The Weekend Break by Ruth O’Leary

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | General Fiction | Women’s Fiction
Weekend Break

By Ita Roche

The Weekend Break is a debut novel by Ruth O’Leary and what a note to kick off her writing career on. I am not one bit surprised it went straight into the bestselling charts.

Putting four mature friends together for a weekend in Galway automatically creates time for deeper connections and conversations within the group. However, it also leaves nowhere to hide, and they are all hiding aspects of their lives that they don’t expect to erupt when boarding a train at Heuston Station.

I was drawn into the lives of Vivienne, Helen, Clara and Miriam instantly and short chapters moves the plot on at a great pace and I found myself saying, ‘just one more chapter’ to the point of devouring the book in two sittings. Not something I normally do but I just had to know how it was going to pan out. It didn’t disappoint – quite the contrary.

Having met on a HR course their friendship developed over time, but time together away from the stresses of life was the one thing that was limiting them developing their connection on a deeper level. Thus, two weeks before Christmas they head for the beautiful city of Galway, each with the hope that the trip might just be what they need to instigate change in their lives. And change comes, in multiple and unexpected ways.

I love how O’Leary deals with real life issues within the story. It showcases very relatable characters dealing with everyday circumstances. Vivienne’s picture-perfect life is a total façade, and she’s not the only one who wants out, but sometimes the very thing that needs to change is the one thing we struggle to let go of, choosing instead to bury our heads in the sand and the rat-race of living, surviving – hoping nobody really notices the mess we know we are.

Helen’s nightly glass of wine quickly becomes a bottle or two that leads to her behaving in ways she must later apologize for. Clara lies to her husband in the hope of carving some time to save her sanity, while Miriam’s hiding a lifechanging secret she feel she can never reveal. It’s emotive, engaging, and relatable. And that’s what makes it a compelling read.

As a crime/thriller reader this was outside my genre, but with lies, alcohol addiction, affairs and dramatic life changes thrown into the mix, it grabbed me, held me and I torridly enjoyed it. Secrets slowly exposed and characters that lure you into their trials, pain, and dilemmas, what more could one ask for. And, I might add, it’s the first time I ever shouted aloud at a character in a book. I still smile upon reflection of the scene that instigated that response now clearly stamped in my temporal lobe.

Note, what came out of my mouth is not publishable here, or anywhere else. But I stand by my reaction and cannot wait to chat to others who have read it to see how they responded to that particular instance. Further note, when you want to talk about a book – it’s a damn good one.  A perfect book-club read with moral dilemmas and naked truths guaranteed to get readers talking.

Clearly meticulously planned and every detail of Galway city thought through torridly, one feels they are right there with the women. It is a light and easy read from Ruth without diminishing the seriousness of the issues addressed. It’s friendship at its best, with love lies and Galway thrown into the mix on an explosive weekend that redefines everything.

Weekend BreakAs the weekend unfolds and their secrets are laid bare, will it be too much for some to cope with?

Fans of Marian Keyes, or Carmel Harrington will love this.

I was more than happy to allow O’Leary to steal moments from my life to read her debut and look forward to more from this author.

(c) Ita Roche

The Weekend Break is published by Poolbeg Press. Order your copy online here.

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