H&H’s bloggers are all avid readers, of course, and each has their favorite genre.
So, of course, we challenged them to read outside of their favorite genre—to read a book, in fact, in a genre they never read in. And we asked another H&H blogger who does read in that genre to choose the best book for the neophyte to read.
We’ll be posting the results of the Genre Experiment as each blogger finishes—or does not finish (DNFs)—their book. Today, H&H blogger Anna Bowling reads Marian Keyes’s Anybody Out There?, recommended by Kate Nagy.
Angsty historicals are my favorites, especially big, sprawling epics where hero, heroine or both go through their own personal hell before finding that well-earned happily ever after, so when asked what sort of book I avoid, the first thing that came to mind was the opposite: contemporary comedy. Kate Nagy recommended Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes, and suggested that the less I knew about the story going in, the better, so I headed off to the library and dove in completely blind.
My initial impression could best be summed up with “This is a very big book. Can I take that many yuks?” Still, Kate had assured me that parts of the story were incredibly sad, which was enough for angstbunny me to crack the cover. Right off the bat, we meet heroine Anna Walsh, recovering from a traumatic injury, her bed set up in the front room of her mother’s home in suburban Dublin. Okay, Ireland. I can do Ireland. Anna wants to get back to her life, husband and job in New York. Also good. NYC is my favorite place in the world, and I have to agree with Anna’s mother that Anna does seem to have the best job in the world, doing public relations for a high-end cosmetic firm. Which means access to free makeup, which her family pillages mercilessly because, hey, Anna won’t be using it until she recovers from her multiple injuries.
Anna’s family struck me as having a realistic mix of concern and craziness, but as this was the fourth book in a series and I had not read the first three, I did feel like I was out of the loop on in-jokes and established relationships. The one member of Anna’s family we don’t get to meet at this stage is her husband, Aiden, who is not present, and her family won’t even speak his name. I figured out pretty quickly why, which added an extra layer of heartbreak with each of Anna’s attempts to contact him.
Though her family would rather keep her with them, Anna needs to return to her life in New York, though it can’t ever be the same. The gnawing need for normality in the wake of huge life changes felt very true to life and I could believe the extents Anna went to in her attempts to contact Aiden. Emails from home keep Anna abreast of her family’s shenanigans, including her mother’s stakeout of a neighbor whose dog leaves presents on the family’s property, and her private investigator sister’s newest client, an organized crime boss with a romantic streak. Colorful neighbors and members of Anna’s support group keep her from going too far into her dark places, and the story does end on an emotionally satisfying note.
All in all, I’m glad I tried Anybody Out There? and I’m satisfied with the resolution Anna found at the book’s end. Life can be hard, bad things can happen, but with family and friends, we can get through it. I do believe that, and found those sentiments echoed in the pages. Will I be hunting down other books by this author? Probably not, as chick lit in general isn’t my thing, but I’m glad I had a chance to see why Marian Keyes has such wide appeal.
Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.