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    Real Life with BITE

    This is my first Roisin Meaney novel and I am so glad I didn't just pick the one up on my greedy book acquiring spree. I feel that Ms Meaney could well end up on my favourites list if this particular book is anything to go by. Set in Eire during the recession this is a tale of multiple characters going on with their daily lives - loving, losing, surviving - as every ordinary person must. Although a disparate bunch they are linked by the central Hannah, be they her friends, a friend of her parent's, sister to her best friend or simply a customer at work. This book reminded me in no small way of Maeve Binchy's books. Stories of real people doing real things and something extraordinary can happen in a split second - be that for good or ill. This is very definitely not a criticism as it takes talent to weave so many disparate tales together and make even the minutiae of going to work even vaguely enjoyable to read. Enjoyable is very definitely what this book is and you do find yourself thinking "well, a couple more pages won't hurt - this next bit is about Leah/Alice/Whoever and I want to know what they are up to now". This is not helped by the book being split in to months and not chapters so it is way harder than you would think to put down. There is no overt characterisation here, the story starts and you just have to hold the wuthor's hand and follow her in to these complex lives. Strangely by the time you get to the end of January you already have a good feel for who everyone is and what their personal strengths and weaknesses are. You are taken on an emotional roller coaster in every section and the major incident about halfway through is shocking and its aftermath is far reaching and feels entirely realistic and heartrending. I am sure there was a plot arc written down for this book but somehow it doesn't feel plotted, it feels like that is just the way the days unfolded and this is what happened so we'll go with the flow. I will admit that I had to do a quick internet search for a couple of things when reading - being neither from Eire or a Catholic - I had no idea what Chocolate Kimberley Biscuits were (no I wish I didn't know because I am craving them!) or a Month's Mind. See, even a novel that is firmly categorised as Chick Lit can teach you something! Wonderful story telling with warmth and doesn't shy away from the nastiness of human nature. Looking forward to opening my next Roisin Meaney novel!
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