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I've always been a fan of Patricia Scanlan who is another of my favourite Irish writers. A couple of years ago I read and loved one of her books, 'Forgive and Forget', and was delighted to discover that it was the first book in a trilogy. I have subsequently read the second book, 'Happy Ever After?' and have recently really enjoyed the third and final offering, 'Love and Marriage'. In this book, I was able to reacquaint myself with all of the characters that I have come to know and love and to find out whether they really do live happily ever after!
Although this 'Love and Marriage' would be very enjoyable as a stand alone read, I think that you would enjoy it more if you have read the other two books in the triology first. However, if you have not read them, Patricia Scanlan does devote the first few pages providing a précis of all the different characters' trials and tribulations thus far.
There are many characters in 'Love and Marriage' and a number of different story lines that all merge together extremely well. First, there is Debbie who's six month old marriage to Brian already seems to be on the rocks. Set against the backdrop of the recent and ongoing Irish recession, the couple struggle to meet their outgoings as they come across hard times. Although Debbie is prepared to tighten their belts and work with her husband to pay off their4 debts, Brian has other ideas.
Debbie's mother Connie has recently rediscovered love in her life after struggling to bring up Debbie on her own. However, just when it looks like happiness might be hers again, her new partner Drew's demanding ex wife Marianna appears making trouble. Debbie's father Barry has problems of his own in what is one of the most poignant story lines. His second wife Aimee is pregnant again but does not want to keep the baby. What is more devastating for both of them though is that their daughter Melissa has body issues that leads to a severe eating disorder that could have serious consequences unless somebody intervenes. It is this story that very movingly unites all of the main characters that I have already mentioned and also helps Aimee to come to a decision about her unwanted pregnancy.
Another storyline unfolds involving Debbie's boss. Judith who. In the previous book, was involved in a near fatal car accident. In 'Love and Marriage'. We are able to follow her road to rehabilitation which also involves reconciliation with her mother with whom she previously had a quite difficult relationship. This is another most moving story that often had me close to tears as I was reading.
The above is just a taste of how many different stories unfold within the book. All are equally absorbing which meant that it was the sort of book that once I had started reading I did not want to put down. I was absorbed from the very first page and loved every moment in the book. As I had read the first two books, I felt like I was meeting old friends in 'Love and Marriage', and these were all friends that I cared about very much. I do think that Patricia Scanlan is excellent at developing her characters which is definitely the case in 'Love and Marriage'.
I cannot recommend 'Love and Marriage' highly enough. It is the sort of book that will have you smiling one moment and crying the next. Each and every storyline is believable and intriguing in oits own right but when you put them together you find yourself reading a fabulous book. However, to really gain the maximum enjoyment from it, I do think that you should read the other two books in the trilogy first and if you do, you really will be looking forward to a feast of reading!
Love and Marriage is available in hardcover on amazon for £7.99 (October 2011)
This review has previously appeared under my name at www.curiousbookfans.co.uk