First up, confession time.

This is the first ever Marian Keyes I’ve read, which is a startling omission, right?

Fortunately, out running recently, I was listening to a BBC podcast called Fortunately (no, really) & Ms Keyes was being interviewed, and I was instantly sold.

What a great story this is, about 3 Irish brothers, and their wives, and their children, and their lives, and their lies, and their problems, and their fears, and everything else that makes up life.

The novel opens with an ill-judged remark by Cara, one of the sisters-in-law, and the whole family facade of happiness and affection starts to unravel. But – and here’s the “but” – we have to go back into recent family history to put the unravelling in context.

Ms Keyes cleverly builds up to a dénouement that we already know about. But then, of course, with the power of hindsight, we see things in a very different light.

The Casey family spends a lot of time together, sharing meals in Dublin, holidaying and partying, all of this bonhomie largely driven by Jessie, who loves the whole concept of happy families. As we travel through the months, watching the Caseys work and love and fight and party and eat and drink, the chaos and noise and tensions of family life are brilliantly captured.

Ms Keyes touches on some very important issues, about obsession and secrets, about denial and the need to change – to grow up. She writes with such empathy and obvious affection for her characters, that we, the readers, are immediately predisposed to like (most of) them.

Personal favourites are Johnny & Jessie’s delightfully articulate & precocious young children, who have some of the best lines in the book.

By the final chapters, I was deliberately slowing down my reading speed, because I didn’t want the novel to end.

Loved it.

Am officially a fan of Ms Keyes – a little late to the party, agreed, but better late than never.

The novel has just been published, in early February 2020, and you can order it right now!

Here you go:

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