The struggle is ongoing but Rachel is winning – or is she ?

It is now 25 years since Marian Keyes published Rachel’s Holiday which is one of a set of books each of which features a different sister in the Walsh family. They are all worth reading as each sister has a significant problem to address in their story and the author is amusing and insightful as she addresses them. This particular book and the story of Rachel who has developed a drug addiction and is in complete denial has always been popular and I reviewed it here. Now the author has released a sequel to this much loved book called Again, Rachel which features the same characters some years on from the events in the first book – I really recommend that you read these two books in order even if you have not read any of the other titles about the Walsh sisters.

I am glad to say that Marian Keyes has written a sequel every bit as good as the original, in my opinion. We find Rachel thriving at the start of this story having become a therapist at Cloisters, the same facility that turned her life around in the past. Sadly, her marriage to the lovely Luke has failed but she has a new boyfriend, a great job, her own house, a small dog and a sense of purpose. She also has a trainer collection habit and a fixation on bags that she can’t afford. Life has not always been good to Rachel since we last met her but she is proud that she has been clean from drugs for the whole period.

Although Rachel seems content with her life everything is thrown into confusion when she learns that Luke is returning to Ireland for the funeral of a family member. She still doesn’t really know why Luke left her and no one has ever taken the same place in her heart but she is determined to show him that she is doing just fine without him.

The story that follows is Rachel’s rexamination of her life and her understanding of past events which is not easy for her. The Walsh family play a large part in the story too and we catch up with the other sisters and with Mammy and Daddy Walsh as they reach a milestone anniversary. The residents at the Cloisters also feature the story and we follow their rehabilitation too. This gives us lots of characters and stories to follow, some funny and some sad, all of which slowly reveal to us the truth of Rachel’s past and why Luke left her. This is a book that will have you laughing one moment and crying the next. It is funny and sad and sometimes both at the same time. You really hope that this time things will end happily for Rachel but that isn’t going to happen until she really grasps and accepts what has happened and the reader has to follow her journey with her.

This is a more complex book than the original. In some places it seems like the recurrence of characters from the first book and the same setting mean that it is just a replay. It really isn’t because this book builds on the first story and the familiarities are part of the story. There’s a lesson too about the lifelong struggle of those recovering from addiction. It’s a clever and a very rewarding read.

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