Watermelon

Watermelon

4.2 89
by Marian Keyes
     
 

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At twenty-nine, fun-loving, good-natured Claire has everything she ever wanted: a husband she adores, a great apartment, a good job. Then, on the day she gives birth to her first baby, James visits her in the recovery room to inform her that he's leaving her. Claire is left with a beautiful newborn daughter, a broken heart, and a body that she can hardly bear to look… See more details below

Overview

At twenty-nine, fun-loving, good-natured Claire has everything she ever wanted: a husband she adores, a great apartment, a good job. Then, on the day she gives birth to her first baby, James visits her in the recovery room to inform her that he's leaving her. Claire is left with a beautiful newborn daughter, a broken heart, and a body that she can hardly bear to look at in the mirror. So, in the absence of any better offers, Claire decides to go home to her family in Dublin. To her gorgeous man-eating sister Helen, her soap-watching mother, her bewildered father. And there, sheltered by the love of an (albeit quirky) family, she gets better. A lot better. In fact, so much better that when James slithers back into her life, he's in for a bit of a surprise.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
An eccentric romantic comedy...full of wicked humor.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Claire Webster, heroine of this breezy Irish bestseller, thinks hubby James is the man of her dreams until he ditches her for an older woman (Claire herself is 29) two hours after their daughter is born. Mother and child repair to Dublin, where there's hope of solace and sustenance in the bosom of an eccentric family, while Claire downsizes from watermelon to wisp and struggles over the hurdles of blues and booze. When she attracts a handsome young lover and considers dumping the suddenly repentant James, it's clear a happy ending's in sight. Or is it? There are a few surprises and plenty of sassy girl talk in this slick if sometimes silly take on what it's like to be female. Much of the hilarity generated by Claire's funky family airhead sisters who squabble over clothes and men, a mother who'd rather watch soap operas than cook, a father perpetually bewildered by the women in his life wears thin, but readers will identify with Claire's flaws, applaud her irreverent wit and rejoice at her triumphant recovery. Like the fruit it's named for, this overlong novel is short on nutrition but long on refreshment.
Library Journal
Claire Webster's got it all - a perfect marriage to a handsome husband who provides well and now a darling baby girl - until the morning after she gives birth, when her husband, James, informs her that he's having an affair with their downstairs neighbor and deserts her and his child. Claire flies back to Dublin and the dubious security of her wacky family to sort out her life. A too-handsome hunk of younger man named Adam - whose motives in pursuing her must be suspect, mustn't they? - enlivens this story of survival in the face of crushing blows to one's self-esteem. Hilarious interior monolog, with Claire's refereeing the warring segments of her obstreperous psyche, puts this first novel on the Gen-X "must-read" list. It will appeal to mainstream, women's fiction, and romance fans, too. Highly recommended. Jo Manning, Univ. of Miami Lib., Coral Gables, FL
Kirkus Reviews
A grand first novel by Irish writer Keyes is a hilarious treatise on love's roller coaster. Both elated and exhausted after giving birth to a daughter, the 29-year-old Claire is shocked senseless when her husband James comes to the London hospital not to celebrate, but instead to break the news that he's leaving her for their dowdy downstairs neighbor. The stunned Claire, with new baby in tow, and feeling as big as a summer melon, hightails it back to her family in Dublin to sort out her life. Wandering around her childhood home in her mother's old nightgowns, a vodka bottle in one hand and the bawling Kate in the other, Claire tries to banish images of the frolicking James and his "other woman." Her two younger sisters prove to be a comfort, sweet Anna, a hippie drug-dealer, loans Claire money for booze, and haughty Helen deigns to buy it for her. And drunken anguish does have its rewards, for in no time Claire sheds her extra weight, thanks to a steady liquid diet and nights spent on the family rowing machine fantasizing James's ruin. But it is only when Gorgeous Adam appears on the scene that Claire begins to recover a sense of purpose. A college friend of Helen's, Adam exemplifies perfect manhood—and helpfully takes a liking to her, too. But just as things begin crackling between them, James shows up, oh-so- generously ready to forgive Claire for driving him into the arms of the other woman. Torn between the comforts of her former life in London and a new, heartening sense of self-worth and self-sufficiency, not to mention the Gorgeous Adam, Claire finds herself hard put to make a decision. A candid, irresistibly funny debut and perfect summertime read.

From the Publisher
“A candid, irresistibly funny debut and perfect summertime read.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Marian Keyes has a talent for writing about ordinary things happening to ordinary people. But in Watermelon, the skill with which she weaves this tangled web is extraordinary.”
Star

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780749324797
Publisher:
Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/01/1997
Pages:
613

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I'm sorry, you must think I'm very rude. We've hardly even been introduced and here I am telling you all about the awful things that have happened to me.

Let me just give you the briefest outline of myself and I'll save details like, for example, my first day at school until later, if we have the time.

Let's see, what should I tell you? Well, my name is Claire and I'm twenty-nine and, as I mentioned, I've just had my first child two days ago (a little girl, seven pounds, four ounces, totally beautiful) and my husband (did I mention his name is James?) told me about twenty-four hours ago that he has been having an affair for the past six months, with -- and get this -- not even his secretary or someone glamorous from work, but with a married woman who lives in the apartment two floors below us. I mean, how suburban can you get! And not only is he having an affair but he wants a divorce.

I'm sorry if I'm being unnecessarily flippant about this. I'm all over the place. In a moment I'll be crying again. I'm still in shock, I suppose. Her name is Denise and I know her quite well.

Not quite as well as James does, obviously.

The awful thing is she always seemed to be really nice.

She's thirty-five (don't ask me how I know this, I just do; and at the risk of sounding very sour grapes and losing your sympathy, she does look thirty-five) and she has two children and a nice husband (quite apart from my one, that is). And apparently she's moved out of her apartment and he's moved out of his (or ours, should I say) and they've both moved into a new one in a secret location.

Can you believe it? How dramatic can you get?I know her husband is Italian, but I really don't think he's likely to kill the pair of them. He's a waiter, not a Mafia stooge, so what's he going to do? Black pepper them to death? Compliment them into a coma? Run them over with the dessert trolley?

But again, I seem flippant.

I'm not.

I'm heartbroken.

And it's all such a disaster. I don't even know what to call my little girl. James and I had discussed some names -- or, in retrospect, I had discussed them and he had pretended to listen -- but we hadn't decided on anything definite. And I seem to have lost the ability to make decisions on my own. Pathetic, I know, but that's marriage for you. Bang goes your sense of personal autonomy!

I wasn't always like this. Once I was strong-willed and independent. But that all seems like a long, long time ago.

I've been with James for five years, and we've been married for three years. And, my God, but I love that man.

Although we had a less than auspicious start, the magic took hold of us very quickly. We both agree that we fell in love about fifteen minutes after we met and we stayed that way.

Or at least I did.

For a long time I never thought I'd meet a man who wanted to marry me.

Well, perhaps I should qualify that.

I never thought I'd meet a nice man who wanted to marry me. Plenty of lunatics, undoubtedly. But a nice man, a bit older than me, with a decent job, good-looking, funny, kind. You know-one who didn't look at me askance when I mentioned The Partridge Family, not one who apologized for not being able to get me a birthday present because his estranged wife had taken all his salary under a court maintenance order, not one who made me feel old-fashioned and inhibited because I got angry when he said that he'd screwed his ex-girlfriend the night after he screwed me ("My God, you convent girls are so uptight"), not one who made me feel inadequate because I couldn't tell the difference between Piat d'Or and Zinfandel (whatever that is!).

James didn't treat me in any of these unpleasant ways. It seemed almost too good to be true. He liked me. He liked almost everything about me.

When we first met we were both living in London. I was waitress (more of that later) and he was an accountant.

Of all the Tex-Mex joints in all the towns in all the world, he had to walk into mine. I wasn't a real waitress, you understand, I had a degree in English, but I went through my rebellious stage rather later than most, at about twenty-three. Which is when I thought it might be a bit of a laugh to give up my permanent, wellish-paid job in Dublin and go off to the Godless city of London and live like an irresponsible student.

Which is something I should have done when I was an irresponsible student. But I was too busy getting work experience during my summer holidays then, so my irresponsibility just had to wait until I was good and ready for it.

Like I always say, there's a time and a place for spontaneity.

Anyway, I had managed to land myself a job as a waitress in this highly trendy London restaurant, all loud music and video screens and minor celebrities.

Well, to be honest, there were more minor celebrities on the staff then amongst the clientele, what with most of the staff being out-of-work actors and models and the like.

How I ever got a job there at all is beyond me. Although I might have been employed as the token Wholesome Waitress. To begin with I was...

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

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