Review: The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes


Title: The Woman Who Stole My Life

Author: Marian Keyes

Published: Penguin UK / Penguin AU  November 2014

Read an Extract

Status: Read from November 06 to 08, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Irish author Marian Keyes has published a string of bestselling chick lit novels since the mid 1990’s including the popular Walsh Family series.

The Woman Who Stole My Life is a stand alone title featuring Stella Sweeney, a Dublin wife, mother and beautician, whose ordinary life is turned completely upside down when she falls ill with a rare illness.

The timeline is a little messy to begin with, starting with a fender bender that happened a few weeks before Stella got sick and then jumping to the ‘present day’ almost two years later and then back in time – heralded by a quote from the book Stella wrote after her recovery – to the day her illness was diagnosed. It becomes slightly less confusing as the novel progresses, with one narrative thread moving forward from the time of her diagnosis and the other through the present day, until they eventually merge.

The tension in the novel is supposed to stem from learning what happened to irrevocably change Stella’s life not once, but thrice. Unfortunately the ‘mystery’ is stretched a little too thin to sustain the length of the story and though I was riveted during the first half or so of the novel my interest began to wane during Stella’s time in New York. There is a lot of emphasis on ‘karma’, and fate, but oddly not a lot of examples of this playing out in the storyline. Gilda certainly doesn’t get what you would think she deserves, neither does Stella’s ex-husband, or her son.

I should have been able to relate to Stella easily, we are of a similar age and stage of life, and I did in some respects, but I soon found I didn’t like her much once she recovered from her illness. She was so insecure, particularly in her relationship with Mannix, and lacked any real gumption in general. I also found most of the other supporting characters were shallow constructions, though Stella’s dad, Karen, Stella’s sister, and Roland, Mannix’s brother, were favourites.

There is some of Keyes humour in The Woman Who Stole My Life, particularly in the first half, but overall I feel it lacked the trademark wit and warmth I expect from Keyes. There is an edge of bitterness here that is never explicit, but nevertheless present.

I didn’t dislike The Woman Who Stole My Life but neither did I wholly enjoy it as much as I expected. It was better than The Brightest Star in the Sky but not as good as say The Mystery of Mercy Close.


Available to purchase from

Penguin UK I AmazonUK I BookDepository I Amazon US

Penguin AU Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I Amazon AUvia Booko

and all good bookstores.

AUS Cover


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marcia
    Nov 12, 2014 @ 19:45:15

    Great review Shelleyrae. This one is actually on my pile and I hope I get a bit more enjoyment (sans confusion) than you did.



  2. Deborah
    Nov 12, 2014 @ 22:49:38

    I haven’t read any Marian Keyes novels, but I’m thinking I shouldn’t start with this one!



  3. Holly (2 Kids and Tired)
    Nov 15, 2014 @ 05:55:26

    I haven’t read Keyes and I was curious about this one. I’m thinking I’ll pass on it.



  4. stacybuckeye
    Nov 22, 2014 @ 12:10:22

    An author I’ve always been curious about but this doesn’t look like a great one for a first read.



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