This book has been on my TBR list for at least two years. When I first heard of it it was notable because it was written by the daughter of a former Irish President, and given that I had just discovered Marian Keyes and therefore that I liked Irish chick lit, I added it to my TBR list...and haven't gotten around to reading it until now even though when the movie came out earlier this year I was determined that I was going to read the book before I went to see the movies. Now I guess I will have to wait for the movie to come out on DVD to see it!
Enough background for now though. For full details of TBR Day and a list of participants check out the Avidbookreader.com website.
Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mates. But not Holly and Gerry.
They were childhood sweethearts - no one could imagine Holly and Gerry without each other.
Until the unthinkable happens. Gerry's death devastates Holly. But as her 30th birthday looms, Holly discovers that Gerry has left her a bundle of notes, gently guiding her into her new life without him, each signed "PS, I Love You".
With some help from her friends, and her noisy and loving family, Holly finds herself laughing, crying, singing, dancing - and being braver than ever before.
Life is for living she realises - but it always helps if there is an angel watching over you.
When I sat down to read this I knew that I was setting myself up for quite an emotional journey. Because I am a crier from way back, there was no doubt in my mind that I would cry at least once, the question was just whether or not the story would be well balanced enough to make me laugh and to feel positive at the end of it.
What I didn't expect was that I would be sufficiently engaged with the storyline that I read it in one sitting. It certainly helped that it was a very, very hot afternoon - far too hot to do anything other than sit under a fan and read.
Holly and Gerry are the perfect couple. They do argue about silly little things, but for the most part they love each other desperately and they are looking forward to a long life together, to having children and to grow old together. It is not to be as a Gerry is diagnosed with a brain tumour and dies leaving Holly grieving and completely bereft. She understandably withdraws from the world, into a private hell where she can't sleep, she can barely make it through the day and she doesn't want to face anyone, no matter how good their intentions.
One of the long standing jokes between Gerry and Holly and their best friends was that they would need to write each other a list of things to do. A couple of months after Gerry's death, Holly's mother reminds her that there is an envelope at her house addressed to her, and when Holly opens the envelope and finds lots of little envelopes in their she is surprised to find that Gerry has done just that. There is one instruction in each little envelope and most of them are signed "PS I Love You".
Some of them are jokey instructions, but others are designed to get Holly out of the house, and out with her friends, and to stretch her ready for the new life that she has to have without Gerry. Along the way, Holly learns to deal with her grief, makes new friends, watches the lives of her best girlfriends as their lives moves forward.
Holly's grief is overwhelming at the start of the book, and yet still tinged with humour, enough so that it isn't completely morbid. If I do have any criticism of this book, there would be two things. One is to do with the cliched nature of a couple of the family members, particularly her emotionally withdrawn elder brother. The other thing would be that when Holly did decide to do some things within her life, it was oh so easy for her. At one stage, she realises that she is going to run out of money, and voila money appears. When she decides that she is going to look for a job, and that she is not going to settle for one of the typical humdrum jobs she has had in the past she gets a dream job at her first attempt. I didn't want to read about her going through dozens and dozens of interviews, but by the same token, getting a dream job when you have no experience in that field should not be quite so easy.
For me, having loved Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes when I read it last year, it is inevitable that I would make comparisons given the similarities in the themes. Whilst I did enjoy this one, the Keyes was definitely a better book. This was certainly a good debut though, taking some very difficult emotional issues and dealing with them with aplomb.
Whenever I finish reading a book I come and start the review post, and most of the time I write just a couple of sentences so that when I come to write the actual review I can remember my initial reaction. For this book I wrote the following:
Oh my goodness. I feel drained. Read this in one sitting. Laughed, cried, laughed again. Cried buckets.I'm glad to have read this book, and will definitely be attempting to find more books by her. Now, I just have to keep an eye out for the movie to see whether it was a good book to movie transition. Having Gerry Butler in it certainly won't harm the chances of me enjoying the movie.
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