I find Marian Keyes’ books variable although I have enjoyed most of them. Her series about the five Walsh sisters I consider to be her best and Rachel’s Holiday probably the best of those. You don’t have to read the books in order as they are self-contained but if you do this is the second, after Watermelon. The Walsh sisters are Irish and each of them has something horrendous or life changing which happens to them in the course of their book (death, divorce, mental illness, etc.). In Rachel’s Holiday Rachel takes a drugs overdose and finds herself in rehab. This is a book that deals with serious issues but I promise that it is not depressing or downbeat in any way.
As Rachel is admitted to rehab she has to reassess her life choices and addiction. She has been a single girl in New York enjoying the lifestyle, evenings out, drinking and drug taking. She has also formed a relationship with Luke who is an excellent young man and also Irish. During the course of the book Rachel tells her story of her life in New York and the reader can see that actually this is an empty and unfulfilling lifestyle and that Rachel is hiding all manner of truths about herself. It is heart-breaking to watch her life begin to fall apart and to see what she does to try and stay in control. In between the New York story is her life at rehab which is not the celebrity filled recreational centre she imagined. Rachel has to come to terms with why she behaved the way that she did, with why drugs were the way out for her and how she may be able to pick herself up and start a new life.
This book will make you laugh and it will also make you sad as you think about what Rachel has done and why. In places you wince as Rachel describes her behaviour and you realise that she is not seeing things clearly. Eventually this book will make you cry – especially when Luke faces Rachel and explains how her behaviour made him feel. The story is a roller-coaster of emotions and I admire the way that the author helps you to keep sympathy for Rachel despite some appalling behaviour.
The author has been open about her own addiction issues and this makes this book seem very authentic to me although I have no first-hand experience of the problems that plague Rachel. You may find, however, in the descriptions of the various therapy sessions, something that resonates in your life or the life of someone you know.
This book is sold as chick-lit or Women’s fiction which should not in any way define it. It is a funny book but it deals honestly with some really tough subject matter and the end result is an engaging and meaningful read. I highly recommend it.