Here's Rachel Walsh, twenty-seven and the miserable owner of size 8 feet. She has regular congress with Luke Costello, a man who wears his leather trousers tight. And she's fond - some might say too fond - of recreational drugs. Until she finds herself being frogmarched to the Cloisters - Dublin's answer to the Betty Ford Clinic. She's outraged. Surely she's not thin enough to be an addict? Heartsick and Luke-sick, she seeks redemption in the shape of Chris, a man with a past. A man who might be more trouble than he's worth.
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Marian Keyes is the international bestselling author of Watermelon, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, Rachel's Holiday, Last Chance Saloon, Sushi for Beginners, Angels, The Other Side of the Story and Anybody Out There. Her latest novel is This Charming Man. She is published in twenty-nine different languages. Two collections of her journalism, Under the Duvet and Further Under the Duvet, are also published by Penguin. Marian lives in Dublin with her husband.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
They said I was a drug addict. I found that hard to come to terms with -- I was a middle-class, convent-educated girl whose drug use was strictly recreational. And surely drug addicts were thinner? It was true that I took drugs, but what no one seemed to understand was that my drug use wasn't any different from their having a drink or two on a Friday night after work. They might have a few vodkas and tonic and let off a bit of steam. I had a couple of lines of cocaine and did likewise. As I said to my father and my sister and my sister's husband and eventually the therapists of the Cloisters, "If cocaine was sold in liquid form, in a bottle, would you complain about me taking it? Well, would you? No, I bet you wouldn't!"
I was offended by the drug-addict allegation, because I was nothing like one. Apart from the track marks on their arms, they had dirty hair, constantly seemed cold, did a lot of shoulder-hunching, wore cheap sneakers that looked like they'd been bought in Woolworth's, and were, as I've already mentioned, thin.
I wasn't thin.
Although it wasn't for the want of trying. I spent plenty of timeon the Stairmaster at the gym. But no matter how much I stairmastered, genetics had the final say. If my father had married a dainty little woman, I might have had a very different life. Very different thighs, certainly.
Instead, like my two older sisters, Claire and Margaret, I was doomed for people always to describe me by saying, "She's a big girl." Then they always added really quickly "Now, I'm not saying she's fat."
The implication being that if I was fat, I could at least do something about it.
"No," they would continue, "she's a fine, big, tall girl. You know, strong."
I was often described as strong.
It really pissed me off.
My boyfriend, Luke, sometimes described me as magnificent. (When the light was behind me and he'd had several beers.) At least that was what he said to me. Then he probably went back to his friends and said, "Now, I'm not saying she's fat. . . "
The whole drug-addict allegation came about one February morning when I was living in New York.
It wasn't the first time I felt as if I was on Cosmic Candid Camera. My life was prone to veering out of control and I had long stopped believing that the God who had been assigned to me was a benign old guy with long hair and a beard. He was more like a celestial stand-up comic, and my life was the showcase he used to amuse the other Gods.
"Wa-atch," he laughingly invites, "as Rachel thinks she's got a new job and that it's safe to hand in her notice on the old. Little does she know that her new firm is just about to go bankrupt!"
Roars of laughter from all the other gods.
"Now, wa-atch," he chuckles, "as Rachel hurries to meet her new boyfriend. See how she catches the heel of her shoe in a grating? See how it comes clean off? Little did Rachel know that we had tampered with it. See how she limps the rest of the way?" More sniggers from the assembled gods.
"But the best bit of all," he laughs, "is that the man she was meeting never turns up! He only asked her out for a bet. Watch as Rachel squirms with embarrassment in the stylish bar. See the looks of pity the other women give her? See how the waiter gives her the extortionate bill for a glass of wine, and best of all, see how Rachel discovers she's left her purse at home?"
The events that led to me being called a drug addict had the same element of celestial farce that the rest of my life had. What happened was, one night I'd sort of overdone it on the enlivening drugs and I couldn't get to sleep. (I hadn't meant to overdo it, I had simply underestimated the quality of the cocaine that I had taken.) I knew I had to get up for work the following morning, so I took a couple of sleeping pills. After about ten minutes, they hadn't worked, so I took a couple more. And still my head was buzzing, so in desperation, thinking of how badly I needed my sleep, thinking of how alert I had to be at work, I took a few more.
I eventually got to sleep. A lovely deep sleep. So lovely and deep that when the morning came, and my alarm clock went off, I neglected to wake up.
Brigit, my roommate, knocked on my door, then came into my room and shouted at me, then shook me, then, at her wit's end, slapped me. (I didn't really buy the "wit's end" bit. She must have known that slapping wouldn't wake me, but no one is in good form on a Monday morning.)
But then Brigit stumbled across a piece of paper that I'd been attempting to write on just before I fell asleep. It was just the usual maudlin, mawkish, self-indulgent poetry-type stuff I often wrote when I was under the influence. Stuff that seemed really profound at the time, where I thought I'd discovered the secret of the universe, but that caused me to blush with shame when I read it in the cold light of day -- the parts that I could read, that is.
The poem went something like "Mumble, mumble, life..." something indecipherable, "bowl of cherries, mumble, all I get is the pits..." Then -- and I vaguely remembered writing this part -- I thought of a really good title for a poem about a shoplifter who had suddenly discovered her conscience. It was called I can't take anymore.
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Book Description Penguin UK, 2005. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 014102447X