Marian Keyes Announces Sequel to Rachel’s Holiday

“I wondered how Rachel from Rachel’s Holiday was getting on. I’ve started a sequel and I’m a good way into it” said Marian Keyes, to the delight of her fans and her event chair Jenny Colgan at Edinburgh International Book Festival Online this evening.

Teasing the audience as Colgan asked if she’d been able to work during lockdown, Keyes said, “I have got some work done in lockdown… I could tell you about it if you like” before announcing the follow up Again, Rachel would likely be released February 2022. “It’s 22 years since Rachel was written about and so a good deal has changed. It isn’t in many ways like a sequel, it does feel like a different novel. Many of the same characters are in it.”

While the world waits for this much anticipated novel, Keyes responds to the overwhelmingly positive feedback her latest novel Grown Ups has received. “I was always called a guilty pleasure and it’s so nice to not be something people are ashamed of.  Grown Ups is about seven main characters and four of men and that’s the first time I’ve written men in that way” she said, acknowledging how her writing style has matured in her latest novel. “To present men in their complexity is more recent… because yes, our world is a sexist one but sexism damages men just as much as it damages women.” She accounted for this change saying, “My vocal feminism has also changed what I write about and I don’t try and please as much.”

In response to the gender politics that surrounds her work and women’s fiction generally both Colgan and Keyes dislike the term “chick-lit”. “I don’t understand why novels written by women have to have a reductive title, they’re just called novels, they’re not called dick-lit or anything” said Keyes, “it’s just another way of making the things that women do not as important as the things that men do”.

Similarly, she argued male authors don’t get asked whether they are like the characters in their books. “Women writers get treated like they have no imagination… it is very wearying so I do say would you ask Roddy Doyle that? Or would you as Colm Toibin that? And they wouldn’t.”

Colgan asked if she could offer any advice to those struggling with depression in this frightening time, recalling a previously uplifting piece Keyes had written about it. She responded, “Keep life as simple as possible if you can. If you can identify anything that makes you feel safe and takes you out of your own head and horror just grab it. It’s always worth it, if you haven’t, go to your GP.” Of her own journey she said, “. I thought I would never feel normal or happy again… I felt that I loved nobody and nobody loved me and now I love nearly everybody. You can get better.”

The Edinburgh International Book Festival continues until Monday 31 August. All events are free to view through the Book Festival’s website edbookfest.co.uk.

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