The Break

I have to start with a disclaimer here — as far as Marian Keyes is concerned, I can’t be too critical. She deals with disturbing issues (abuse, rehab, chronic illness, death) with rare sensitivity and grace, adding dollops of humour and wit. The Break, narrated in the wise, witty, warm style she has patented, explores a marriage, which, though founded on love, is now in the trenches.

Meet Amy, a 44-year-old Ireland-based PR professional with “a tendency to roundness” and penchant for vintage clothes, “or to put it another way, second-hand”. When we begin the book, she is still reeling from her husband’s decision to take a break from their marriage.

“It’s a mid-life crisis, but I don’t want a sports car, I just want some freedom. I really think this will be best for us in the long run,” he says. Promising her that he will come back after a six-month pause from their marriage, he meanders off to Southeast Asia, where he promptly launches into an affair, while Amy comes back home and attempts to cope with this by having her own little fling with a dashing journalist.

Keyes explores love’s multifaceted nature, how boredom and the need for novelty can wreak a relationship based on love, friendship and the best of intentions. While this is the central story, there are other side stories, equally endearing: Amy’s layered relationships with her daughters, teenage-pregnancy and its ramification, a bit about grief-triggered depression, the pernicious inevitability of Alzheimer’s disease. As always, she manages to create likeable, humanly-flawed characters and situations that oscillate between the poignant and the hilarious. Her one-liners are fantastic: “She’s as leaky as Julian Assange,” she says of a rather indiscreet character.

Wisecracks and that droll Irish humour aside, what really works in The Break is the compassion with which Keyes creates her make-believe world and its people. At one point, Rumi is quoted and that coveys the spirit of the book better than anything else. “This being human is a Guest House/ Every morning a new arrival./ A joy, a depression, a meanness,/ Some momentary awareness comes/ As an unexpected visitor./ Welcome and entertain them all!

The books itself has awake the most profound and diverse feeling into me, raising me up and throwing me down again and again, like in a carousel of events that are raising by blood pressure.

At some point you start wondering “Do I have to feel sorry for the character? Or am I already sorry?”. That is because at some point there are so many mixed feelings that you are experiencing that you no longer know what is it that you express.

The story of Amy and Hugh makes you want to have a relationship that can pass every obstacle. You try to convince yourself that love is forever and that you are capable of making it that way, but unfortunately life isn’t that easy. You know what they say: falling in love is easy, staying in love is hard. And that is very true. I don’t know why is that.

Maybe because after some time you get used to the person next to you and want a refill…of love. Maybe that feeling of new is the one who makes us have a second thought.

But anyway, who am I to judge?

Hope that you have had the power to stay in love for the rest of your life. Hope this book inspires people to fight for their love and not giving away all the live they have lived before for a one time illusion…cause that’s what it is.

Love each other, love is all that matters in this world.

© picnicontheshelf, June 20, 2018

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