Keyes’s proven formula for success—a chatty, engaging heroine, a bawdy sense of humor, an unhappy turn of events—works again in her eighth novel (The Other Side of the Story, 2004, etc.).
Three of the five Irish Walsh girls have novels of their own, and now it’s time for Anna’s story. The first 100 pages build up a mystery of sorts: Anna lies dazed in the front parlor of her parent’s Dublin home as her mother nurses her back to health. On her daily walk, the local schoolboys call her Frankenstein, and for good reason. With deep cuts and bandages on her face, fingers without nails, an arm cast and a limp, Anna has never looked less stylish (except when she wore all those hippie skirts). There are flashbacks to her recent life in New York, where she has The Best Job in the World in cosmetics public relations, and a hunky, adorable husband, Aidan. So what happened to Anna, and where’s Aidan in her time of need? Against everyone’s pleading, Anna returns to New York, and we learn the tragic truth: Anna and Aidan were in a car accident in which Aidan died. Now, Anna rings his cell phone everyday to hear his voicemail, she e-mails him about work, she wails at night and can’t imagine life without him. Over 400 pages of a widow’s emotional recovery would be hard-going if not for Keyes’s humor and grand cast of characters with their own quirky subplots. Back in Dublin, baby sister Helen, an unlikely private investigator, keeps Anna updated on her current big case—tailing the local crime lords’ misses, while Mammy Walsh keeps Anna current on her own little mystery—an old lady regularly brings her dog to poo on the Walsh’s doorstep. And now, desperate to find out where Aidan is, Anna starts frequenting afterlife psychics, which introduces a whole new set of oddballs. Anna begins to crawl out of her sorrow, but Keyes is cautious with the expected happy ending—for all the comedy, she creates a vivid portrait of grief.
The very best in chick-lit.