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Anybody Out There? Paperback – April 24, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
International bestseller Keyes is back with another quirky, heartwarming story of the Walsh sisters (Angels, etc.). Anna Walsh has returned to the bosom of her family in the Dublin suburbs to recuperate from the horrendous car accident that has left her with multiple fractures and a disfiguring scar across her face. Desperate to go back to New York and resume her normal life, she soon packs up her bags and returns to her job in beauty PR for punk cosmetics brand Candy Grrrl. A lonely and debilitated Anna leaves e-mails and phone messages for her mysteriously absent husband, Aidan, pleading for him to reply. [...] Meanwhile, she reminisces about their courtship and marriage while her kooky family (especially her Mum and hyperactive PI sister Helen) tries to buoy her spirits. Keyes's trademark blend of humor, diverse characters and a warm but unsentimental tone strikes gold. (May 9)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
So tantalizing is the mystery behind Anna Walsh's multiple debilitating and disfiguring injuries, it would be criminal to explain why the self-proclaimed owner of the "Best Job in the World" (PR maven for Candy Grrrl cosmetics) has left her trendy New York life to recuperate in the "good front room" of her parents' Dublin cottage, since Keyes herself strings readers along until the end of part 1 before revealing the cause of Anna's broken bones and broken heart. Suffice it to say that readers will be as devastated as Anna is to learn what awaits her when she returns to America and begins the agonizing process of rebuilding her shattered life. Hardly sounds like the stuff of raucous humor, now does it? And yet Keyes' latest madcap escapade starring one of the five wacky Walsh sisters teems with moments of joyous hilarity and laugh-out-loud humor. Anna is the kind of gal every woman would want as her best friend, sister, or daughter. Plucky doesn't begin to describe her approach to life, and her journey of self-discovery can stand as a provocative lesson in how to cope with demoralizing crises. Keyes fans will embrace this as her best yet, and first-time Keyes readers will want to read everything she's written. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
This novel floored me. I was almost in tears in some parts and some of the twists took me completely by surprise. The prologue foreshadows the aforementioned surprise, something the author has done in her other novels, but this time she creates something truly unique and riveting. But amid all of the serious stuff and the unexpected turns this novel takes, we get a big dose of humor that comes in part by the Walsh family, especially Helen. There is a lot of emphasis on Helen and her personal life in this installment and I could only assume that Helen's story will be next. That should be interesting! I was also reacquainted with other characters from previous books and I loved knowing that they've turned out well. Anna is a great heroine. This is funny to me because Anna was the most underdeveloped character in all of the books and her portrayal here is somewhat different than in the other books. Then again, it has been years since I've read a Walsh book (Angels) and my memory is a little fuzzy. There are the signature Keyes style of writing that are less savory to me. She likes to stereotype nationalities and I've always found that annoying and at times offensive. Thank goodness it doesn't happen so much here. I wish I could bring up the main storyline and its twists and make this review longer by pointing the things I loved about those scenes and why I loved them, but that would be giving things away. You'll just have to read the novel for yourself. Anybody Out There? is a roller coaster ride of emotions that will move you and surprise you to the core. You will love this gem from beginning to end. Keyes has outdone herself this time with this novel. She has created something that stands out among the rest and I cannot recommend this gem enough. This is one so-called "chick-lit" author that I won't give up on any time soon!
By the time Keyes reveals that Aidan died in the accident that injured Anna, the revelation isn't much of a surprise, but plucky Anna has captured the reader's sympathy. The plaintiveness of her frequent email messages to Aidan and calls to his cell phone underscore the terrible absence she feels after returning to the apartment they shared, so it was easy for me to understand why, even after facing the fact that he's dead, she keeps wondering, "Where is he?" I sympathized with her turn to psychics in an effort to find relief and Anna's furtive planning to escape the attentions of family and friends who wanted to keep her busy in hopes of getting her back to normal as quickly as possible. I found Anna's year of magical thinking as realistic as that depicted by Joan Didion in her memoir with that title.
Another aspect of the novel that worked for me was the PR/fashionista background with the T-Rex of a demanding boss, the strategizing to land coverage in coveted magazines, the over-the-top outfits required to fit the brand image, etc. In this novel Keyes leaves behind the breeziness of pure chick-lit by giving her sympathetic character a very dark problem to work through and significant challenges in her work life, all of which works very well. I can only conclude that it was at her editor's insistence that readers would want some lighter fare in this story that Keyes added the subplot told in emails from Dublin of Anna's PI sister, Helen, and her wacky case involving the marital woes of an Irish crime boss, which was an irritating distraction to this reader.
Keyes has transformed herself into a much more serious novelist than many of her fans from her chick-lit days probably want, and in Anybody Out There, she's trying to have it both ways. In This Charming Man, The Other Side of the Story, and The Brightest Star In The Sky, Keyes tells her story from the viewpoints of multiple characters and deals with a range of serious social ills, and those novels are by far her best. In the Walsh family novels, she's hampered by the gimmick itself and the expectations of a breezy romp. To me, Anybody Out There is the best of that lot, but now that she's published a novel focusing on the fifth and final Walsh sister -- The Mystery of Mercy Close, featuring Helen -- I hope she'll retire the Walsh family and focus her energy on what she does best.
Anna's attempt to make sense of her new reality was extremely painful to me, but I liked her persistence.
The could-be-hopelessly-dreary-and-depressing subject matter is offset by a hilarious ancillary cast of wacky (and endearing) family, coworkers and fellow seekers. There are laugh out loud scenarios throughout.
I found the juxtaposition of the comedy and tragedy a bit unsettling, as though the author couldn't decide which voice she really wanted to use. However, this was my first Marian Keyes read, so maybe that is her usual style. I will say that the end result was not unpleasing.
This was an assignment for my book club, and our average rating was a B+.