Tuesday, yay! To make your Monday evening even more bearable I have a review of Cathy Kelly’s newest release – Secrets of a Happy Marriage – for you. I think everybody has heard about Cathy Kelly and read at least one of her books, right? She’s a real legend when it comes to the women’s literature and I am trully excited to be a part of the blog tour!
Secrets of a Happy Marriage by Cathy Kelly
Publishing Date: 9th March 2017
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!
Number of pages: 432
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
Number One bestseller Cathy Kelly returns with a sparkling tale of family, friends, and marriages in trouble, told with her trademark Irish wit, warmth and wisdom.
The wonderful and heart-warming new novel full of secrets, lies and family ties from Sunday Times bestselling author, Cathy Kelly.
Bess is hoping to show everyone just how happy her recent marriage is, but behind all the party-planning the cracks are beginning to show. Why is joining a family so difficult?
Jojo, Bess’s stepdaughter, has a point to make. Bess is not her mother, and she won’t replace the one she’s been missing every day for the last two years. And will she ever get the chance to become a mum herself?
Cousin Cari is a fierce career-woman who isn’t unnerved by anything – apart from facing the man who left her at the altar, and he’s on the guestlist. Her job has been a safe place to hide ever since – but is it time to let love into her life again?
Thanks to laughter, tears and one surprise appearance, the Brannigans might just discover the secrets of a happy marriage . . . But will they find out before it’s too late?
‘Wise, warm, compassionate and full of characters I loved … it’s like having a great gossip with your best friends’ Marian Keyes.
Cathy Kelly is the queen of writing about relationships between women – let them be friends, family or enemies, she can spot on capture them and fill the pages with feelings and emotions and all of them are always honest and genuine. Even though Ms Kelly’s last book was not my favourite one I was really excited to receive a review copy of her newest release “Secrets of a Happy Marriage” and couldn’t wait to start reading it, as I knew that I am for sure for a real rollercoaster journey full of secrets, feelings and relationship dynamics – just what I needed at the moment.
Right now, after reading so many Ms Kelly’s novels, I personally think that her older books are much better than her last releases, including “Secrets of a Happy Marriage”. There was too much beating around the bush for me and too less of something actually happening. But please don’t get me wrong – I liked the book, not as much as I hoped I will but still I liked it. There was something comforting in the words, and Cathy Kelly can for sure tell a story. The characters were also very well developed and even with the huge number of them I didn’t have problems to quickly see who is who and to whom they belong and what’s their story. They have many flaws, the characters, and probably this is what makes them so realistic. Cathy Kelly really knows how to write her characters in an interesting way and I really had a feeling that I know them inside out, with all their flaws, fears and secrets. I think that Cari was the one that I liked most. A great career woman, I absolutely loved how passionate she was about her job and the way she dealt with all the problems. However, she was not that lucky when it came to love – jilted at the altar – literally! – she still can’t open enough to trust another man. She was also a brilliant friend, she was loyal and she had rules. With Jojo, I had some issues. I mean, I know she was sensible and all the things and events happening in her life just were too overwhelming for her, and I could understand it, however the way she was behaving towards Bess and her father made me roll my eyes. She was over 30 and was like a kid, trying to do whatever it takes to change her father mind about his second marriage. All the time I wanted to tell her, be careful, girl, karma is a bitch, and actually who gave you the right to think you know best? Yes, I also felt sorry for her a little, what with the infertility problems but Jojo was also a champion of isolating people and well, there always comes a moment when people say okay, I’ll back off if you don’t want my help. And it happened to Jojo eventually. There is also Bess Brannigan, Edward’s second wife, the one Jojo thinks married her father only for his money. However, it’s not true and the readers can see it from the very beginning. Bess has her own business, has her own money, she was alone for so many years, raising her daughter Amy and now when she married Edward, she did it because she loved him. You can easily see he is her whole world, her life. And it made this woman so genuine, in my opinion. She still had her own life but she married this woman because she truly loved him – only Jojo couldn’t see it. Jojo was really messed up, both physically and emotionally and Bess was trying so hard to follow into Lottie’s footsteps, to fit in with the Brannigans but she also have never crossed the magical line, she never tried too much.
The story was about Edward’s seventieth party, but the actual party took maybe ten pages, out of over 500 pages long book! It really felt like a huge great introduction that, as it turned out, didn’t have an end. I just feel there was no climax in the book and it led to nothing, in fact. However, I kept reading, as one of my friends told me that after around 300 pages there is eventually something going to happen. But I felt that even after the 300 pages mark there was nothing in particular happening. But I thought, oh well, if I am so far into the book then I’m going to finish it. And I’m glad that I’ve read till the end, as maybe there wasn’t much happening but it felt as if the story has gathered pace a little and it was worth to see the end. It was a very happy end, let’s be honest, but it cheered me up no end as I think that the characters deserved it, and it was the end (yes, the whole 10 pages of it) that saved this story for me.
While Cathy Kelly explored a huge number of subjects in this book, such as second marriages, infertility, betrayals, friendship, family relationships, mostly I felt as if I’m reading about the same, over and over again, only in different words. I have nothing against the book being so “broadband”, with multiple points of view and subplots, but it must then deal with those subjects and not turn around in circles around them – and it’s my feeling that this is how it was with this story. There is also something in the book that I really dislike when reading – when the characters communicate, when they talk and ask question it mostly takes them five, six or more pages to reply to the question, to utter a word because in between it is full of retrospections, inner thoughts and considerations and often I had to turn the pages back to see what the question was because I’d forgotten it. Every character would all the time go back in time to reminisce, and the hugest part of the book was set in the past instead of focusing on this what’s happening now. I get it, we should get a glimpse into the past to understand what has driven the characters, of course I get it, but it’s just that with all the things – that – happened – in – the – past, the present was left behind. I also missed Cari’s confrontation with Traci at the party – was she there? Wasn’t she? There were so many feelings and it was just left, like this.
So it was a very character – driven story and I think because of the huge number of them I had problems to connect with them and I, for example, couldn’t be bothered by Faenia’s story. I think the book could perfectly work without this character. Yes, it was nice that she’s come back for the party but well, I’m sorry but I still couldn’t see the point of this storyline.
It was not a bad book, guys, and I didn’t not like it, I just couldn’t wait for it to get to the point. It described stories of thousands of characters and they were great, those stories, but because there were so many of them I had a feeling that the author just can’t pick on the one or two or three she wants to write most. But this way some of them were over – developed and some under – developed, and some just weren’t relevant to the story, which made the reading so much more trying. Maybe if the book really focused on the three main characters and their problems my rating would be different. There was so much potential in this book, and the story could turn out so, so exciting, with all the secrets, animosities, ex – boyfriend’s marrying cousins but there was just too much focus on the characters development, and while the characters were brilliant, the lack of the authentic story made it just a mediocre read. I wanted to love it, and there was so much potential to love it, and really, the raw way of writing about all the issues and lives made the reading very special and realistic.
What you also always get when reaching for Cathy Kelly’s book is the way she explores the relationships. She writes about them in such realistic, down – to – earth way. She analyzes them from every possible angle, she works them till the end and she leaves no space for vague hints or questions. Sometimes it doesn’t work, as you want your own space and place and a chance to make up your own mind but in this case I really liked it, it just fitted to the book and to the writing style, and the author created this way a complex, intelligent story, full of challenges and difficult decisions to be made. The lives of the characters were so sharply observed and described in a very detailed way. And they were complicated, the lives, they really were. Cathy Kelly writes about them with a lot of feeling and empathy, and she brilliantly deals with writing about all the issues she’s decided to put her focus on. There is a lot of sadness in this story, but also there is a lot of hope, and I truly liked how well balanced it all was. “Secrets of a Happy Marriage” is a complex, multi – layered story about marriage and money problems, loneliness, reaching for help and if you’re a fan of women’s fiction and Cathy Kelly I am sure you’re going to enjoy it!