This Charming Man

( 45 )


The lives of four very different women have been shaped—and battered—by one charming man. . . .

Ireland's debonair politician Paddy de Courcy—the "John F. Kennedy Jr. of Dublin"—has captured tabloid headlines and the imagination of his country with his charm and charisma. But the crushed hearts he's left behind him reveal more about his character than his winning, votegetting smile. Lola, Grace, Marnie, and Alicia have all suffered from his selfishness and cruelty. But with ...

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This Charming Man: A Novel

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The lives of four very different women have been shaped—and battered—by one charming man. . . .

Ireland's debonair politician Paddy de Courcy—the "John F. Kennedy Jr. of Dublin"—has captured tabloid headlines and the imagination of his country with his charm and charisma. But the crushed hearts he's left behind him reveal more about his character than his winning, votegetting smile. Lola, Grace, Marnie, and Alicia have all suffered from his selfishness and cruelty. But with Paddy's political star ascending, the time is finally ripe for redemption . . . and perhaps a bit of revenge.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In her densest, most ambitious work yet, chick lit specialist Keyes (Sushi for Beginners) pushes into dark territory, exploring alcoholism, depression and domestic violence with authenticity and even offbeat humor. When Paddy de Courcy, "Ireland's most eligible politician," announces his engagement, the news breaks hearts all over Dublin. Lola Daly, a celebrity stylist who has been dating him for the past 16 months, is the most heartbroken of all and retreats to County Clare. Meanwhile, Dublin reporter Grace Gildee remembers Paddy from their college years, when he had a chaotic, codependent relationship with her twin sister, Marnie. Grace digs a little, and as the true extent of Paddy's capacity for evil is revealed, Grace moves to stop him—and to finally teach him a lesson. To do so, she must make fragile Marnie revisit the most painful years of her life and engineer Lola's return to Dublin. Dry wit and distinctive narrative voices add levity and balance to a sad set of life circumstances. Pages will fly like wafting hankies toward the stunning, breathless conclusion. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Paddy de Courcy is a rising political star in Ireland, with all the good looks and charisma of a Kennedy. Unfortunately, en route to realizing his political ambitions-a course culminating with his engagement to the "correct" political wife-to-be, Alicia-he's used and discarded several women. This novel's points of view alternate among four such women, and their distinct voices-e.g., when Lola narrates, it is without pronouns-make what might otherwise be a complicated story much easier to follow. For this is Keyes (Anybody Out There?), queen of chick-lit-with-a-purpose, and this time around, that purpose is examining, through her characters, a myriad of women's issues, primarily abuse and power. Lola, Paddy's most recent discard, is a fashion stylist who dresses Ireland's richest and most influential women. Grace is a journalist in a healthy relationship who also has a past with Paddy, as does her sister, Marnie, now married with children and amid some sort of breakdown. Together, these women's narratives form a sort of cacophony, until the individual melodies eventually weave together, creating a lovely yet engrossing story with an ending that should inspire women everywhere. Despite the Irishness of her setting and characters, Keyes explores universal themes that will resonate with readers. Her latest is highly recommended for all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ2/15/08.]
—Stacy Alesi

Kirkus Reviews
Four Dubliners regret misguided liaisons with a sadistic Irish politico. Keyes (Anybody Out There, 2006, etc.) displays her trademark uncanny ability to wring humor from cliches in this story of four women whose paths cross with that of handsome Irish party hack Paddy de Courcy. Lola, whose narration hilariously parodies the article and pronoun-challenged diary of Bridget Jones, learns from the press that Paddy, her boyfriend, is engaged to Alicia, a horsey widow respectable enough to be a political helpmeet. Grace, a Dublin tabloid reporter, and her fraternal twin sister Marnie, met Paddy while all three were students working in a Dublin pub. Grace flirted briefly with Paddy before losing him to Marnie. But as his ambitions escalate, Paddy dumps Marnie, leaving her emotionally shell-shocked. Lola, fashion advisor to Dublin's nouveau riche matrons, had found Paddy's sexual proclivities increasingly problematic, but she's so unsettled by his summary betrayal that she flees to a rustic seaside cabin in County Clare, where she becomes reluctant housemother to a growing contingent of transvestites. A brief fling with a surfer helps her weather Paddy's rejection, but memories of how his kinky sexuality segued into "isolated" acts of physical abuse undermine her struggle to recover her sense of self-worth. Grace learns that Paddy may be behind the seemingly random torching of her sports car, but withholds her full history with him from the reader. She's more preoccupied with trying to keep Marnie, who until recently lived happily in London with her commodities trader husband Nick and two daughters, from drinking herself to death. The weight of attention devoted to Marnie's harrowing alcoholicfree-fall deemphasizes and defuses the devastating impact of Paddy's horrendous behavior. The gradual reveal of Paddy's monstrosity toward the novels' women, interspersed with the flip entertainment of Lola's Bridget Jones-speak, generates a jarring unevenness of tone. Flabby, often implausible plot propelled by original prose. Agent: Emma Parry/Fletcher & Parry
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061124044
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/5/2010
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 563
  • Sales rank: 773,930
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Marian Keyes

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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Read an Excerpt

This Charming Man
A Novel

Chapter One


Day zero. Monday, August 25, 2:25 P.M.

The worst day of my life. When the first wave of shock released me from its fiendish grip, I couldn't help but notice that Paddy hadn't called me. Ominous. I was his girlfriend, the media was going wild that he was getting married to another woman, and he hadn't called me. Bad sign.

Called his private mobile. Not his ordinary private one, but the private private one that only I and his personal trainer have. It rang four times, then went to message; then I knew it was true.

End of world.

Called his office, called his home, kept ringing his mobile, left fifty-one messages for him—counted.

6:01 P.M.

Phone rang—it was him!

He said, "You've seen the evening papers?"

"Online," I said, "I never read the papers." (Not relevant, but people say the oddest things when in shock.)

"Sorry you had to find out in such a brutal way. Wanted to tell you myself but some journalist—"

"What? So it's true?" I cried.

"I'm sorry, Lola, I didn't think you'd take us so seriously. We were just a bit of fun."

"Fun?" Fun?

"Yes, only a few months."

"Few?! Sixteen of them. Sixteen months, Paddy. That's a long time. Are you really marrying this woman?"


"Why? Do you love her?"

"Of course. Wouldn't be marrying her if I didn't."

"But I thought you loved me."

In a sad voice, he said, "Never made you any promises, Lola. But you are agreat, great girl. One in a million. Be good to yourself."

"Wait, don't go! I have to see you, Paddy, please, just for five minutes." (No dignity, but couldn't help myself. Was badly distraught.)

"Try not to think badly of me," he said. "I'll always think fondly of you and our time together. And remember . . ."

"Yes?" I gasped, desperate to hear something to take edge off the terrible, unbearable pain.

"Don't talk to the press."

6:05 P.M. to midnight

Rang everyone. Including him. Lost count of number of times, but many. Can be certain of that. Double, possibly triple figures.

Phone was also red-hot with incoming calls. Bridie, Treese, and Jem—genuine friends—offered much comfort even though they didn't like Paddy. (Never admitted it to me, but I knew.) Also many fake friends—rubberneckers!—ringing to gloat. General gist—"Is it true that Paddy de Courcy is getting married and not to you? Poor you. Is terrible. Is really, really terrible for you. Is so humiliating. Is so mortifying. Is so shaming! Is so—"

Kept my dignity. Said, "Thank you for kind wishes. Must go now."

Bridie came to see me in person. "You were never cut out to be a politician's wife," she said. "Your clothes are too cool and you have purple highlights."

"Molichino, please!" I cried. "Purple makes me sound like a . . . a teenager."

"He was too controlling," she said. "We never got to see you. Especially in the last few months."

"We were in love! You know what it's like to be in love."

Bridie had got married last year, but Bridie is unsentimental. "Love, yes, very nice, but no need to live in each other's pockets. You were always canceling on us."

"Paddy's time is precious! He's a busy man! I had to take what I could get!"

"Also," Bridie said, "you never read the papers, you know nothing of current affairs."

"I could have learned," I said. "I could have changed!"

Tuesday, August 26

Feel the whole country is looking at me, pointing and laughing. Had boasted to all friends and many clients about Paddy and now they know he is marrying someone else.

My equilibrium destroyed. On a photo shoot in the Wicklow Hills for Harvey Nichols Christmas catalog, I ironed oyster-colored silk bias-cut Chloe evening dress (you know the one I mean?) at too high a heat and burned it! Scorch mark in the shape of the iron on the crotch of iconic dress worth 2,035 euro (retail). Destroyed. Dress was intended to be the pivot of the shoot. Was lucky they didn't charge me (i.e., bill me, not have me arrested, but could be either, actually, now that I think about it).

Nkechi insisted on taking control—she is an excellent assistant, so excellent that everyone thinks she is my boss—because my hands were trembling, my concentration was in ribbons, and I kept having to go to portaloo to vomit.

And worse. Bowels like jelly. Will spare you the details.

8:30 A.M. to 12:34 A.M.

Bridie and Treese visited me at home and physically restrained me from driving round to Paddy's apartment and demanding audience with him.

3:00 A.M.

I woke up and thought, "Now, will go!" Then noticed Treese was in bed beside me. Worse, was awake and prepared to wrestle.

Wednesday, August 27, 11:05 A.M.

Constant loop in my head, He is marrying another woman, he is marrying another woman, he is marrying another woman. Then every few hours I think, What?! What do you mean, he is marrying another woman?! As if discovering it for the first time, and simply cannot believe it. Then am compelled to ring him, to try to change his mind, but he never picks up.

Then the loop starts again, then the surprise, then I have to ring him, then I get no answer—again and again and again.

Saw picture of this so-called Alicia Thornton. (At the newsstand buying a Crunchie when I saw it on the front page of the Independent.) Photographer had caught her coming out of her Ballsbridge offices. Hard to be certain but looked like she was wearing Louise Kennedy. Said it all. Safe. Elegant but safe.

Realized I recognized Alicia Thornton—she had been photographed four times with Paddy in glossy society pages over last few months. Caption had always read, "Paddy de Courcy and companion." When photo number three had appeared, I had felt emboldened enough to question him about her. He accused me of not trusting him and said she was a family friend. I believed him. But what family? He has no family!

This Charming Man
A Novel
. Copyright © by Marian Keyes. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 45 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a superb character study.

    The media and most of the female population of Dublin named Paddy de Courcy ¿Ireland's most eligible politician¿. Many females dream of being the one who caught the handsome hunk. However, when he announces his engagement, a horde of women go into mourning.------------------- Stylist to the rich and famous Lola Daly is especially stunned feeling betrayed as she had been seeing Paddy for over a year and had no inkling he was dating someone else more seriously. Reporter Grace Gildee is also a wee bit surprised as she remembers Paddy from college when he and her twin sister Marnie had an odd relationship that led to her sibling becoming emotionally fractured. Unable to resist and not trusting Paddy, Grace investigates only to learn the truth about the soulless rogue. She decides it is time for a reckoning with the help of Marnie and Lola.-------------- This is a great charmer that balances darkness with hope. The three women are solid characters teaming up on a mission of vengeance while their antagonist is a fabulous shallow hunk who uses people like a soul draining vampire. Using dark humor at the perfect moments, Marian Keyes provides a strong look at the causal effect of alcohol and drug abuse, depression and suicidal tendencies, and violent relationships leading to individual destruction. THIS CHARMING MAN is a superb character study.------------- Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 24, 2012

    Couldn't put it down

    CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!!- I am a huge fan of Marian Keyes. Rachel's Holiday and Anybody Out There? are my favorites. I really really liked This Charming Man, but gave it only 4 stars for one reason: The decisions Grace makes with respect to Paddy are not believable. Grace knew what Paddy did to Marnie and yet was still drawn to him?? I have a sister and I can tell you if my sister was hurt in that way I would never go near 5 feet of her abuser. Other than that I loved the book. I didn't find Lola's sections difficult to read. They were hysterical. Thanks Marian for a wonderfully entertaining book that made us laugh and cry all in one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    GOOD ONE!!

    The charming man is Paddy de Courcy, a smooth-talker for sure. This book is told from four women's point of view. There was a great ending in which everyone got their just desserts. Love these kind!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A good read with depth

    Although it is a work of fiction, the author weaves deep topics, such as alcoholism and abuse, into the story line. At the beginning, I was put off by the short, choppy journaling of Lola, and was relieved to see that the author didn't use that method when telling the other characters' stories. Paddy was a piece of work (and all of us know someone like him that has influenced either us directly or someone close to us) and it was great to see him get his just reward! There was a twist to the story at the end that I didn't see coming. Nice job, Marian. This is my first book by this author and I will look forward to reading more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Marian Keyes' books never disappoint!!

    This Charming Man is a wonderful book--I absolutly loved it!! Marian Keyes is a wonderful writer--I love all of her books. I recommend this book to everyone!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    I have really enjoyed all of Marian Keyes' books, so I was a little surprised to not dig this one very much. The premise of the book was promising and there were some truly good moments. However, I found it hard to care about any of the characters and I was particularly disappointed that Alecia's viewpoint was reduced to about 4 total pages of the entire book. Maybe because the topics (alcholism and domestic violence) were so sensitive, I found it hard to find the whimsical, comedic tone I've come to appreciate with Keyes' previous work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2008

    Four Women . . . One man

    Do you really need anything else? Four women connected to one CHARMING MAN? Didn't think so. The man is Paddy de Courcy, considered by many to be the JFK of Dublin--smooth-talker with big ideas and lots of charm. The book is told from the point of view of each of the four women, which made it interesting for me. Also, there was a great ending in which everyone got their just desserts. That too made me happy. Not much more I can say other than 'buy it!'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2012

    I think I'm missing something...

    I can't seem to get into this novel. I've read all of her books and have loved her for years. Am I missing something? I'm pushing through...

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  • Posted July 20, 2011


    I have read several of Keyes books and I loved them all, this book on the other hand was BAD! The first part of the book honestly ruined it all for me, I have no clue why Keyes would choose to have the first half of the book be from the view of an idiot! I understand writing in the mind of the character you want to portray but a bad idea to have an idiot/fragment sentance filled fist half of a book! I got so frustrated with the fragment sentances and stupidity that I actually threw my nook out of rage. Maybe there should have been some revision and maybe had that part in the middle of the book so people actually knew what's going on! Clearly I have learned my lesson and will from here on out read a bit of Keyes books prior to purchase. I only wish I could get my money back so I could buy a book worth reading!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2011



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  • Posted June 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Captivating with True Life Dilemas!

    Marian Keys has a knack for writing. In her books, she brings about real life struggles that people go through, adding touch of reality to her novels. "This Charming Man" centers around domestic abuse, depression, true love, alcoholism, and trust. Its tells the story of 3 woman, all who have been with one charming man 'Paddy deCorsy' and how their lives were deeply impacted by him. Now, although I was a bit disappointed in the end (because it didn't tell us what happened next) I was pleased reading it. Its a hit, and one that should not be missed!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2010


    I picked this up off of the new paperback table at my local B&N, I was between this and a couple others, I wish I had chosen the others. I found the main characters odd--I liked the journalist, but the stylist's voice (incomplete sentences) made it difficult for me to read. I was more interested in some of the later characters introduced and wish they had been woven into the story earlier. I did cry at certain points, but it was a cheap tear, not the kind that sticks with you. I could see this being a good beach/ summer house book. But I wouldn't put this at the top of your stack.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Good read

    This was a great book esp for a rainy day. I have read many books by this author & have loved them all. I was a little confused w/ the Lola character at one point in regard to the cross dressing crew. I didn't understand who was who & what gender some of the characters were. Other then that, it was a really good read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2010

    Not my favorite Marian Keyes

    I'm a huge Marian Keyes fan...but this book just didn't do it for me. It was trying to be funny, then very serious, then back to funny. I don't think it worked. I almost didn't finish it, but stuck with it and it did get a little better at the end.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2009

    A Few Loose Ends, but still an Enjoyable Read

    I have always enjoyed Marian Keyes' novels, and this one was no exception. Keyes has a knack for writing about some heavy and dark relationship issues while still managing to interject a lot of humor. I have only a couple of complaints--yes, like others who have commented on this novel, Marnie's struggle with alcoholism does get a bit bogged down. However, I think it was meant to be that way. Just as in real life, when someone has a chronic problem, those closest to the person care, and care, and care, until eventually they pull away out of exasperation. There is a limit to how much one is willing to put up with, and the reader is put through that emotion right along with Grace.
    The bigger issue I had trouble with was in the second and final confrontation with Paddy de Courcy. Getting him to make an apology to each of the women -- and, if you ask me, not much of an apology ("I'm sorry IF I hurt you???) was presented as if it was some big triumph on the women's part. It would have been much better if he had been arrested and publicly humiliated. The other item I took issue with was Grace and the others wanting to go off and celebrate by drinking. It didn't ring true to me that Grace would want to do this and have her sister come along after all she had been through trying to get Marnie off liquor. Alicia's character was also too minmal. I would have liked to see her personality fleshed out much more. However, those three issues aside, this was an enjoyable read. It's nice, too, to read a story once in a while that has a happy or hopeful ending.

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  • Posted October 14, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Not very charming...

    I really enjoyed reading the different viewpoints from some of Mr. Charming's women. Lola's "voice" became annoying at times, but I thought her story was the most compelling. And the little snippits between chapters, giving us a glimpse of his actions, was a great idea! I totally understood how these otherwise smart women could get sucked into an abusive relationship.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2008

    Pretty Good

    Marian is such a good story teller, it's hard to diss her books. And while I recommend this one, I do so with the caveat that it's not quite as good as her others. Marnie's story, particularly, became tedious. Marian does a fabulous job of getting her point across about what it's like to be an addict, as she so deftly showed us in 'Rachel's Holiday', -- the denials, the exuses, the sacrificing of all things good in one's life for love of alcohol and/or drugs. She makes the reader understand, but she seems to have a hard time knowing when to stop. I found myself thinking, 'O.K., I get it. You can stop now.' Also, the way she wrote Lola's story 'that incomplete, choppy style' was difficult to to read, but Lola's story was so good, I was able to eventually get the rhythm. In the end, and in typcial Marian fashion, she has tackled very heavy subjects, alcoholism and marital abuse, with wit and sensitivity. Not to mention the hopeful, if not downright happy, endings.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2008

    I was a little surprised, but I loved it.

    I've read all of her books and this one surprised me a bit. It started off in Lola's voice (I, for one, like the diary short hand!) Very funny. Grace is a cool, likable character. But the tone quickly turns darker and serious when we see hints of horrible abuse taking place and Marnie's story is heartbreaking. (The story gets a bit bogged down with her). Still, Marian is able to keep it real and keep it funny. I think it's a great book that hits a lot of nerves. I finished it last night and I've been thinking about it all day. I recommend!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2008

    A Good Read

    As usual, Marian Keyes newest novel, This Charming Man, kept my interest and I recommend it. Although the book claims to be about 4 women affected by one man, Paddy de Courcy, Alicia remains a mystery to the end. I never considered Paddy as charming, either. A number of reviewers have commented negatively on Lola's voice, as the writing is in diary short-hand. However, in the first chapter, her voice rings true and she is very, very funny. Later on in the book, her short-hand style began to get on my nerves, as all the characters sound like her. Keyes deals with some tough subjects in this book--domestic abuse and alcoholism. She does an exceptional job with these subjects. I really did like this novel, but it was unevenly edited. The beginning and the end were top-notch, the middle needed work. While I would have appreciated more humor in the heart of the book, Keyes does a great job of keeping the reader mystified over several key plots. Keyes has a keen understanding of human behavior that comes out in her books and which make her an internationally best-selling author. She falls slightly short on two key characters in this book, but the other characters--Lola, Grace and Marnie--are all fleshed out very well and I came to care deeply about them. By the author of the award winning book, Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify and Energize Your Life, Your Home and Your Planet.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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