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Rachel's Holiday (1997)

by Marian Keyes

Series: Rachel Walsh (1), Walsh Family (2)

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2,644525,595 (3.78)51
The fast lane is much too slow for Rachel Walsh. And Manhattan is the perfect place for a young Irish female to overdo everything. But Rachel's love of a good time is about to land her in the emergency room. It will also cost her a job and the boyfriend she adores. When her loving family hustles her back home and checks her into Ireland's answer to the Betty Ford Clinic, Rachel is hopeful. Perhaps it will be lovely-spa treatments, celebrities, that kind of thing. Instead, she finds a lot of group therapy, which leads her, against her will, to some important self-knowledge. She will also find something that all women like herself fear: a man who might actually be good for her.… (more)
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» See also 51 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
I’d avoided Marian Keyes’ books, wrongly assuming they were shallow chic-lit given the way they are marketed. But I was impressed by her on a book review (celebrating 25 years since Rachel’s Holiday was published) & immediately downloaded a copy of the novel.

And not disappointed.

Keyes illuminates drug-addiction in a way that is funny, clear-eyed, compassionate & psychologically convincing. She does this masterfully through an unreliable 20-something narrator, Rachel, who relates her story of partying in New York and of being sent back to Ireland by her family to holiday in a rehab centre. Rachel is funny, feckless & relatable. Here’s a typical excerpt:

« I put my hair up, I took it down, I put it up again. I took it down again. I finally decided to put it up and leave it.
Just before I left, I took it down again.«

Wonderful effortless-seeming writing, unforced humour, a cast of recognisable people, and a chance to walk in someone else’s (uncomfortable) shoes. ( )
  LARA335 | Sep 16, 2023 |
This just difdn't work for me.

FROM AMAZON: 'How did it end up like this? Twenty-seven, unemployed, mistaken for a drug addict, in a treatment centre in the back arse of nowhere with an empty Valium bottle in my knickers....'

Meet Rachel Walsh.

She's been living it up in New York City, spending her nights talking her way into glamorous parties before heading home in the early hours to her hot boyfriend, Luke.

But her sensible older sister showing up and sending her off to actual rehab wasn't quite part of her plan.

She's only agreed to her incarceration because she's heard that rehab is wall-to-wall Jacuzzis, gymnasiums and rock stars going cold turkey - plus it's about time she had a holiday.

Saying goodbye to fun will be hard. But not as hard as losing the man who she realises, all too late, might just be the love of her life.... ( )
  Gmomaj | Jun 17, 2023 |
Oh man, when I first read this book I loved it but it doesn’t quite hold up in 2022. Still enjoyed the story and the characters but I was constantly jolted by casual problematic quips about race, gender, body size, rape and an oddly sympathetic handling of domestic violence. ( )
  Amzzz | Sep 3, 2022 |
I've been trying to remember when I first read Rachel's Holiday and I've come to the conclusion that it must have been when it was first published in 1997 as I clearly remember looking forward to Marian Keyes' next book, Last Chance Saloon, being published because I had loved Rachel's Holiday so much. In fact, I've always thought that this book was my favourite Keyes. Did I still think that after my reread? Well, read on.

Rachel Walsh is 27 and living in New York, away from her family in her native Ireland. You might think this means she has her life together but in fact her life is a mess, lurching from drug to drug, drink to drink. Rachel is a bit of a catastrophe but a fun-loving, somewhat likeable one. She shares a flat with her best friend, Brigit, and has a boyfriend who gets her hot under the collar but one drug-fuelled night too many sees her returning to Ireland to enter The Cloisters, a rehab centre that Rachel, in her haze, expects to be full of Jacuzzis, saunas and swimming pools.

Rachel's Holiday is THE most wonderful book. It's full of humour that had me laughing out loud on so many occasions. Keyes has such a dry and witty way of describing people and situations that just chimed with me. But there is a serious story underneath Rachel's surface, that of addiction and the effects not only on the addict but on those around them. Rachel and her fellow 'inmates' at The Cloisters go on such a journey, both physical and emotional, that it's impossible not to feel for them. I was so moved and at one point tears sprang into my eyes as I realised there was more to one of the characters than I (and Rachel) had at first realised.

At 600 pages you might imagine the story would dip in the middle, or not keep the reader's attention. Wrong! I was fully embroiled in Rachel's story from beginning to end and if it had been longer I would have been rejoicing. I'm certainly thrilled to know that we’ll be hearing more from Rachel in Again Rachel, out February 2022.

So is it still my favourite Keyes? Yes! Rachel's Holiday is superb in every way. It's emotional, it's sexy, it's hilarious, it's thought-provoking and thoughtful, and it's real. I LOVED it! ( )
  nicx27 | Dec 7, 2021 |
The simplest way that I can describe Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes is that I was impressed by how much it accomplished and yet I didn't like it at all. It's a complicated thing, because a large part of the reason I didn't like it was because the main character's attitude, actions, and state of denial were SO AGGRAVATING. Like, holy shit, I wanted to shake this woman and never let her go. But then that's the whole reason the author was successful - because she did such a spot-on job of portraying a non-recovering drunk, and then a newly-recovered drunk, and then a relapsed-drunk, and then a comfortably-settled-into-recovery drunk.

I hated how aggravating the main character was but she was aggravating because people in that state are aggravating. As a recovering alcoholic, I'm sure my behavior was just as confusing to other's as Rachel's was to me. I'm sure my denial, my entitlement, and my ability to find really bizarro excuses for my behavior were no better. And yet, it's rather unpleasant to be stuck in this character's head for hundreds of pages.

All of that said, would I recommend this book to a friend? Well, that depends on what you're looking for. A fun little book that lives up to the pastel purple cover and fun-loving stick figure above the title? Yeah, that's not here. Do you want answers to those, "What the hell were they thinking?!?" questions you've had about people whose lives have gone to hell yet can't seem to stop their bad behavior? Well, this book will answer those questions - though I don't know that you'll like the answers. ( )
1 vote agnesmack | Jul 29, 2016 |
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The fast lane is much too slow for Rachel Walsh. And Manhattan is the perfect place for a young Irish female to overdo everything. But Rachel's love of a good time is about to land her in the emergency room. It will also cost her a job and the boyfriend she adores. When her loving family hustles her back home and checks her into Ireland's answer to the Betty Ford Clinic, Rachel is hopeful. Perhaps it will be lovely-spa treatments, celebrities, that kind of thing. Instead, she finds a lot of group therapy, which leads her, against her will, to some important self-knowledge. She will also find something that all women like herself fear: a man who might actually be good for her.

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