Further Under the Duvet, by Marian Keyes

>> Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I loved the Marian Keyes books that I've read, most especially the wonderful Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, so I don't know why I haven't read more.

Further Under the Duvet (excerpt), which was published in the US as Cracks In My Foundation, is a collection of essays, magazine articles, short stories and various other pieces. It's a sequel to Under the Duvet, an earlier collection which I'm now going to be looking for.

Go further under the covers and stay in bed a little longer with Marian Keyes in this winning follow-up to her smash essay collection, Under the Duvet. Written in the witty, forthright style that has earned her legions of devoted readers, Cracks in My Foundation offers an even deeper and more candid look into this beloved author's mind and heart, exploring such universal themes as friends and family, home, glamour and beauty, children, travel, and more. Marian's hilarious and thoughtful take on life makes her readers feel they are reading a friend, not just an author.

Marian continues to entertain with her reports from the trenches, and throws in some original short fiction as well. Whether it's visiting Siberia, breaking it off with an old hairdresser, shopping (of course!), turning forty, living with her beloved husband, Himself (a man beyond description), or musing on the F word (feminism), Marian shares the joys, passions, and sorrows of her world and helps us feel good about our own. So grab a latte and a pillow and get ready to laugh your slippers off!
Funny and charming and sometimes also serious and wrenching. I enjoyed most stories to varying degrees. A B.

FUTD was divided into 7 sections.

The first, Handbags and Gladrags, I didn't enjoy all that much. I mean, I love Keyes voice, and there were quite a few funny moments, but I'm really not that interested in handbags and shoes and spas and make-up (I like all that, don't get me wrong, it's just that they're not my reason to live, or anything!) And really, a couple of those articles amounted to nothing more than nicely written brochures for products like spas or shops. Oh, but I did have a good time reading the first one, in which Keyes tells of The Nicest Thing That Ever Happened To Me, even if it's about how she became a beauty columnist for a few months and how she loved getting all that free make-up.

Part 2 was On The Road, and that one, as the title indicates, is all about travelling and visits to foreign countries. This section was just hilarious. I especially loved Being Sent to Siberia. Keyes has a way of poking fun at funny foreign stuff without coming off as an arrogant bitch.

Then came the Health and Beauty section, and here we're back to similar themes as in section 1. I did like this one better, though, because it was more about funny experiences than about how absolutely fah-bulous that spa she went to was. Best story of the bunch: Hair-brained, about the traumas of breaking up with your hairdresser.

In part 4, Woman to Woman, the tone gets a bit more serious, and I loved it. All three of the pieces here were great. I loved the two which were about feminism and how some men can't cope with their wives making more money than they do, and the one about her wedding was sweet.

Next comes the fifth part, Friends and Family, and the book keeps getting better and better. Funny, funny, funny, and Keyes' love for her family just shines through. A highlight: Big Air, the description of a visit to the final of the first Irish air-guitar-playing championship. Oh, man!

The sixth section is But Seriously, and guess what? It's about more serious themes, like about Keyes' alcoholism and how she recovered, or about her visit to a Russian orphanage, invited by the Irish charity which runs it (the profits from the HC edition of this book are going to that particular charity), or about yet another visit with another charity, this time to Ethiopia. It's great, because Keyes has a light touch, so even when she's talking about heavy stuff, it doesn't feel heavy. And she's great at making you laugh at the most inappropriate things and not feel like you're making light of them. It reminded me of Helen Fielding's Cause Celeb in that way.

Finally, part 7 is Short stories, which is, er, well, short stories. My favourite was The Truth is Out There, about a British girl named Ros and a handsome amber-yellow, 3-feet-tall alien named Bib, and I also liked Under, about a woman in a coma. However, this section also contained my least favourite pieces, which were the Mammy Walsh agony columns that were sprinkled thorughout it. I admit the character is very well done, but I developed such an intense, visceral hatred for the disgusting, judgmental old bitch that I couldn't enjoy myself.

A fun collection, perfect for reading when you know you won't be able to sit down for hours, but just need to read something!


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