Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Angels by Marian Keyes: a disappointing romance

I'm afraid that, for me, this book simply didn't have the cutting edge energy that I normally expect from Marian Keyes. Which was a shame as the first couple of sentences are lovely, but the rest of the story doesn't live up to its initial promise. In fact, the overall impression was one of jaded effort.

The problem stems from the fact that our heroine, Maggie, isn't actually that interesting and throughout most of the story doesn't have a cohesive personality to hang on to. Events happen to her - the discovery of her husband's infidelity, her flight home, and then the extended stay with friends in Los Angeles - without her really getting to grips with them or even changing as a result in any deep way. Maggie is - bless her - exactly the same rather facile and worryingly prejudiced woman at the end as she was at the beginning. I found it very frustrating as I kept thinking she might be on the verge of growing a personality but she never did. Indeed, much can be surmised from the fact that I kept forgetting what her name was and having to check ...

On the other hand, some of the secondary characters are far more interesting - I loved Emily and wished on many occasions that she could be the main character, as her story arc was far more gripping. It was just a shame that at the end of the novel Emily seemingly discards her personality and makes several very odd life choices which have had no lead-up previously. It's an opportunity missed for a really powerful end. The epilogue is rather teeth-clenchingly twee too, as is the resolution for Maggie, and this additional chapter could well have been missed out entirely, with nothing lost.

Still, there are one or two laugh-out loud moments, and Keyes makes the most of the Los Angeles setting. I would definitely have loved more scenes with the animal-obsessed film director, Larry Savage. In his three or four pages, he lit up the novel simply by being himself. I do believe, however, that I'm rather wearied of the Walsh family storylines. Oh well.

Verdict: 2.5 stars. Disappointing

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