Excerpt provided by Syndetics
<anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">Anybody Out There? Chapter One Mum flung open the sitting-room door and announced, "Morning, Anna, time for your tablets." She tried to march briskly, like nurses she'd seen on hospital dramas, but there was so much furniture in the room that instead she had to wrestle her way toward me. When I'd arrived in Ireland eight weeks earlier, I couldn't climb the stairs, because of my dislocated kneecap, so my parents had moved a bed downstairs into the Good Front Room. Make no mistake, this was a huge honor: under normal circumstances we were only let into this room at Christmastime. The rest of the year, all familial leisure activities -- television watching, chocolate eating, bickering -- took place in the cramped converted garage, which went by the grand title of Television Room. But when my bed was installed in the GFR there was nowhere for the other fixtures -- tasseled couches, tasseled armchairs -- to go. The room now looked like a discount furniture store, where millions of couches are squashed in together, so that you almost have to clamber over them like boulders along the seafront. "Right, missy." Mum consulted a sheet of paper, an hour-by-hour schedule of all my medication -- antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants, sleeping pills, high-impact vitamins, painkillers that -induced a very pleasant floaty feeling, and a member of the Valium family, which she had ferried away to a secret location. All the different packets and jars stood on a small, elaborately carved table -- several china dogs of unparalleled hideousness had been shifted to make way for them and now sat on the floor looking reproachfully at me -- and Mum began sorting through them, popping out capsules and shaking pills from bottles. My bed had been thoughtfully placed in the window bay so that I could look out at passing life. Except that I couldn't: there was a net curtain in place that was as immovable as a metal wall. Not physically immovable, you understand, but socially immovable: in Dublin suburbia brazenly lifting your nets to have a good look at "passing life" is a social gaffe akin to painting the front of your house Schiaparelli pink. Besides, there was no passing life. Except . . . actually, through the gauzy barrier, I'd begun to notice that most days an elderly woman stopped to let her dog wee at our gatepost -- sometimes I thought the dog, a cute black-and-white terrier, didn't even want to wee, but it was looking as if the woman was insisting. "Okay, missy." Mum had never called me "missy" before all of this. "Take these." She tipped a handful of pills into my mouth and passed me a glass of water. She was very kind really, even if I suspected she was just acting out a part. "Dear Jesus," a voice said. It was my sister Helen, home from a night's work. She stood in the doorway of the sitting room, looked around at all the tassels, and asked, "How can you stand it?" Helen is the youngest of the five of us and still lives in the parental home, even though she's twenty-nine. But why would she move out, she often asks, when she's got a rent-free gig, cable telly, and a built-in chauffeur (Dad). The food, of course, she admits, is a problem, but there are ways around everything. "Hi, honey, you're home," Mum said. "How was work?" After several career changes, Helen -- and I'm not making this up, I wish I was -- is a private investigator. Mind you, it sounds far more -dangerous and exciting than it is; she mostly does white-collar crime and "domestics" -- where she has to get proof of men having affairs. I would find it terribly depressing but she says it doesn't bother her because she's always known that men were total scumbags. She spends a lot of time sitting in wet hedges with a long-range lens, trying to get photographic evidence of the adulterers leaving their love nest. She could stay in her nice, warm, dry car but then she tends to fall asleep and miss her mark. "Mum, I'm very stressed," she said, "Any chance of a Valium?" "No." "My throat is killing me. War-crime sore. I'm going to bed." Helen, on account of all the time she spends in damp hedges, gets a lot of sore throats. "I'll bring you up some ice cream in a minute, pet," Mum said. "Tell me, I'm dying to know, did you get your mark?" Mum loves Helen's job, nearly more than she loves mine, and that's saying a lot. (Apparently, I have the Best Job in the WorldTM.) Occasionally, when Helen is very bored or scared, Mum even goes to work with her; the Case of the Missing Woman comes to mind. Helen had to go to the woman's apartment, looking for clues (air tickets to Rio, etc. As if . . .) and Mum went along because she loves seeing inside other people's houses. She says it's amazing how dirty people's homes are when they're not expecting visitors. This gives her great relief, making it easier to live in her own less-than-pristine crib. However, because her life had begun to resemble, however briefly, a crime drama, Mum got carried away and tried to break down the locked apartment door by running at it with her shoulder -- even though, and I can't stress this enough, Helen had a key . And Mum knew she had it. It had been given to her by the missing woman's sister and all Mum got for her trouble was a badly mashed shoulder. "It's not like on the telly," she complained afterward, kneading the top of her arm. Then, earlier this year, someone tried to kill Helen. The general consensus was not so much shock that such a dreadful thing would happen as amazement that it hadn't come to pass much sooner. Of course, it wasn't really an attempt on her life. Someone threw a stone through the television-room window during an episode of EastEnders -- probably just one of the local teenagers expressing his feelings of youthful alienation, but . . . Anybody Out There? . Copyright © by Marian Keyes. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Anybody Out There?: [A Novel] by Marian Keyes All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.</anon>
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Keyes returns to the Walsh family with humor and drama by focusing on fourth sister Anna who is recovering from a tragedy in Dublin under Mammy Walsh's care. Returning to her job in New York as a PR executive for Candy Girrrl cosmetics, Anna has a real desire to reconnect with her now strangely absent husband, Aidan, whether it's through phone calls, the Internet, support groups, psychics, mediums, or other paranormal activities. Keyes finds the right balance of pathos and wit by entwining Anna's plight with emails from mom and Helen in two minor subplots that strain believability but keep the book from turning maudlin as Anna's memory returns. Terry Donnelly provides the characters' dark wit very well. Recommended.-Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
International bestseller Keyes is back with another quirky, heartwarming story of the Walsh sisters (Angels, etc.). Anna Walsh has returned to the bosom of her family in the Dublin suburbs to recuperate from the horrendous car accident that has left her with multiple fractures and a disfiguring scar across her face. Desperate to go back to New York and resume her normal life, she soon packs up her bags and returns to her job in beauty PR for punk cosmetics brand Candy Grrrl. A lonely and debilitated Anna leaves e-mails and phone messages for her mysteriously absent husband, Aidan, pleading for him to reply. Just as the reader is bursting with indignation that the cad hasn't contacted her (a quarter of the way into the novel), we learn that Aidan died in the car accident, and that Anna's missives are her way of dealing with grief. Desperate for contact, Anna tries charlatan psychics, celebrity mediums and contacting-the-dead support groups. Meanwhile, she reminisces about their courtship and marriage while her kooky family (especially her Mum and hyperactive PI sister Helen) tries to buoy her spirits. Keyes's trademark blend of humor, diverse characters and a warm but unsentimental tone strikes gold. (May 9) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
So tantalizing is the mystery behind Anna Walsh's multiple debilitating and disfiguring injuries, it would be criminal to explain why the self-proclaimed owner of the Best Job in the World (PR maven for Candy Grrrl cosmetics) has left her trendy New York life to recuperate in the good front room of her parents' Dublin cottage, since Keyes herself strings readers along until the end of part 1 before revealing the cause of Anna's broken bones and broken heart. Suffice it to say that readers will be as devastated as Anna is to learn what awaits her when she returns to America and begins the agonizing process of rebuilding her shattered life. Hardly sounds like the stuff of raucous humor, now does it? And yet Keyes' latest madcap escapade starring one of the five wacky Walsh sisters teems with moments of joyous hilarity and laugh-out-loud humor. Anna is the kind of gal every woman would want as her best friend, sister, or daughter. Plucky doesn't begin to describe her approach to life, and her journey of self-discovery can stand as a provocative lesson in how to cope with demoralizing crises. Keyes fans will embrace this as her best yet, and first-time Keyes readers will want to read everything she's written. --Carol Haggas Copyright 2006 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Keyes's proven formula for success--a chatty, engaging heroine, a bawdy sense of humor, an unhappy turn of events--works again in her eighth novel (The Other Side of the Story, 2004, etc.). Three of the five Irish Walsh girls have novels of their own, and now it's time for Anna's story. The first 100 pages build up a mystery of sorts: Anna lies dazed in the front parlor of her parent's Dublin home as her mother nurses her back to health. On her daily walk, the local schoolboys call her Frankenstein, and for good reason. With deep cuts and bandages on her face, fingers without nails, an arm cast and a limp, Anna has never looked less stylish (except when she wore all those hippie skirts). There are flashbacks to her recent life in New York, where she has The Best Job in the World in cosmetics public relations, and a hunky, adorable husband, Aidan. So what happened to Anna, and where's Aidan in her time of need? Against everyone's pleading, Anna returns to New York, and we learn the tragic truth: Anna and Aidan were in a car accident in which Aidan died. Now, Anna rings his cell phone everyday to hear his voicemail, she e-mails him about work, she wails at night and can't imagine life without him. Over 400 pages of a widow's emotional recovery would be hard-going if not for Keyes's humor and grand cast of characters with their own quirky subplots. Back in Dublin, baby sister Helen, an unlikely private investigator, keeps Anna updated on her current big case--tailing the local crime lords' misses, while Mammy Walsh keeps Anna current on her own little mystery--an old lady regularly brings her dog to poo on the Walsh's doorstep. And now, desperate to find out where Aidan is, Anna starts frequenting afterlife psychics, which introduces a whole new set of oddballs. Anna begins to crawl out of her sorrow, but Keyes is cautious with the expected happy ending--for all the comedy, she creates a vivid portrait of grief. The very best in chick-lit. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.