Monday, 9 September 2013

Marie Flanigan

One Big Beautiful Thing


They say never judge a book by its cover, well people do, and with this book I'd walk on by. It's dull with a capital D. A pot of paintbrushes on a dirty blue background. Very unappealing.

It doesn't really say anything about the book, either. Maybe the main character is an artist? Even so, I wouldn't care. As for the genre, I couldn't say. It could be a thriller, crime, romance... anything but a horror or an erotic read. Two things I got from it (other than boring) was gentle or religious.

The title and the author's name are far to too small. Insignificant was the word that came to mind. The title didn't excite me and the author's name was almost an apology (after reading the book I get that the author was trying to make the cover look like a hanging painting. But it still needs more work). It's a book that wouldn't get noticed in the sea of other books on Amazon, and you what, now I've read it, that's a huge shame.

Within the first paragraph in the 'look inside' sample I'm reassured that it's not heavy on religion (the main character 'couldn't remember the last time she'd gone to church') and I'm relieved. The writing style is chatty and contemporary. It's also fast and in typical 'chick lit' style, and I find I have read the sample in no time at all. 

The protagonist is called Kate (Mary Katherine to her mum) and she has come home to grieve after the death of her boyfriend, Robert. And while her mother is away nursing her sick grandmother Kate has volunteered to step into her mum's shoes at the catholic school where she teaches art.

The relationship between Kate and her mother (Anne) is very volatile and at first I thought she gave her mother a hard time but as the story progressed I realised why they had this love/hate relationship. It was fed to me very expertly and gently until there was some genuine heart-felt moments between the two.

Kate meets Aiden and feels an instant connection. He's has a few problems of his own in the name of an ex with mental health issues, and feels he needs to 'protect Kate' from her wrath by keeping their relationship light and away from common knowledge. At first, Kate is happy with this because she's feeling guilty about moving on after Robert's death and wants to keep Aiden casual anyway.

Kate is an artist, a very good one, and Marie Flanigan was very confident in getting that across. She had either research it very well or is an artist herself.

I loved this book, and felt the story was well told. It had a few laugh-out loud moments, but over all the book was heart-rendering. I especially cried a few tears when Kate ran away to her boyfriend's grave and subsequently went to find his grieving mother, where, it was discovered, never approved of her relationship with her son. Very nicely done.

The book ended not with a complete happy-ever-after but with an ending where you suspect things would turn out well for all concerned and I liked that. Kate, her mother and Aiden all had issues and it would have been too unrealistic to have a warm, cheesy ending with all of them hugging and ending happily.

A great début novel, which I'd be happy to recommend. It had no real significant editing issues either. A double whammy!


In this touching début novel, artist Kate Abernethy is trying to put her life back together after the death of her boyfriend. At first, moving back in with her mother seems like a good way to sort out her finances and re-evaluate her life—instead it proves to be a minefield of doubt and recrimination. Floundering, she pushes herself to take new opportunities so she can rebuild her life and have a second chance at happiness.