Saturday, September 19, 2009

Past Secrets: Cathy Kelly

A chick-lit romantic novel with pretensions to be something grander – but organisation and plot lets it down. An undemanding read with good characterization, but there are problems. The author allows the story to become confusing and disjointed when she attempts to make a ‘mystery’ out of whether or not one of the main characters actually had an affair with a well-known artist some years before the start of the novel. This leads to some frustration for the reader. Another trip-up is when another main character talks about walking past customs officers after coming off the Galway to Dublin shuttle flight. Excuse me? Going through customs after an internal flight? Otherwise the plot is entirely predictable. We know it will all work out well in the end; the devoted couple will overcome difficulties and stay together; the woman whose lover cheated on her will find a much more worthwhile man; the daughter who ran off to L.A. with her musician boyfriend will realise the error of her ways and return home to mother. What’s disappointing is that although the novel is set in Ireland, there’s very little to give an Irish feeling to it – yes, the street they all live on is given some character, but it could have been any street almost anywhere in the English-speaking world.