[I received a copy of this book from its publisher Penguin Canada as a part of a blog tour. This does not affect my opinion of the novel.]
I feel like I say this a lot, but I can’t believe this was only my first time reading anything by Marian Keyes. As an author with over 15 books under her belt, it seems like everyone has read something by her at least once, so I have no idea how she’s slipped through my reading history for so long. But, that being said, I’m grateful that I had a chance to read her newest book, The Woman Who Stole My Life, because it was an “unputdownable” book that I enjoyed immensely.
The Woman Who Stole My Life is about Stella, a recently-separated self-help book writer who has recently moved back to Dublin from New York. When we meet her, she’s in a bit of a rough place as she struggles to write her second book, reconnect with her son, and readjust to living in her hometown after her whirlwind adventures in New York. As the book progresses, we get to learn more and more about Stella’s past and eventually, we figure out who “the woman who stole my life” is referring to.
I wasn’t expecting to love this novel as much as I did. Judging by the description on the back cover, I thought it would be a typical story of a woman waking up with in a (more glamorous) stranger’s body after a life-altering car crash. However, the car crash only played a minor part in the book, and I loved reading about the real incident that caused her life to change. I loved it so much that I read my 531-page copy in three nights.
The thing I enjoyed most about The Woman Who Stole My Life wasn’t the humour or the steamy scenes, but its observations around artists and creating art. Stella’s (soon-to-be) ex-husband is a conceptual artist who has had to put his visions on hold for a more practical job; Stella “wrote” her first book but is struggling to write another; and the many people she meets in New York are all a part of the art “machine”, trying to make their way or stay in the industry. What happens when one half of a couple creates more successful art than the other? What happens when inspiration runs dry and competition is getting tougher and tougher? The Woman Who Stole My Life gave me a lot to think about in terms of striving at making it artistically, feeling threatened by the lack of success, and the competitive nature that plays into a lot of our insecurities.
On a whole, I really enjoyed the book. I think I have a soft spot for characters who are struggling because even though Stella doesn’t have it all together and can be a bit wild sometimes, I still liked her and wanted to see her succeed. It was fun to read a bit of Irish slang and to try to decipher what “gas” meant (“feck” and “fecking” were a bit easier to get!). The only thing I would have liked to see more of was Stella’s son Jeffrey. We learn that he’s not an ordinary boy, and I really wanted to find out more about him.
Verdict: A book that took me surprisingly little time to finish – I just couldn’t put it down! It has all the makings of a great women’s fiction/chick lit read plus some very interesting thoughts and observations of being an artist. This would be the perfect book to read during the holidays or when you’ve just read something really serious and want to enjoy something fun.
Read if: You love Marian Keyes or are curious about her, want to read something light and fun, want to find out who’s the woman in the title and whose life they stole.