Book Review: The Break

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The Break
Author: Marian Keyes
Published: 2017
Publisher: Penguin Random House
My Rating: 4.5/5

The Break is a story about the choices we make and how those choices help to make us.

Amy’s Husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving here. He still loves her, he’s just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all their life together. Six months to lose himself in South East Asia. And there’s nothing Amy can say or do about it.

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The Break  is from one of Ireland’s, and the world’s favourite authors – Marian Keyes. Brilliant, funny, and poignant, The Break tells the story of Amy whose husband Hugh, has decided he needs ‘a break’ from their marriage and their life together. But he promises it’s only for six months, and that he will be back.

It’s a great premise for a book. I can’t help remembering the ‘Friends’ episodes revolving around Ross and Rachel and their relationship break. Although Marian takes this idea of ‘the break’ and tackles it in her usual witty style that only she can.

As a writer, one of the first things that is drilled into you, is nailing the first paragraph of your book. There is no doubt Marian Keyes is an old-hand at this writing game; she nails the very first sentence. The book begins in the thick of the action, with the main character Amy, trying to process the news from her husband that he wants to take ‘a break’. This immediately draws you in and keeps you turning the page, and before you know it, you’ve finished the first three chapters. And then you’re gone – hook, line, and sinker.

Amy is such a glorious character. She’s the type of woman you could sit down with immediately after being introduced and be comfortable sharing your life story over a pot of tea. She’s warm, strong, sensitive, engaging, intelligent, funny, honest, and endearing. We all need an Amy in our lives.

But Marian is a master at creating not just one, but a full cast of brilliant characters, and The Break is certainly not short of these. It’s the perfect melting pot of every person you know or have met at least once. From Amy’s quirky mother – oh what a hoot she is – to the laid back, but troubled Hugh, and right through to the haughty ex-husband, all the characters are wonderfully rounded through voice, mannerisms, and quirks. I could totally see this being made into a brilliant movie with such a fantastic cast of characters.

The story itself is broken into three sections; the few days before Huge leaves for the break, during the break, and after the break when Hugh returns. Marian weaves backstory and flashbacks effortlessly throughout all the sections, so you feel like you get a fully developed story without being shown anything that’s not important. I did feel the middle section drag on for fifty or so pages, but after finishing the book, I understood how it was all necessary to the story as a whole.

The final section of the book was my favourite. It is written, as is the whole book really, with such tenderness and handles all the emotions and fallout of ‘the break’ perfectly. If I could rate the book in sections, the ‘After’ would be five stars.

This book delivers on everything you would expect from a Marian Keyes novel. And even if you’ve not read her previously, you will find a heart-warmingly told, measured story that you will fall in love with. I know I did.

 

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