Marian Keyes has cornered a niche
market of psychologically insightful comic novels featuring Irish women. Indeed, three of them, Watermelon, Rachels
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
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 Emilys 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
ones 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 Maggies 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 Maggies 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 Maggies current problems with plenty of
humor. The culmination of the story
occurs when Maggies 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.
© 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.