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Last Chance Saloon

Last Chance Saloon

4.4 70
by Marian Keyes

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Ever since legwarmers were cool, best friends Tara, Katherine, and Fintan have survived small-town ennui, big-city heartbreak, and endless giddy nights out on the town. But now that they've graduated to their slightly more serious thirties, only Fintan has what can honestly be called a "love life." With Tara struggling daily with her eternal diet—and her


Ever since legwarmers were cool, best friends Tara, Katherine, and Fintan have survived small-town ennui, big-city heartbreak, and endless giddy nights out on the town. But now that they've graduated to their slightly more serious thirties, only Fintan has what can honestly be called a "love life." With Tara struggling daily with her eternal diet—and her dreadful, penny-pinching boyfriend—and Katherine keeping her single existence as organized as her drawer full of matching bra and panty sets, it seems they'll never locate the exit door out of the "last chance saloon."

But it's always when you are least ready for change that fate insists on one. And when catastrophe inevitably follows crisis, the lives of three best friends are sure to change in unexpected ways ... and not necessarily for the worse.

You devoured the hilarious antics of Claire in Watermelon.
You laughed 'til you cried in Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married.
You took a vacation gone mad in Rachel's Holiday.
You flew away with Margaret—good girl gone bad—in Angels.
You got a peek inside the cutthroat world of women's fashion magazines in Sushi for Beginners.

Now, raise your glass to Tara, Katherine, and Fintan in Last Chance Saloon.

Editorial Reviews

Redbook Magazine
“Side-splitting . . . exciting until the very last page.”
Anyone who has ever felt that they were in the "last chance saloon," a place where unmarried women in their 30s reside, will appreciate this hilarious new novel by the bestselling author of Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married. Once again, Marian Keyes hits the nail on the head with her realistic characters and sometimes painful, sometimes laugh-out-loud situations. In tragedy and triumph, three friends discover what they each need to make themselves happy and to depart the Last Chance Saloon.
Publishers Weekly
Imagine Bridget Jones in a Jacobean revenge drama, a sort of 'Tis a Pity She's Single that's the flavor of this entry in the urban unmarried female angst sweepstakes. This time, the protagonists are two London women who grew up together in the small, repressive Irish town of Knockavoy. Tara, a computer analyst, lives with Thomas, a bitter and miserly high school geography teacher. Afraid to live on her own, she is willing to overlook the fact that Thomas ignores her birthday, constantly monitors her eating habits and insults her friends under the guise of being "honest." Katherine Casey, an accountant for an advertising agency, wears boring suits, has a hyperorganized underwear drawer and brushes off all advances, including those of attractive advertising account executive Joe Roth. As they turn 31, each woman is full of suggestions for improving the other's life and full of excuses for doing nothing about her own. That begins to change when Fintan O'Grady, their gay pal and fellow Knockavoy refugee, falls ill with a mysterious disease. As their paths are crisscrossed by a self-centered Irish actor named Lorcan Larkin, Fintan emotionally blackmails Tara and Katherine into making long-needed changes. Keyes (Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married) effectively describes the young women's searches for autonomy and love, but her flippant, arch tone is less effective when recounting the more grim stories of Fintan and Lorcan. In addition, some of the repartee, perhaps fresh when the book was originally published in Great Britain in 2001, already seems shopworn. The Knockavoy refugees are a sympathetic trio, however, and their deftly plotted saga is likely to appeal to fellow singletons. (Aug.)Forecast: Readers will have to be nearly as desperate as the heroines of Keyes's relationship drama to find satisfaction here but there's no underestimating the appeal of even halfway decent girl-talk books. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Dublin resident Keyes, author of the popular Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married and other novels, treats her audience to another fun read. Years ago, three friends from a small Irish town started new lives in London. Now in their early thirties and feeling as if they are in the "Last Chance Saloon" of relationships, they are finally growing up. Accountant Katherine is still recovering from a long-ago broken heart and has completely sworn off men. Tara constantly struggles with her weight and lives with a man who treats her horribly. Their best male friend, Fintan, seems to be having the best luck: not only is he in a happy relationship with a man but he also has a great job as a fashion designer. When a serious illness afflicts Fintan, the three friends are forced to re-examine their lives thus far and make some big changes. Keyes draws readers in from the beginning, and a sassy closing twist clenches the story. Readers of her previous novels will agree that Keyes's prose is nicely progressing. Her best book yet, this is highly recommended for public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/01; the film rights to Keyes's third novel, Rachel's Holiday, were recently bought by Touchstone Pictures. Ed.] Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In the Bridget Jones tradition, young singles in London conquer self-esteem problems before finding true love: a witty if predictable fourth novel from Keyes (Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, 1999 etc.). Katherine, Tara, and Fintan moved to London together from their small Irish hometown and have remained best friends into their early '30s, even though they seem to have little in common. Overly self-controlled Katherine comes across as an Ice Queen. In fact, that's her less-than-flattering nickname at the advertising firm where she is an accountant. When a fellow worker gently flirts with her, Katherine is so afraid of her own feelings that she accuses him of sexual harassment. Tara is Katherine's opposite: desperate for affection, she clings to her boyfriend Thomas despite his consistently rude and unpleasant behavior. Softhearted Tara also eats compulsively. (Keyes perfectly captures the overweight overeater's mindset.) Only Fintan, who is gay and in the fashion industry, natch, has found happiness and true love with Sandro, "the Italian Pony" (he's too small to be a stallion). Then Fintan becomes seriously ill. It's not AIDS, but with a cancer that requires intensive chemotherapy. Fintan's mother and brothers arrive from Ireland and stay in Katherine's apartment, disrupting her perfect order, while Thomas refuses even to accompany Tara to the hospital. Possibly near death's door, Fintan exacts promises from his friends to bring some happiness into their lives. He wants Tara to dump the awful Thomas and Katherine to take a chance with her office suitor, the charming and genuinely nice Joe Roth. Meanwhile, their very sophisticated Swedish friend Liv falls madly in love withFintan's very unsophisticated older brother Milo, a farmer who has never seen an escalator until now. Will Tara leave Thomas and get back to a size eight? Will Katherine cheat herself out of her big chance for romantic happiness? Will Fintan recover? Will Milo move back to the farm? No surprises, but a pleasant read. Author tour

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Harper Perennial
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Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

At the chrome-and-glass Camden restaurant the skinny hostess ran her purple nail down the book and muttered, "Casey, Casey, where've you got to? Here we are, table twelve. You're the --"

"First to arrive?" Katherine finished for her. She couldn't hide her disappointment because she'd forced herself, every fiber in her body resisting, to be five minutes late.

"Are you a Virgo?" Purple Nails swore by astrology.

At Katherine's nod, she went on, "It's your destiny to be pathologically punctual. Go with it."

A waiter called Darius, with dreadlocks in a Hepburnesque topknot, pointed Katherine in the direction of her table, where she crossed her legs and shook her layered bob back off her face, hoping this made her look poised and unconcerned. Then she pretended to study the menu, wished she smoked, and swore blind that the next time she'd try to be ten minutes late.

Maybe, as Tara regularly suggested, she should start going to Anal-Retentives Anonymous.

Seconds later Tara arrived, uncharacteristically on time, clattering across the bleached beech floor, her wheat-colored hair flying. She wore an asymmetrical dress that glowed with newness, sang money, and -- unfortunately -- bulged slightly. Her shoes looked great, though. "Sorry I'm not late," she apologized. "I know you like to have the moral high ground, but the roads and the traffic conspired against me."

"It can't be helped," Katherine said gravely "Just don't make a habit of it. Happy birthday."

"What's happy aboutit?" Tara asked ruefully. "How happy were you on your thirty-first birthday?"

"I booked ten sessions of nonsurgical face-lifting," Katherine admitted. "But don't worry, you don't look a day over thirty. Well, maybe a day..."

Darius bounced across to take Katherine's drink order. But when he saw Tara a look of alarm flickered across his face. Not her again, he thought, stoically preparing for it to be a late one.

"Veen-ho?" Tara asked Katherine. "Or the hard stuff?"

"Gin and tonic."

"Make it two. Right." Tara rubbed her hands together with glee. "Where's my coloring book and crayons?"

Tara and Katherine had been best friends since the age of four, and Tara had a healthy respect for tradition.

Katherine slid a colorful parcel across the table and Tara tore the paper off. "Aveda things!" she exclaimed, delighted.

"Aveda products are the thirty-something woman's coloring book and crayons," Katherine pointed out.

"Sometimes, though," Tara said pensively, "I kind of miss the coloring book and crayons."

"Don't worry," Katherine assured her. "My mother still buys them for you for every birthday."

Tara looked up in hope.

"In another dimension," Katherine said quickly

"You look fantastic." Tara lit a cigarette and wistfully checked out Katherine's claret Karen Millen trouser suit.

"So do you. I love your dress."

"My birthday present to myself. D'you know something?" Tara's face darkened. "I hate shops that use those slanty forward mirrors so you think the dress makes you look slender and willowy. Like a poor fool I always reckon it's because of the great cut, so it's worth spending the debt of a small South American country on." She paused to take a monumental drag from her cigarette. "Next thing you know, you're at home with a mirror that isn't slanty forward and you look like a pig in a frock."

"You don't look like a pig."

"I do. And they wouldn't give me a refund unless it had something wrong with it. I said it had plenty wrong with it, it made me look like a pig in a frock. They said that didn't count. It needed something like a broken zipper. But I might as well wear it seeing as I went up to my Visa limit to buy it."

"But you were already up to your Visa limit."

"No, no," Tara explained earnestly "I was only up to my official limit."

"Okay," Katherine said faintly.

Tara picked up the menu. "Oh, look," she said in anguish. "It's all so delicious here. Please, God, give me the strength not to order a starter. Although I'm so hungry I could eat a child's arse through the bars of a cot!"

"How's the no-forbidden-foods diet going?" Katherine asked, although she could have guessed the answer.

"Gone," exhaled Tara, looking ashamed.

"No harm done," Katherine consoled.

"Exactly." Tara was relieved. "What harm indeed. Thomas was raging, as you can imagine. But really! Imagine a diet that tells a glutton like me that nothing is forbidden. It's a recipe for disaster."

Katherine made murmury soothing noises, as she had every time over the past fifteen years when Tara had fallen off the food wagon. Katherine could eat exactly what she liked, precisely because she didn't want to. From her glossy exterior she looked like the kind of woman who never had struggles with anything. The cool gray eyes that looked out from underneath her smooth dark bangs were assured and appraising. She knew this. She practiced a lot when she was on her own.

Next to arrive was Fintan, whose progress across the restaurant floor was observed by the staff and most of the clientele. Tall, big, and handsome, he wore a bright purple suit with buttonholes punched all over both sleeves, through which his lime-green shirt winked and twinkled. A plane could have landed on his lapels. Discreet murmuring of "Who's he...?" "He must be an actor...?" "Or a model...?" rustled like autumn leaves, and the feel-good factor among the Friday-night diners experienced a marked surge. Truly, everyone thought, this is one stylish man. He spotted Tara and Katherine, who'd been watching him with indulgent amusement, and gave a huge smile. It was as if all the lights had been turned up.

"Gorgeous." Katherine nodded at his suit.

When Fintan had...

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

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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Last Chance Saloon 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
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Amanda Serpo More than 1 year ago
this was the first book i read by Marian Keyes and i fell in love with her writing. this is my favirite of hers so far
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ajreinecke More than 1 year ago
I picked this for our book club and I wasn't too thrilled with it. It was pretty predictable so there wasn't alot of discussion to be had after we were done reading it. If you have nothing better to read then it's an okay book, but I wouldn't put it on your list of "must reads".
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