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by Marian Keyes
HarperPerennial, 2002
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Jan 1st 2003


Marian Keyes has cornered a niche market of psychologically insightful comic novels featuring Irish women.  Indeed, three of them, Watermelon, Rachel’s Holiday, and this latest, Angels, has main characters from the same family.  Maggie has been married to Garv for nine years, but the book starts out with her leaving him and their home in Dublin to visit her old friend Emily in Los Angeles.  She needs to get away because she is sure her marriage is over, because she discovered that Garv has been having an affair.

The story proceeds with her discovering the bizarre world of Hollywood.  Emily is a scriptwriter and she is desperately trying to get people interested in her work.  As we meet Emily’s friends and business acquaintances, we learn with her about the baffling lengths people will go to make themselves more beautiful (did you know it is possible to get one’s butthole bleached?).  Finding herself in this new world, Maggie tries to experiment with new relationships, without much success.  As the story unfolds, we start to learn more about Maggie’s life and her relationship with Garv.  We find that they once had a great relationship, but when she has two miscarriages, their relationship became far less happy because they were not able to talk about their feelings with each other or their families.  Then we learn about a relationship from Maggie’s teenage years that still casts a shadow over her life, and it is clear that she has some unresolved issues.

Keyes keeps the tone light, balancing the investigation of the causes of Maggie’s current problems with plenty of humor.  The culmination of the story occurs when Maggie’s family suddenly decides to also come to Los Angeles for a holiday, and bring all their comically dysfunctional habits with them. 

Angels is a quick read, and is just as appealing as her earlier novels.  Indeed, it is less formulaic than Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married, even though the ending is still somewhat predictable.  Keyes’ ability to insert psychological perspectives into her novels makes her unusual, especially among British and Irish authors, and the international success of her work suggests that this is a winning approach.


Link: www.MarianKeyesBooks.com


© 2003 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.