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The Other Side of the Story    by Marian Keyes order for
Other Side of the Story
by Marian Keyes
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Gemma Hogan is happily living her busy life as an event planner in Dublin when her mother calls in a state of dismay. After thirty-five years of marriage, Gemma's father has run off with his secretary. Gemma moves in to comfort her bereft mother while juggling job, friends, and fledgling love life. She understands her 'mam' because she herself has never really gotten over losing Anton, the love of her life, to her friend Lily. Gemma works out her disappointment about her father's abandonment by writing a book.

Lily Wright never meant to steal Gemma's boyfriend. When Anton moved to London and Gemma asked Lily to 'keep an eye on him', she never expected to fall in love. Now Lily and Anton have a beautiful daughter and Lily has a book about to be published. Jojo Harvey, literary agent extraordinaire, is having a quiet affair with her married boss, Mark Avery. She is fantastic at her job and truly in love with Mark. Attempting to secure a position as partner, Jojo spends a great deal of time looking for new authors and books that will bring in extra money for the agency. These three women, leading separate lives with different problems, are drawn together by common goals in book publishing. Their individual points-of-view give readers every side of a story which leads ultimately to a joyful conclusion for all.

Marian Keyes has written another winner, focusing on the fascinating process of getting a book published all the way from the initial idea. The novel takes us through each of Gemma's, Jojo's and Lily's lives. We learn about Anton from both Gemma's and Lily's perspectives, which are obviously different. Though the tale is lengthy, it never seems to get bogged down. Humorous interludes keep the plot flowing smoothly. Descriptions of the parties that Gemma plans, her mom's hysterical 'heart attacks', and Lily home renovation horrors all add depth and warmth to the novel. There were times I thought there would be no way things could wrap up positively for everyone. But the author ties up all loose ends so that the reader closes the book with a feeling of satisfaction.

Marian Keyes writes about three very different women, yet makes them seem real, and indeed a great deal like the women who will be reading her novel. Readers will be able to find a bit of themselves in the characters. The author stays away from caricatures which makes this book stand head and shoulders above the typical chick lit offering. I highly recommend The Other Side of the Story as a fresh, unique and engaging read.

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