Rachel’s Holiday was our first read of 2012 and have to admit the first book I’ve not been able to complete for the book group since it started. Other group members agreed that the narration of the book by the lead character was incredibly irriatating, especially when the story was going back and forth through different timelines. Whilst others mentioned that they thought it was easy to read. I asked whether the size of the book would put people off from wanting to read it and most agreed that the size of the print made it a bit more of an attractive prospect! Infact most agreed that there was nothing hard about reading this but the question that was posed was if you could force yourself to read this.
At one stage, the book gave you 200 pages of different aspects of a sauna and the character seemed to be obsessed with a certain object, which people with a mental illness tend to do, making the rehab incredibly realistic. Most book members said that the therapy section of the book was indeed the best section, probably because the author herself had spent countless time their herself, so was obviously writing from her experience.
Her relationships with other people where always diagnosed as one dimensional – they seemed to be defined by one characteristic whilst the ‘significant others’ in the book glorified relationships. Book members agreed that the characters didn’t seem real and therefore it made it incredibly hard to like them, whilst others mentioned that they would have liked to have read more about the characters and found out how it ended for them.
The book was easily described as chick lit, although the subject matter was serious, it was still written in a jokey, comical way, which made me wonder if this is what the writer thought about the subject or was it what she thought her readers wanted to read? In fact the execution of her writing was compared to Thomas Hardy. Both writers wrote in a way that didn’t appeal to certain people but their subject matter was prevelent in today’s society.
Any sort of mental illness or addiction is considered a selfish illness but one significant point in the book was when the lead character complained about they way her Mother had treated her, only for her sister to explain that it was the way she treated all her children. The lead character definitely felt out of place in society and also in her own family didn’t feel like she belonged.
Another poignant moment was when the character was searching for drugs in Dublin; book members found this degrading and quite sad that this obviously is happening throughout any city.
The ending was described by some as incredibly twee and was almost deemed a fairytale end, due to the fact that the character had gone through some dark times but everything appeared to be okay at the end. Was the author selling to her market by doing this? A good sum up by one book club member was that reading these novels was okay at a certain point in your life, but then you move on and read other different ones, of which most of us agreed.