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Thursday, July 11, 2024


There is a lot of humour along the way, and while a bit of judicious pruning would have helped, “My Favourite Mistake” will delight Keyes’ many fans. (Review by Margaret von Klemperer, courtesy of The Witness)

Marian Keyes has written a string of novels, many, like this one, featuring members of the Walsh family. Her work has long been dismissively categorised as “chick lit” and while it is lively, raunchy, funny and easy reading, that is unfair.

In 2022, Keyes was chosen as Author of the Year at the British Book Awards, and that put her alongside writers such as Hilary Mantel and Kate Atkinson. She knows where her core readership is, and writes for them, but she is never afraid to use her light touch to tackle tough subjects – here it is loss, menopause and coming to terms with a difficult past.

The central character of My Favourite Mistake is Anna Walsh. When the novel opens, she is reviewing her post-pandemic life in New York where she is the PR guru for a cosmetics firm – lots of free makeup. But lockdown with her partner has soured their relationship which saved her after her husband was killed in an accident, and the high-powered life has begun to pall.

So Anna heads back to Ireland, searching for a change of focus. Things there aren’t all rosy: her extraordinary family are not entirely thrilled to see her; HRT is much harder to source than it was in the States and there doesn’t seem to be much prospect of a job.

But then old friends hit a crisis with the fancy spa they are building. They seem to have offended the local population and are desperate for some good PR and help while they deal with a drama in their personal lives.

The trouble for Anna is that it will mean working alongside Joey with whom she shares a very complicated past. This past is slowly divulged through a series of flashbacks to Anna’s earlier life which, while they could be a clever plot device, can also interrupt the unfolding of what is going on with the spa and its opponents. Also, the number of characters and who is who can become confusing.

Keyes sometimes seems uncertain whether Anna and Joey’s relationship or the problem concerning the spa is the main thrust of the novel. Ultimately, the former takes over the book, although both will be resolved in the end – this being a Keyes novel, things end tidily and comfortably. There is a lot of humour along the way, and while a bit of judicious pruning would have helped, My Favourite Mistake will delight Keyes’ many fans. - Margaret von Klemperer

My Favourite Mistake is published by Michael Joseph - ISBN 978-0-241-44115-2