The Break marked my first foray into Marian Keyes’ books and I’m sorry to report that I am somewhat disappointed. The Break isn’t bad, but it’s just fine. Nothing particularly awful but nothing particularly great either. The Break jumped out to me from the bookshelves of Waterstones at a time when I thought I needed a book just like this but I’ve been left with mixed feelings about the whole thing.
Keep on reading for my book review of The Break…
Marian Keyes new book follows the story of Amy, a forty-something mother of three whose husband is about to abandon their family to travel around South East Asia for six months. Well, not abandon per say, he’ll be back! Or so he says…
Hugh has been struggling with his mental health since the death of his father and is convinced that what he needs is a holiday. By himself. On the other side of the world. With no contact with his wife. Oh and he can sleep with other women! That’s all part of the deal.
Amy and Hugh are not getting a divorce, they’re simply going on a break. And anybody who’s watched Friends (and if you haven’t, who are you?!), knows that “a break” is a recipe for disaster.
The Break Book Review
The Break is split into three parts: before, during and after Hugh’s expedition to Asia. It’s incredibly long for a book of this genre, spanning 660 pages, pretty much double most other romance/family drama novels. There’s a lot of excess material that definitely could’ve been trimmed down during editing and its length means it was very slow to get started.
There’s a long preamble that explains Amy and Hugh’s relationship leading up to his decision to leave, which alternates between the present and flashbacks to the past. A lot of the flashbacks were superfluous and it wasn’t necessary to draw such a vivid picture of what things were like “before”. Their relationship seemed like any other that involves a stagnating marriage to me so there was nothing all that interesting going on here.
The drama doesn’t get going until “during” but at this point things start to get funnier, sexier and generally much more exciting. There are some moments where Keyes insight into the intricacies of romantic and familial relationships is spot on and I liked that she doesn’t fluff over the hard reality of life. However, these moments were outweighed by moments that didn’t sit right with me morally, namely, cheating.
I envisaged a novel about female empowerment and a story about finding the strength to move forwards after a huge set back but this isn’t really the vibe you get from The Break. I don’t want to reveal any major spoilers but a lot of the characters’ actions didn’t sit well with me and I’m not a fan of the resolution of this novel. I didn’t find many of the adults particularly likeable though I suppose their flaws do make them all seem more human.
Despite this, I will give Marian Keyes credit for constructing a story that doled out plot twist after plot twist. I wasn’t really sure where the book was headed at all until the very last few pages. Keyes builds up a strong cast of secondary characters who are all well-fleshed out and have their own plot threads. This is the only advantage of the length of the book as it does mean these subplots are explored more deeply than they often are.
In conclusion, The Break is an ok book that garners three stars from me. But would I recommend it? I’m not sure. If you like leisurely reading and have the time to get invested in all these characters’ lives then go for it. However, at 660 pages long I think you might be better off picking up another romance novel or another one of Keyes novels.
TW: There are scenes of a sexual nature and mention of abortion in The Break.