Marian Keyes’ work has always been a bit of a safety blanket for me- I remember reading Sushi for Beginners (my first of her books) units entirety at Leeds Festival. I read her novels during my first big bout of depression in my third year of uni after a bad breakup (there was a secondhand bookstall in Preston market that bought and sold paperbacks. I’d go every week, buying and selling Jackie Collins and Minette Walters books, after lectures. Then I’d buy a heap of junk food, go home, read and sleep until I had to leave the house for more uni work.) There was something comforting about Marian’s novels-characters were friends, I could relate to them. Slowly, I got better and knowing that there was a writer who understood made a difference, I think.
Over the years, I kept reading, although not with the frequency I had been. Then I saw this book and, following on from my newfound enjoyment of reading essays, I picked it up. It’s a collection of published and non-published work from magazines, newspapers and Marian’s website. I did wonder if the tone would have changed from the last collection of Keyes non-fiction.
Nope, it is a complete scream. If you follow Marian on Twitter (we have had conversations about our mutual love of Pasha off Strictly and I swear my current, raging addiction to interestingly flavoured Magnums is her fault), you will know what you’re getting here: plenty of funny anecdotes about family, friends and generally being Irish. It’s also written in a way that I can imagine Marian is talking (if you’ve ever seen her on TV or watched her YouTube videos, you’ll know what I mean!) That’s really her USP: friendliness and it shines through this book in droves.
For me, the highlights were the travel writing; I’m not sure if anyone else on this earth could persuade me that going on an Antarctic cruise to see penguins-even though I BLOODY LOVE PENGUINS- is a good idea. I also enjoyed the beauty section (obviously) and the account of actually meeting Aung San Suu Kyi. Actually meeting her!
Most of all, this book makes me want to go back and revisit those novels I read and rediscover those characters that helped me through dark times. Thanks, Marian.