Once In A Lifetime Paperback – Oct 9 2009
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'Wise, warm, compassionate, full of characters that I loved and identified with, it's like having a great gossip with your best friends. Her best book yet' Marian Keyes 'This top-notch storyteller once again cuts to the quick of modern women's lives and their relationships' Woman & Home --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Cathy Kelly is the author of nine other novels‚ all of which were number 1 bestsellers. In 2005 Cathy became an Ambassador for UNICEF in Ireland‚ helping to raise awareness of the plight of 12 million children orphaned across Africa through AIDS. Cathy Kelly now lives in Wicklow with her partner and young sons. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Using Kenny's department store as the center of the stories was enjoyable - I found it difficult to keep the storylines straight - there aren't an unmanageable number of main characters, but each has her own constellation of supporting characters with their own problems - Natalie's alcoholic friend Lizzy, Charlie's domineering mother, Ingrid's work cohorts - none of whom really matter.
Kelly's writing is more modern and younger, and perhaps then ineluctably crasser than Binchy, but more to the point, she doesn't have the gift of making characters I really care about, and though the lives of the characters in this novel are connected in a casual way, they don't have the coincidentally deep connections that make Binchy's writing such a delight.
So against Binchy, this book doesn't stand up, but it's not such a treat on its own either. It's predictable and easy to read, but I can't say I'd recommend it.
Is this chic lit? Yes and No. It certainly has all of the aspects of chic lit. Girls, divorce, make up , shopping and so on. But the characters are much better rounded out, and the story is much richer than some of the chic lit I have read.
This is a story of women who live in a small town in Ireland. Small town all have one thing in common, it seems. Everyone either knows or knows about everyone else in town. I think what drew me in most was the character of Star. She felt like a kindred spirit.
I liked Charlie Fallon. She is one of those women who it would be very easy to dismiss as a young woman with little substance. She works in the make-up department of the Kenny department store. We find out just how wise and gentle this character really is when she grows a little and feels more comfortable in her own skin.
Kenny's is the basically the heart of the book. Many of the characters are involved in some way with the store or the family. David Kenny inherited the store from his parents and is struggling to keep it going during difficult financial times. His employees are like extended family and he knows how difficult it would be for them if he lost his battle to keep the store as is. The people who work for him appreciate this and know how lucky they are.
Ingrid is Davids wife. He has a son and a daughter, and they have friends and lives of their own that figure into this story. I enjoyed this story. I liked most of the characters and cared what happened to them. I also liked the way that acceptance was both a reality and a lesson.
If you are looking for a good story with likable characters, this is a book for you. I will be happy to read more from this writer. I also plan to gift copies to at least two people I know who will enjoy the story, and perhaps learn about acceptance.
Good read for a relaxing afternoon.
This book is an exception, however. I was hopeful given Marion Keyes' cover-quote saying that this is one of Kelly's best with wonderful characters. Not. Yes, Ingrid - the most prominent character, wife of Kenny's magnate David and host of a prime-time TV political talk-show - is likeable and interesting, but she's surrounded by others who really didn't appeal at all. For once, also, the various characters' stories didn't gel for me, and the book's structure did not hang together.
Characters such as Kitty, Dara, Lizzie and others were irritating and unsympathetic. David, Ingrid's husband, was too much of a cypher in the beginning for me to form any liking for him, and I'm left wondering what Ingrid ever saw in him. As for Star Bluestone, the proclaimed lodestone of the book, I could have done without her and her flaky second-sight mumbo-jumbo.
Sorry, Cathy Kelly, but this book was considerably below what I'm used to from you and will be finding its way to the nearest second-hand bookshop.
So...two wrong thoughts don't make a right--but choosing this book was a great choice all the same. Kenny's Department Store, a store specializing in unique luxury items, is at the heart of this novel that takes place in Ardagh, Ireland. The owner, David Kenny, connects a number of women who we get to meet and care about in ONCE IN A LIFETIME: Ingrid, his successful journalist wife, Star Bluestone, his former lover and wisewoman/artist, and Ingrid's best friend, Marcella, who is a loyalist to the Kennys and also has got a lot of living and loving to do. There's also Charlie Fallon, who is the daughter of one of Star's former acquaintances, and Dara, one of Star's intimates. Her daughter, Natalie, and Molly, Ingrid's daughter, are best friends, and we get to learn about them, too.
These are just names to you, but Kelly creates rich characters with distinctive voices and riveting backstories--so they are all living, breathing characters to me. The story holds some surprises, some very sad and some joyous--and some a combination of the two. The plot is not particularly complex. However, there is a great deal of psychological understanding and wisdom passed through in this book, if you are willing to open yourself to it.
ONCE IN A LIFETIME is a lot deeper than I was expecting--it's not chick lit, but a novel, not a genre title. Perhaps some would call it "women's fiction," but to me, in this case, that just means there's an emotional focus you might not expect in traditional literature. And of course, women are the main inhabitants, but do we call HEART OF DARKNESS a men's novel?
No. So let's call this what it is--a moving novel with characters you care about and a plotline that is not particularly complex and even meanders a bit--but is a page-turner for all that.
I've ordered ALWAYS AND FOREVER, another book by Ms. Kelly, and look forward to reading all of her books at some point.
Once in a Lifetime portrays a group of women who live in the same area and either know each other directly or through a connection once removed. Each woman is facing a challenge unique to her particular circumstances--a new widow who learns heartbreaking secrets about her husband, a successful career woman seeking love, a young woman plagued by a lack of confidence, an older woman with the ability to see past the obvious, a step back in time to the life of a woman now dead, and her daughter searching for a sense of identity. This sounds very confusing, with many different strands, but Cathy Kelly transitions smoothly between characters and some how makes this all work.
This book is very well written, which one would expect from an author as highly acclaimed as Cathy Kelly. I enjoyed not only the variety of characters, but that there was a "satisfactory" ending for each, instead of a contrived "happy ending." The character who can see past the obvious can actually see hidden things about a person. I don't usually care for this type of writing device, but it was not overdone here and positioning the character as a bit unique and a loner made it more believable. This is a great book for anyone looking for an escape on a quiet afternoon--there is enough to the book to capture and hold your attention. I have already ordered another book by Cathy Kelly based on how much I enjoyed this one!