The Woman Who Stole My Life

Viking. Jul. 2015. 464p. ISBN 9780525429258. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698197657. F
In this dual narrative that straddles one woman's tale of before and after, Keyes (The Mystery of Mercy Close; This Charming Man) sets forth the story of Stella Sweeney, an average wife and mother who unexpectedly makes good after her recovery from a paralyzing illness. At the beginning of the novel, Stella's trying mightily to get her life back on track, and alternating chapters peel away the layers of backstory, from despair and resignation to fame and fortune and back again. Not only is her beautician career in tatters, but her family is falling apart, too. The book-within-a-book format that dribbles out details initially makes it hard for readers to get their bearings, and the action, once it gets going, comes to a rather sudden, if neatly wrapped, ending. However, the part of the tale in which Stella's love story is at its zenith delivers an emotionally satisfying romance.
VERDICT A deeply charming work, despite its unevenness, this one is recommended for Keyes fans and readers who enjoy rags-to-riches stories; book groups will find a lot to discuss. [See Prepub Alert, 1/25/15.]

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