The Other Side of the Story | Marian Keyes

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Other Side of the Story is told from the point of view of three different characters - Jojo, Gemma, and Lily - who's lives are all rather plainly intertwined. 

First, there's Jojo, a tough-as-nails literary agent in a top firm called Lipman Haigh. Her biggest drawbacks are her terrible addiction to shopping for high-end, expensive items and her torrid love affair and ridiculous obsession with her married boss, Mark. 

Second, there's Gemma. Also exceptionally talented at her job (she's a party planner for Europe's elite), she holds a grudge against Lily for 'stealing' her longtime boyfriend. Interjected into Gemma's love story is her parents' story of cheating and despair, which - in my opinion - seems to affect her entirely too much. As a creative way of expressing her emotions over her parents' split, she pens a book about their relationship, and her seemingly unimportant relationship with the local pharmacist. Jojo is her agent.

And then there's Lily, the depressed and disheveled mother and author, who stole Gemma's longtime boyfriend, Anton. Because of a broken childhood with a father who overextended the family's needs, she is insecure in her relationship with Anton. She is also represented by Jojo.

While I applaud Keyes' tenacity, I am not so sure I would pass this book on to anyone as a recommendation. With over 110 chapters PLUS an epilogue, it's not exactly a quick read, though the content is as airy as something I'd typically recommend reading by the pool. 

Here are my thoughts:
  1. It took a while to get used to the Irish and English (UK) colloquialisms throughout the text. This is probably all on me because I wasn't expecting the book to be set in Europe. 
  2. The book is, quite literally, about nothing. Yes, there are characters, and yes there is a plot. But the climax of each character's story came at different times - to the point where it made the book feel disjointed. I feel like the three characters' stories each could have been made into their own book and just marketed as a set. Like I mentioned before, it's a light read, but a thick book. 
  3. The transition between characters and the overall setup of the book were awkward at best. The book is divided into "Part One" and "Part Two," with no real distinction between the parts. It's also divided into chapters that seem to just be interjected wherever the author wanted to insert a line or page break. And to top it all off, those chapters are then assigned to one of the three characters.
  4. I couldn't figure out why Lily and Gemma's narratives were all in first person, but Jojo's were in third person. This bugged me through the entirety of the book. 
  5. I had an issue with the characters all being overplayed. For instance, why does Jojo feel the need to go buy expensive items so frequently? And why are the two working women at the top of their game, but the one who's a stay at home mom is always so downtrodden and unkempt? 
Overall, I'd give this book a three out of ten.