☆••*´¨`*•.☆•• 4-stars ☆••*´¨`*•.☆••
Paddy de Courcy is Ireland’s debonair politician, the “John F. Kennedy Jr. of Dublin.” His charm and charisma have taken hold of the country and the tabloids, not to mention our four heroines: Lola, Grace, Marnie, and Alicia. But though Paddy’s winning smile is fooling Irish minds, the broken hearts he’s left in his past offer a far more truthful look into his character.
Narrated in turn by each woman, This Charming Man explores how their love for this one man has shaped their lives. But in true Marian Keyes fashion, this is more than a story of four love affairs. It’s a testament to the strength women find in themselves through work, friendship, and family, no matter what demons may be haunting their lives. Depression, self-doubt, domestic abuse—each of these women has seen tough times in life, and it’s through Keyes’s wonderful storytelling ability that these subjects are approached with the appropriate tone and candor. Her deft touch provides a gripping story and, ultimately, a redemptive ending.
This Charming Man was first published in 2008; the book won the Irish Book Awards in 2009. It is a gripping story told by four women who have been deeply affected by one particular charming man, Patrick de Courcy. The book is powerful and at times disturbing. It is primarily about domestic violence, alcoholism and corrupt politics. This Charming Man is quite different from Marian Keyes usual chick-lit books, however, Keyes was able to provide me with a few chuckles while she tackled this difficult subject.
Patrick de Courcy is also known as Paddy. He is the John F. Kennedy of Irish politics—young, handsome and beloved. He is outwardly charming and charismatic. In private, he is mean, controlling and abusive (I am not suggesting that JFK shared the negative attributes of Patrick de Courcy). Paddy has captured the hearts of the voters as well as the hearts of the story’s four narrators.
The story begins with the announcement of Patrick’s engagement and the reaction of four of his past lovers. Then Lola, Grace, Marnie and Alicia take turns telling their tales of life with Paddy. Each woman is outwardly “normal”, but each is inwardly tormented by the lasting effects of their relationship with Paddy.
Lola is an average thirty something stylist for high society women. She is Paddy’s most recent girlfriend (or at least she thought so); the announcement of Paddy’s engagement has left her so torn up that she leaves Dublin for Country Clare to heal her heart. She ends up enjoying her time with her new friends who happen to be cross dressers in need of a stylist.
Grace is amazingly strong person. She is the loving caregiver in the family. Grace is a journalist, and she is as cool as a cucumber once she figures out how to best exact revenge against Paddy. She and her twin sister, Marnie, have both had their hearts broken by Paddy.
Marnie is the most complex characters in the book. She has a seemingly amazing life with her husband and two kids. Her alcoholism gets in the way of this amazing life; it is easy to empathize with her pain. It brought tears to my eyes when Marnie harms herself. Her outwardly wonderful life hides the real mess of her torment.
Alicia is Paddy’s fiancée. Alicia has a very minor role as a story narrator, but we get enough to see how desperately she has been waiting for this opportunity to be the perfect political wife. She accepts Paddy’s shoddy treatment because she is so insecure.
This Charming Man is a brutal depiction of misogynistic treatment some women endure while wearing their rose-colored glasses in a “romantic” relationship. Marion Keyes did not white wash the violence. Her characters are wonderfully diverse and developed. Their individual stories tugged at my heart, and I cheered when Grace led this group of women to revenge and closure.
The audiobook is wonderfully narrated by Niamh Daly. I thoroughly enjoyed the accents and different voices of the characters.