When Matt decides to uproot his family and move to Ireland in Cathy Kelly's novel, What She Wants, his wife Hope has no choice but to go with him. "Needy and pathetically hungry for love", Hope has such a horror of being abandoned that she'll do anything to keep him by her side. But their move to the rural village of Redlion is a far cry from the rustic romantic life that he promised--with Matt spending every day at the local arts centre, Hope has to look after the children on her own for hours on end in their small run-down cottage, miles away from any friends or family. It's not long before she's desperately lonely, their marriage is on the rocks and she's got nowhere to turn. Back in London, her sister Sam is completely different. Brittle and sharp, she's a mover and a shaker, with a fantastic job as the managing director of a major record label. Having decided she's never going to be anybody's accessory, she oozes a well-practiced unapproachable air. But just as Hope is having to reassess her life and learn to be stronger and more independent, so Sam is forced to reshuffle the pieces of her world, to stop pushing people away and allow herself to be vulnerable.I was first attracted to the book by its cover. However, the author's name sounded familiar to me. I immediately thought, "was she the one who wrong Nancy's Reagan's autobiography that caused such a stir?" (Seriously, why do I remember things like this???) But it wasn't Cathy Kelly who wrote the autobiography. It was Kitty Kelly. My apologies to Ms. Cathy Kelly. However, to redeem myself, I must say that the reason Cathy Kelly sounded familiar is that I picked up this book, Woman to Woman, while in England in the late 90s. I don't remember the story, but I do remember the cover.
Anyway, onto the review . . .
This story mainly revolves around Hope and her sister, Sam. The two sisters had a tragic event in their childhood which led them to cope in opposite ways. Hope, who is married with two little ones, always aims to please. Forgoing her wants, desires and happiness, she puts others first and lets her husband make decisions for her. Sam, on the other hand, is a hardened career woman who refuses to let anyone take advantage of her. Appearing harsh and frigid, Sam builds barriers of protection.
Woven in the novel, are the stories of other women in Redlion, County Kerry, Ireland: Mary-Kate, her niece Daphne and newly widowed, Virginia.
I really enjoyed this novel as I immediately felt a connection with both Hope and Sam. I feel they portray the different internal struggles that most women go through one time or another. The characters are very believable, going through real-life struggles and temptations, falling and getting back on their own two feet. Hope and Sam are not stagnant, but we watch their characters change and grow.
The length of this novel is long, my version boasts 572 pages. I love long reads, but only if the story is (obviously) engaging. And to give us a break from the stories of the sisters, Kelly throws in story lines of Hope's new-found Redlion gal-pals. This gives us time away from our main characters and story, looking forward to our reunion with them.
My main issue with this story is that the ending was too good to be true. It was quickly wrapped up in a nice, neat, not-believable package.
While a predictable read, What She Wants is an entertaining read. I'll be keeping an eye out for other Kelly novels.
One other tidbit of information . . . My copy has a copyright date of 2001. There seems to be a reissue date of 2008/2009 and perhaps a new story? Much of the information I found about this book talks of a Nicole. Unless I really wasn't paying attention, she was not in the novel. I haven't been able to find too much information about this. If you end up picking up a newer addition of this book, you may be getting a totally different story. Annoying.
I'm not sure if this is the case in both UK/US markets or the US. I really hope the author did not change the story for the US/North American market. That really insults my intelligence. Note to publishers: the reason I pick up a lot of novels written by UK/European authors is because I want the POV/setting/story from an UK/European author. Stop doing this and give me the original story! Always. Thank you.
Find the author's website here.
Title: What She Wants
Author: Cathy Kelly
Publication Year: 2001
Publisher: Downtown Press
Source: Personal Copy
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