My all-time favourite chick lit book is Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes. It’s funny, truthful, sad, sexy and beautifully written. It deals with the issue of addiction with compassion and hope. And it has one of the all-time great heroes in it, Real Man Luke Costello and his amazing tight leather trousers.
I first read Rachel’s Holiday when I was in bed with the flu. A friend brought me a bagful of Keyes books to make me feel better. I gobbled them up, one after another, and my friend was right: I laughed and I cried and I felt much, much better. That was my one of my first lessons in the power of feel-good women’s fiction, and it was one of the things that inspired me to write it myself.
In March, I was lucky enough to be chosen to give away 48 copies of Rachel’s Holiday for World Book Night. I gave them in gynaecology wards at my local hospital – the same one where I was treated for miscarriage several years ago – and at a local hospice. It was an important thing for me to do. I believe that chick lit doesn’t just have to be a fun, easy read: it can tackle serious issues, it can take the reader away for a few vital hours, and perhaps most importantly, it can let her borrow someone else’s happy ending when her own life might not be so happy.
Julie Cohen, right, moved from America to the UK in the furtive hope that she might nab a Beatle. It hasn’t happened yet but she lives in hope. Her latest book, Getting Away With It, is the story of a failed stunt woman who takes over her perfect identical twin sister’s life when her sister disappears. It’s out in paperback with Headline Review. Her website is www.julie-cohen.com.
My favorite chick lit novel, hands down, is Rachel’s Holiday by the incomparable Marian Keyes. It’s just SO GOOD. It blew me away when I first read it. There’s just no other book that’s lived with me as long and as well. I love it every time I re-read it, even though, now, I am less shocked by all the twists and turns. The first time I read it I was as stunned as Rachel was by what seemed to be so unfairly happening to her – and stunned even further by the way it all turned out. (Does that say something about me? Food for thought!) I’ve studied this book. I’ve taught it in classes. It has one of the best first lines I’ve ever encountered – one that brilliantly sets up the entire book, Rachel’s character, and where she needs to go – all in one elegant sentence. Oh, and I’m completely in love with that delicious Luke. Who wouldn’t be? I could go on and on and on. Honestly? I think Rachel’s Holiday is a masterpiece, and I think I’ll settle in for another re-read right now.
USA Today bestselling author Megan Crane has written six chick lit/women’s fiction novels, a bunch of work-for-hire young adult novels, and a lot of category romances (under the name Caitlin Crews) since publishing her first book in 2004. Her latest book, I Love The 80s, is out right now in the UK and can bought here no matter where you happen to live.
Now, I’m predisposed to love Marian Keyes. She’s Irish. Her eyes twinkle. She’s gorgeous but not intimidating. She bravely and publicly campaigns against her personal demons. With her gloriously cracked sense of humour, she’s one of the few authors who can make me laugh out loud. And of course, Marian is the original Chick-Lit Queen. I remember finishing Watermelon and thinking I’d never read anything quite like it – and wishing I could write like her.
I love all Marian’s books – especially the ones before the Walsh family hit puberty and ran off the rails a bit – but Rachel’s Holiday was the first that dealt with more than how to cure a broken heart with a handsome, considerate studmuffin.
Rachel is a recovering addict. Initially, Rachel’s first-person account almost has you believing there’s a family conspiracy to ruin her totally fun life by checking her into a clinic. As the story progresses, you come to understand the extent of Rachel’s problem and the deluded psychology behind addiction. And of course, there is a handsome, considerate studmuffin in leather trousers.
Rachel is such a fabulous anti-heroine – which always appeals to me – and the book is so cleverly written. It’s a unique perspective on addiction: harrowing yet somehow hilarious; deep without any serious danger of drowning.
After reading Rachel’s Holiday, I graduated from Marian Keyes fan to full-scale girl-crush.
About Niamh: I write in between caring for my ailing Siamese fighting fish, and threatening my inner child with yang and the more menacing chakras. I’m a corporate escapee who has never been framed for sabotage but has successfully framed others. My published books include Smart Casual (2009) and About Time (2010) both published by Little Black Dress Books/Headline Publishing. I’m currently working on my third and hoping at least one publisher is drunk when it’s submitted.