Rachel's Holiday

Rachel's Holiday

4.3 93
by Marian Keyes

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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

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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.

Editorial Reviews

Rachel's Holiday, by bestselling British author Marian Keyes (author of Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married and Watermelon), is a poignant, madcap story of life in the fast lane. Rachel Walsh (the wild younger sister of the heroine of Watermelon) is living in New York, working hard and playing harder. For Rachel, every night is a party, until she makes what she calls a stupid little mistake. If her overindulgence had only involved a little too much to drink and an attempt to write poetry, no one would have been alarmed. But the addition of a few sleeping pills adds up to what the hospital calls an overdose. Rachel's New York friends call it just plain stupid, and her loving family calls it a disaster. After the ER docs pump her stomach and her boyfriend dumps her, the Walsh clan hustles their wild child onto the first plane back to Ireland, where they've booked her into the Cloisters, a drug treatment center. Rachel would be the first to agree she needs a holiday, but she finds the Cloisters is no celebrity spa. In fact, it's definitely no holiday for Rachel to face hard facts, battle her demons, and get her life back on track. Rachel's Holiday is tough, tender and funny all at once, with a wild, wonderful love story to sweeten the mix.
Denise Kersten
In Rachel's Holiday Keyes deftly navigates the psychological disaster zone of a drug problem beginning with the first sate: denial. She constructs the mind-set of an addict: Rachel's desperate excuses and explanations reach absurd levels.

After Rachel ODs and her abstention fascist roommates called her family in Ireland, she ends up back home in a treatment center. There she watches as Josephine, her bad-cop counselor, breaks through the walls of denial with the "brown sweater" (tea drinking middle-aged men with a penchant for cardigans who fill the center) and the other addicts.

All of this sounds terribly depressing. But Keyes handles it with a light touch, injecting humor at every turn. Rachel is an endearing character, and her progress, however slow, is genuinely satisfying. It's clear from the depth of character profiles and group therapy scenes that Keyes, who is married to a psychiatrist, did her homework. That's what makes the novel so compelling.
USA Today

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Irish by birth but a trendy New Yorker for the past eight years, Rachel Walsh learns just what it means to have too much fun in this lively drama about addiction and recovery. Rachel enjoys cocaine, alcohol and meeting men in bars, especially men wearing tight leather pants. She can match anybody's hilarious anecdotes about a Catholic childhood, but recently her life's gone awry, and God has become "more like a celestial stand-up comic" than a "benign old guy with long hair." When she wakes up in a hospital emergency room and finds she's been diagnosed as a suicidal drug addict, she's enraged. She's also broke and unemployed, and her boyfriend has abandoned her. As a final indignity, her father takes her back home and books her into Dublin's Betty Ford-like clinic, the Cloisters. Famous for a clientele of rock stars, it should be a glamorous spa, but it isn't. Quarters are spartan, clients do housework and group therapy is humiliating. It could be worse, though, and there's one good-looking fellow-inmate who might, or might not, be a lifeline post-Cloisters. This novel isn't a how-to on overcoming addiction but an examination, often comic, of treatment that is expected to result in personality changes necessary for recovery. Smart-ass Rachel actually becomes a beguiling heroine after learning to wake up and cook eggs at about the same time in the morning she used to fall into somebody's bed in New York. Clever badinage ("the only way to get over one man is get under another") unfortunately sometimes gives way to phrases like "pantie-meltingly gorgeous." The narrative is overlong, and the characters rarely speak--they yell or shriek--but, overall, Keyes's stylish wit keeps readers attentive, and her take on addiction is insightful and compassionate. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Irish author Keyes continues her pleasantly amusing storytelling, although this book has more of an edge than last year's Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married (LJ 4/15/99). Rachel Walsh is definitely not a drug addict--everyone does cocaine every now and then, right? But her roommate, Brigit, and semi-boyfriend, Luke, see a problem. Simply to pacify her friends and family, Rachel checks into an Irish rehab center called the Cloisters, expecting daily massages and seaweed wraps. Rachel is devastated to learn that she is enrolled in a real drug treatment center! We follow Rachel as she confronts her addiction and learns a lot about herself. The story is funny, fast paced, and sometimes intense. It's also long--and while it is an enjoyable read, it would have been spunkier at half the size. FYI: the movie is already in development. Recommended for public libraries.--Beth Gibbs, formerly with P.L. of Charlotte & Mecklenburg Cty., NC Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Kirkus Reviews
A doorstopper-sized third novel from Keyes (Watermelon, 1998; Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, 1999) exhibits her signature wit but is sometimes slowed by exposition. From the family introduced in Keyes's first outing, we're introduced to Rachel as she's coming out of a New York hospital after a drug overdose, an episode she's just chalking up to another night of partying. And when her sister flies to New York to escort her home to Ireland to enter into a treatment center, she can't fathom what all the fuss is about. But thanks to Dad, who has virtually had her fired from her job, her boyfriend Luke, who breaks up with her, and childhood friend Brigit, who is kicking her out of their apartment, Rachel "decides" a holiday back home might be nice. And it's not just any treatment center, but the Cloisters, Ireland's own Betty Ford Clinic, filled with celebrities and offering what Rachel assumes will be a two-month vacation. How wrong she is. With not a rock star in sight, Rachel soon discovers that the Cloisters is a no-nonsense place, a little dingy and filled with middle-aged alcoholics (how depressing), druggies (how nasty), and an assortment of other addicts who are nothing like Rachel, just a fun-loving gal. Denial is the operative word, and Rachel soon discovers that it's everybody's modus operandi: to listen to the inmates, no one has a problem. Still, thanks to all-day therapy sessions and a Gestapo-like nun for a counselor, Rachel concedes that perhaps she overdid it on occasion, and when ex-boyfriend Luke comes to testify that her 24-hour drug use ruined their relationship, Rachel breaks down and begins to heal. Though she offers a lively cast, Keyes too often lets her paceslowwhen explaining the journey to acceptance and recovery, a damper on the story's humor and appeal. Occasionally long-winded but, nonetheless, a comic glimpse into the life of addiction.

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Rachel's Holiday

Chapter One

They said I was a drug addict. I found that hard to come to terms with—I was a middle-class, convent-educated girl whose drug use was strictly recreational. And surely drug addicts were thinner? It was true that I took drugs, but what no one seemed to understand was that my drug use wasn't any different from their having a drink or two on a Friday night after work. They might have a few vodkas and tonic and let off a bit of steam. I had a couple of lines of cocaine and did likewise. As I said to my father and my sister and my sister's husband and eventually the therapists of the Cloisters, "If cocaine was sold in liquid form, in a bottle, would you complain about me taking it? Well, would you? No, I bet you wouldn't!"

I was offended by the drug-addict allegation, because I was nothing like one. Apart from the track marks on their arms, they had dirty hair, constantly seemed cold, did a lot of shoulder-hunching, wore cheap sneakers that looked like they'd been bought in Woolworth's, and were, as I've already mentioned, thin.

I wasn't thin.

Although it wasn't for the want of trying. I spent plenty of timeon the Stairmaster at the gym. But no matter how much I stairmastered, genetics had the final say. If my father had married a dainty little woman, I might have had a very different life. Very different thighs, certainly.

Instead, like my two older sisters, Claire and Margaret, I was doomed for people always to describe me by saying, "She's a big girl." Then they always added really quickly "Now, I'm not saying she's fat."

The implication being that if I was fat, I could at least dosomething about it.

"No," they would continue, "she's a fine, big, tall girl. You know, strong."

I was often described as strong.

It really pissed me off.

My boyfriend, Luke, sometimes described me as magnificent. (When the light was behind me and he'd had several beers.) At least that was what he said to me. Then he probably went back to his friends and said, "Now, I'm not saying she's fat . . . "

The whole drug-addict allegation came about one February morning when I was living in New York.

It wasn't the first time I felt as if I was on Cosmic Candid Camera. My life was prone to veering out of control and I had long stopped believing that the God who had been assigned to me was a benign old guy with long hair and a beard. He was more like a celestial stand-up comic, and my life was the showcase he used to amuse the other Gods.

"Wa-atch," he laughingly invites, "as Rachel thinks she's got a new job and that it's safe to hand in her notice on the old. Little does she know that her new firm is just about to go bankrupt!"

Roars of laughter from all the other gods.

"Now, wa-atch," he chuckles, "as Rachel hurries to meet her new boyfriend. See how she catches the heel of her shoe in a grating? See how it comes clean off? Little did Rachel know that we had tampered with it. See how she limps the rest of the way?" More sniggers from the assembled gods.

"But the best bit of all," he laughs, "is that the man she was meeting never turns up! He only asked her out for a bet. Watch as Rachel squirms with embarrassment in the stylish bar. See the looks of pity the other women give her? See how the waiter gives her the extortionate bill for a glass of wine, and best of all, see how Rachel discovers she's left her purse at home?"

Uncontrollable guffaws.

The events that led to me being called a drug addict had the same element of celestial farce that the rest of my life had. What happened was, one night I'd sort of overdone it on the enlivening drugs and I couldn't get to sleep. (I hadn't meant to overdo it, I had simply underestimated the quality of the cocaine that I had taken.) I knew I had to get up for work the following morning, so I took a couple of sleeping pills. After about ten minutes, they hadn't worked, so I took a couple more. And still my head was buzzing, so in desperation, thinking of how badly I needed my sleep, thinking of how alert I had to be at work, I took a few more.

I eventually got to sleep. A lovely deep sleep. So lovely and deep that when the morning came, and my alarm clock went off, I neglected to wake up.

Brigit, my roommate, knocked on my door, then came into my room and shouted at me, then shook me, then, at her wit's end, slapped me. (I didn't really buy the "wit's end" bit. She must have known that slapping wouldn't wake me, but no one is in good form on a Monday morning.)

But then Brigit stumbled across a piece of paper that I'd been attempting to write on just before I fell asleep. It was just the usual maudlin, mawkish, self-indulgent poetry-type stuff I often wrote when I was under the influence. Stuff that seemed really profound at the time, where I thought I'd discovered the secret of the universe, but that caused me to blush with shame when I read it in the cold light of day—the parts that I could read, that is.

The poem went something like "Mumble, mumble, life . . . " something indecipherable, "bowl of cherries, mumble, all I get is the pits . . . " Then—and I vaguely remembered writing this part—I thought of a really good title for . . .

Rachel's Holiday. Copyright © by Marian Keyes. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

Marian Keyes is the author of ten bestselling novels and two essay collections. She lives in Ireland with her husband and their two imaginary dogs.

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