WHAT SHE WANTS
Dutton, June 2003
Reviewed by Sissy Jacobson
England and Ireland/ Women's Contemporary
At his fortieth birthday party, Matt's wife learns that he is taking a leave of absence from his advertising job, and moving to Ireland for a year to write a book. Hope is hurt because Matt has not mentioned it to her, and devastated because she thinks he is leaving her and their two children in Bath. When she finally works up the courage to confront Matt, he explains that he has no intention of leaving his family in Bath. They will move to the country cottage with him, and Hope can be a stay-at-home wife and mother.
When Hope and the children finally arrive in the "back of beyond", it's to find Curlew Cottage is not the charming idyll Matt had described. The cottage is not fit to inhabit, Matt is not there to greet them, and it's cold and raining. Hope's life goes downhill from there.
Walking into Redlion with the children, Hope meets Mary-Kate Donlan and her niece, Delphine, who become her best friends and her saving grace. Virginia Connell, a widow, moves to Redlion in order to get on with her life following her husband's death, and she is included in the sisterhood known as The Macramé Club…which is definitely not an arts and craft group. When Hope's sister Samantha Smith, a self-confident, high-powered businesswoman from London, begins having serious medical problems, she flees to Redlion seeking solace. The Macrame Club with their lively humor and common sense, plus the best martinis in the world, enfold Sam into their group, giving her a much needed respite.
WHAT SHE WANTS by Cathy Kelly is a realistically portrayed story of the everyday lives of five women who, in spite of their differences, come together and form a bond with Mary-Kate as the hub in this wheel of friendship. These women live in our world and cope daily with the same problems most of us do. I became engrossed in their stories from the very beginning.
The only problem I found with WHAT SHE WANTS is its length. There is not enough change in the story to carry it for 529 pages. It begins to slow down and becomes repetitious and boring. The story of Nicole Turner, a young woman who breaks into the music business, could have been left out completely. It doesn't seem to fit into this storyline, but deserves a book of its own. Characterization and dialogue are realistic, as is the setting and events that these women face. There are laugh out loud moments as well as movingly sad moments.
WHAT SHE WANTS is a book which this reviewer highly recommends. Cathy Kelly is a "new to me" author, but I will definitely be looking for her other books.
Visit Cathy at
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