“I should have learned mindfulness, and it’s too late now because it’s no good learning it when you’re already in crisis: you have to start when things are good. But only the very, very oddest would think, Hey, my life is perfect. I know! I’ll sit and waste twenty minutes Observing My Thoughts without Judgement.”– Marian Keyes, The Break
Title: The Break
Author: Marian Keyes
Publication date: September 2017
My rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit
Mostly spoiler Free, I talk about aspects of the book but nothing that gives the plot away as a whole.
I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of this book in exchange of an honest review. All views are my own.
I would like to thank NetGalley, Michael Joseph and Penguin for sending me a copy of this book.
The quote chosen above is my favourite quote in the book.
Amy O’Connell is living your typical modern life – harried, overfull and totally stressed out (more-than-occasional glasses of wine notwithstanding). Between a husband who has become withdrawn following the death of his father, three girls with various degrees of independence, a high-stress job commuting between Dublin and London, and the distraction of a colleague who may or may not be making moves on her – what’s a girl to do? Then Amy’s husband announces that he is taking “a break” – six months to go to the other side of the world and “clear his hand”. What the everlasting…..?
Overall opinion of the book:
Although Marian Keyes is a popular, well known author, I’ve never read any of her books before. When I saw The Break on NetGalley I decided to request it to see what her books are like. I like Chick Lit and the synopses intrigued me. When I actually started reading the book, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I was disappointed to say the least, especially given how many great reviews I read on Goodreads and it’s overall rating.
It just didn’t seem to capture my attention in the way I thought it would and I struggled to make a connection with the characters. This could possibly be because of the age difference between me and the protagonist, Amy. I’m 23, unmarried with no children, and she is in her mid 40’s, married with multiple children. I thought the age difference wouldn’t make any difference to how much I enjoyed the book, but I think it did slightly.
With this aside, for me there seemed to be too much going on in the book as a whole. On top of the main story arc of Amy and Hugh going on a break, the book also delves deeply into other issues that Amy’s family is going through. Without giving too much of the plot away, these themes include mental health, divorce, family relationships, abortion and Ireland’s stance on it, infidelity, alzheimers and her daughter’s career. While these topics are interesting and can add depth to the main plot of a story, Keyes seems to be trying to cover too much in this book.
These topics are often discussed more than the main premise of the book and I felt like they took away from the main arc rather than complimenting it. These themes made the story a little confusing to follow at times as there are so many characters and situations mentioned. I understand these topics were discussed in order to show how complex life can be and that although Hugh has decided to take a break from it, life carries on. However, some of this was unnecessary and longwinded in my opinion.
For me, the book was too much of a slow burner and quite often things were explained in a too much detail. Where some events could have been briefly explained, Keyes describes them in complete detail. While this is a great technique for some parts of the story, it felt repetitive in many places. The Break is a large book, almost 600 pages long and I personally think I would have enjoyed it more if it was half the length. If this was the case the story would have felt more fast paced and interesting to me.
I did struggle to feel empathy towards Amy and Hugh. I was angry at him leaving, but further into the story angry with Amy for some of the decisions she makes. Although you’re led to think Hugh is a bad person, the question is flipped, which was interesting. I do feel as though Amy was a little too melodramatic and over reacted a lot in the book, which did irritate me. She tended to play a victim role, when this isn’t entirely true. I often struggle to read a novel if I don’t gel with the main protagonist, and unfortunately this is what happened with The Break.
In regards to mental health, I wasn’t too keen with how it was depicted and approached in the novel. Many people may disagree with me if they’ve read the book, but I personally thought it could have been handled in a more sensitive manner. Instead it felt repetitive and briefly glossed over. I felt this way when the topic of Alzheimers was discussed also. It was approached in a way that was frank and real. While this isn’t a bad thing as it describes how families deal with it, I think the language used could have been more sensitive as it may upset readers who are going through a similar situation.
I did enjoy parts of this book however, especially the last third of it. I was intrigued by how it would end and although it wasn’t my favourite book to read, I still wanted to finish it. I was also quite content with the ending.
Keyes does capture the reality and complexity of life brilliantly in this book and I think she discusses abortion in a way that is appropriate and honest. It was eyeopening to read about Ireland’s stance on the subject and the complete contrast between Ireland and the U.K.
The spelling, punctuation and grammar were all great and I don’t remember there being any parts of the book that didn’t seem to make sense. Although there was a lot to follow, Keyes did tie up every loose end before the end of the novel which I always like authors to do. In my opinion, there’s nothing worse than having too many unanswered questions when you finish a book!
My favourite part of the book was following Amy’s career as a PR. It was insightful, interesting and to be honest sounds like a fun job to do!
Although this wasn’t the book for me, I can completely understand why slightly older readers who may be able to relate to the plot a little more would really enjoy this book.
I personally wasn’t a big fan of this book. It was too long and contained too many sub-plots which distracted from the main story arc. Although I can see why many people love Marian Keyes’ books, I don’t think they’re for me. I didn’t fully gel with any of the characters and apart from finding an interest in Amy’s job as a PA, I struggled to find an interest in the story itself. I would still recommend this book to fans of Chick Lit that may be slightly older than I am however.
Goodreads profile – https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/69229254-ashleigh-williams
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Book cover and synopses – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34511798-the-break?ac=1&from_search=true
NetGalley – https://www.netgalley.co.uk/
Michael Joseph and Penguin – https://www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk/publishers/michael-joseph/