The Year That Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly ~ Love, Friendship and Family Ties #WomensFiction @cathykellybooks #FridayReads

Author: Cathy Kelly

Performed by Caroline Lennon

Published: February 2018 by Orion

Category: Women’s Fiction, Romance, AudioBook, Review

Three women celebrate their birthdays . . . 30. 40. 50. But their milestone birthdays marks the start of a year that will change everything . . .

Ginger isn’t spending her 30th the way she would have planned. Tonight might be the first night of the rest of her life – or a total disaster.

Sam is finally pregnant after years of trying. When her waters break on the morning of her 40th birthday, she panics: forget labour, how is she going to be a mother?

Callie is celebrating her 50th at a big party in her Dublin home. Then a knock at the door mid-party turns her perfect life upside down . . .

Sam, Callie and Ginger, three women who don’t know each other and live in different places, but have one thing in common. Or two if you count the fact that they will each experience life changing events on their milestone birthdays. 

As far as outward appearances go, Ginger Reilly is spirited at work, answering the quips and jokes about her weight and dress sense with a smart retort. Privately she is self-conscious and insecure, hiding her true feelings and self behind large shapeless clothes and flat shoes. She spends her thirtieth birthday, not with her family as she envisaged, but as chief bridesmaid for her best friend Liza, wearing a horrible dress, but as always she defers to her friend. Resigned to the fact no-one is likely to find her attractive, there’s a definite bright spot to Ginger’s day in the form of Stephen, who seems quite taken with her. Ginger begins to believe he might be the one for her. Could her life be turning around at last? Then she overhears a conversation that shatters her completely.

Ginger Reilly, thirty years old today, and a spinster of this parish, as her Great-Aunt Grace might say jokingly, had only ever been on one other date in her whole life. He’d been a guy from college who’d eventually asked her out to the pub. He’d then proceeded to tell her how much he fancied her college mate. End of date.

Callie Reynolds seems to have everything. Her husband Jason is throwing Callie an elaborate 50th birthday party for two hundred guests at their impressive Dublin home. Callie would have preferred a quiet dinner but Jason always feels the need to advertise his accumulated wealth. Both he and Callie had grown up poor and for Jason, money and prestige were all that mattered. Callie would have loved her family to be there but after the row years ago she hadn’t been in touch. There was also the worry and annoyance at the attitude of their spoiled fourteen year old daughter. Then mid way through the party, unexpected and unwelcome callers arrive at the door.

First, she had to get through tonight – this enormous, entirely unwanted fiftieth birthday party that Jason insisted on throwing for her.

‘People will expect it from us,’ Jason had said. ‘We’ve got an image to maintain, honey.’

Callie was sick of their damned image.

Sam Kennedy has a career she loves and a wonderful relationship with her husband Ted. They desperately want a baby and, after years of trying and several failed IVF treatments, Sam is about to give birth to their first child on her fortieth birthday. It’s all she and Ted have ever wanted but as worry, fear of being inadequate and anxieties begin to surface, Sam agonised over her ability to be a good mother. Her own mother couldn’t be further from an ideal role model–cold and distant, she has never been forthcoming with her feelings or shown genuine love to Sam and her sister.

In fact now, after a night and a morning listening to the roars and the screams of what felt like every child in Ireland, Sam decided that sleeping like a baby was a concept that had been badly misnamed: babies did not appear to sleep at all.

It’s quite a while since I read a Cathy Kelly novel so when I saw this on Audible it was the perfect time to rectify that. The importance of love, friendship and family ties play a large part in the story. Despite their lives being turned upside down the three women have people they can turn to and rely on. The difficult and relevant issues, such as depression, body image, controlling relationships and deception on a grand scale are handled well.  

The narrative is split into sections, alternating between the three women. Ginger is a lovely person, kind and considerate, but struggles with her self-image and being true to herself. Callie, who doesn’t realise how she is being manipulated and finds the truth impossible to swallow. Sam always thought herself very capable at handing whatever situation she found herself in.. until she had to deal with being a mother and responsible for a tiny human being. We follow each of their stories individually until the threads eventually overlap and reach a satisfactory conclusion. The female characters are credible and strong (the male characters perhaps a little less so), their growth and discovery of their own self-worth and confidence through a year of immense change was very interesting to follow. All in all, an easy, very enjoyable listen, with Caroline Lennon’s wonderfully skilled narration.

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US

Born in Belfast but raised in Dublin, Cathy initially worked for thirteen years as a newspaper journalist with a national Irish Sunday newspaper, where she worked in news, features, along with spending time as an agony aunt and the paper’s film critic. However, her overwhelming love was always fiction and she published her first international bestseller, Woman To Woman, in 1997. She did not become a full-time writer until she had written another two books (She’s The One and Never Too Late) and finally decided to leave the world of journalism in 2001, moving to HarperCollins Publishers at the same time.

Cathy’s trademark is warm story-telling and she consistently tops the bestseller lists around the world with books which deal with themes ranging from relationships and marriage to depression and loss, but always with an uplifting message and strong female characters at the heart.

Cathy also has a passionate interest in children’s rights and is an ambassador for UNICEF Ireland. Her role for UNICEF is a Global Parent, which means raising funds and awareness for children orphaned by or living with HIV/AIDs.

She lives with her husband, John, their twin sons, Dylan and Murray, and their three dogs in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

Author links ~ Website | Facebook | Twitter  

8 thoughts on “The Year That Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly ~ Love, Friendship and Family Ties #WomensFiction @cathykellybooks #FridayReads

  1. I love the premise of this book. Sounds like a creative way to make insightful commentary on the significant milestones in a woman’s life through compelling women’s fiction. And I like the voice in the excerpts you’ve share, which gives us a great sense of the writing. My guess is Cathy is weary with being compared to Meave Binchy!

    Liked by 1 person

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