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Anybody Out There? Paperback – April 24, 2007
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About the Author
Marian Keyes is the author of ten bestselling novels and two essay collections. She lives in Ireland with her husband and their two imaginary dogs.
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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.
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!
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+.
Top international reviews
This was the first book I had read that featured the Walsh family (I thought all MK books were stand alone) and I am so glad there are others to read and look forward to. Anna, the protagonist of this book is a very likeable and sympathetic character which is no mean feat when in other hands she would merely come across as a victim. The Anna character work particularly well within the context of her family - the emails between Anna, her sister Helen and their mother are laugh-out-loud funny and I am really looking forward to reading the Helen book (may even pay full price for it!)
The subject matter is sad, but the wealth of supporting characters provide light relief so a pleasing balance is struck. I really did care about the characters in this book, and have to confess, I wept at the end. I liked the pace of the book, and the subject matter is well-split between the comic and the tragic too. I highly recommend it, even if you do normally skirt the more deep-and-meaningful books on the market.
It's wonderfully written, it is funny in parts, it is romantic but it is also heart breaking. But in a good way. I have already lent my copy out to several of my friends - who loved it so much they kept it! Cheeky! So had to buy myself a new copy!
The Walsh family series are just too good !
Try this book you won't be disappointed