No one is more surprised than Lola Daly when they hear of Paddy deCourcy’s engagement to Alicia Thornton. As his girlfriend, she is justifiably upset that he is marrying another woman. A phone call quickly clarifies the matter – that she, Lola, would never do as a politician’s wife. Heartbroken, she flees to the countryside of Ireland to recover.
Meanwhile, journalist Grace Gildee is after Lola. She knows of the clandestine relationship and is determined to unmask Paddy. Grace is not just after him professionally, but also because of Paddy’s first girlfriend, Grace’s sister Marny. Beaten by Paddy to a pulp and into the ICU as a teenager, Marny has never recovered from her abusive relationship. Even with a wonderful husband who loves her incredibly and two sweet little girls, Marny is still haunted by her memories of Paddy. She turns to alcohol, and eventually her husband leaves her for the safety of their children.
As Lola recovers in the countryside she has some adventures, and her house becomes a safe haven for a bunch of secret transvestites. Strangely enough, her neighbor, the manly Rossa Considine eventually joins her clandestine meetings, and she is able to confide in him (or his alter ego Chloe) about her abusive relationship with Paddy. Eventually, she starts to move on, but is still hounded by Grace to reveal her story.
The leader of the political party of which Paddy is a member of, Dee Rosini, is a firm believer in female empowerment. Previously in an abusive relationship, Dee knows the damage men can do to a woman. When scandal after scandal rocks Dee, Grace sets out to find who the culprit behind the attacks are, and it becomes obvious that Paddy is orchestrating it all.
Will all the women be able to stand up to their greatest tormentor, and more importantly, will they be able to move on?
The book is amazing on so many levels. It jumps between three characters (Lola, Marnie and Grace) and between the three of them, you begin to understand what a true bastard DeCourcy really is. To be honest, I think I dislike him more than I disliked Dolores Umbridge. The character is excellently written – a powerful, attractive and charming man who is a horrible person underneath the sophistication.
I particularly found Lola hilarious. Her little transvestite club and talking to her dead mother made for some interesting pages. Also, I felt for her because her DeCourcy horrors were the newest of them all.
This Charming Man manages to be funny and tell some truths at the same time. 1) Abusive men will always be abusive, they will never change 2) If untreated, and you will never fully recover from abuse and 3) No matter how hard you try to stop it all, some bastard will always be out there hurting someone.
If possible, this is my favourite Marian Keyes book. I would thoroughly recommend it to all.