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by Marian Keyes
Harper Perennial, 1996
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Oct 17th 2002

Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married

Lucy Sullivan, living in London in her early twenties, is looking for romance.  She is attracted to penniless artists and musicians, and seems blinds to their faults, at least at first.  So when she meets Gus, an Irishman with “longish black curly hair and bright green, slightly bloodshot eyes” with the gift of the gab who never goes for a whole day without alcohol or drugs, she falls for him quickly, despite his inconsiderate behavior towards her and his constant scrounging off her money.  Soon the explanation for Lucy’s self-destructive choices becomes clear, as we learn about her tendency towards depression, her parents’ difficult marriage, and most tellingly, her father’s fondness for drink.  As in her more recent novel, Rachel’s Holiday, author Marian Keyes is very tuned in to the psychological dimensions of her characters and their problems.  Not only do we see into the lies and deceits that Lucy tells to herself and her friends, but we also see the dynamics within hr family and the problems of her friends.  Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married is a well-observed portrait of a child of an alcoholic in the form of a romantic comedy. 

Unfortunately the book is far too long, and Keyes’ descriptions of the minute details of Lucy’s encounters with other people and her thought processes dilute the charm of the story.  I have to confess that after 200 pages of this 600-page novel, I gave up and browsed the rather predictable unfolding of the plot of the rest of the book.  The chapters are short, which means they go past quite quickly, giving the impression of a fast pace, until one realizes that it is taking six chapters to describe the events of one evening.  Maybe readers who need to kill time, lying on beaches or on long journeys maybe, will savor the slow unfolding of the plot, but I found it in need of severe editing; the story could be told just as well in half the length. 


© 2002 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help foster communication between philosophers, mental health professionals, and the general public.