Review of Just Between Us, a novel by Cathy Kelly
I am reviewing the paperback version of this novel, published by Harper Collins, ISBN 006514782, cover price £6.99, 634 pages. Genre:- Modern Fiction.
The PlotThe plot revolves around the lives of the Miller family, parents Hugh and Rose, their three daughters, single mother Stella, T.V. Writer Tara and the dreamy, shy baby of the family, Holly, and their little granddaughter, Amelia.
The family are well known in the home town of Kinvarra. Hugh is a respected local lawyer and he and his elegant, graceful wife are making plans for their 40th wedding anniversary. Hugh’s unmarried sister Adele does not approve of the grandiose arrangements being made any more than she approves of her beloved brother’s wife, a person she feels is socially below the Miller family. Rose is well aware of her sister in law’s animosity and does her best to ignore her sly jibes and comments.
Rose has troubles of her own to cope with, she is worried about her daughters. Stella seems indifferent to making a new life for herself following her divorce from Glenn, Amelia’s father.
Stella‘s life revolves around her child and her job. Tara is a newly wed, having married Finn within months of their first meeting. Tara is very independent and Finn, whilst a pleasant, personable man, seems to run along behind Tara in a daze. Finn and Tara’s married life is centred around numerous social commitments and business meetings. Rose is also concerned over Holly, she feels an immense guilt over her youngest daughter, who on the surface seems to have a wonderful life, living in Dublin and working in a high class department store, yet never seems to have friends other than the odd ball couple who live next door to her.
Rose suffered severe post natal depression after Holly’s birth, which she did not admit to at the time, or seek medical help for. In recent years, she has begun to think is the reason for her feelings of remoteness towards the pretty, quiet Holly. She feels that she didn’t ever truly bond with Holly as she did with her older girls.
As the story unfolds, the author guides the plot through the lives of Rose and Hugh and their daughters, in a meandering, yet well constructed fashion. Stella’s world is rocked by a chance meeting. Tara is devastated by revelations from her husband’s sister. Holly tries to develop confidence with the help of her neighbours.
The reader cannot second guess the final outcome, although there are clues and hints aplenty.
Strangely though, it isn’t until the end of the story that you actually realise they were there!
The climax of the story which rocks the worlds of every character in different ways is unexpected, yet perfectly understandable when you add together all the events that preceded it.
A remarkable, memorable plot, which is believable and totally convincing.
About The Author
Cathy Kelly was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but brought up in Dublin. She started her working life as a journalist for an Irish national newspaper. She worked as both a news and feature reporter, and worked as the paper’s film critic for five years, as well as being the agony aunt for seven years.
Her first book, Woman To Woman, was published in 1997 and was an instant best seller, the novel spent eight weeks at number one on the Irish best-seller charts. Her subsequent novels have been number ones all around the world and are published in many different languages. Cathy has a total of 13 novels under her belt.
Cathy lives in Wicklow in Ireland with her partner, John, and their twin sons, Murray and Dylan.In 2005, she was appointed as a UNICEF Ireland Ambassador. She’s since visited Mozambique and Rwanda as part of her work with UNICEF. Global Parenting which involves caring for children orphaned or affected by HIV/AIDS, is the main focus of her work with UNICEF.My research source for information about the author was her web site which can be found at:- www.cathy-kelly.com
My Thoughts and Conclusions
Cathy Kelly is fast becoming one of my favourite authors of modern fiction. I have read several of her novels in recent months and without exception, have enjoyed each one.
Just Between Us explores the family secrets and intrigues within the Miller family in a sensitive yet slightly humorous fashion. The characters are very well drawn and are shown warts and all. I felt that as each sisters’ drama unfolded, the secrecy each one felt honour bound to keep, held the reader spellbound. The issues faced by the older members of the Miller family were so very well described that I found myself truly caring what became of Rose and Hugh.
Cathy Kelly has explored in a down to earth, no nonsense manner, several subjects which are still socially taboo, such as infidelity, alcoholism and mental health issues. Her character’s strengths and weaknesses help to make them all the more believable.
I would imagine that many readers would look at the cover of Just Between Us and dismiss it as light and fluffy ‘Chick-lit’, but they would be wrong. This novel is a punchy, well-written look at the lives both behind the scenes and otherwise, of a modern Irish family.
I would recommend this novel to others.
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 January 2011
N.B. My reviews may be found on other review sites under the same user name.