Marian Keyes’s Watermelon is the story of Claire, aged 29, who has a picture-perfect life, or so it seems. She has a gorgeous husband – James, a good job, a flat and is about to deliver her first child. Things change after she delivers. Claire is looking forward to cuddling her baby together with James when he visits her in hospital, but she is in for a shock. Without even looking at the baby, James tells her that he is leaving her – that he does not love her any more and that he is involved with another woman. This news shatters Claire – she had never seen it coming.
Soon after her discharge from the hospital, Claire decides to move with her baby to Dublin, where her parents are. In about a week’s time, her world has turned topsy-turvy. She is fat, none of her clothes fit her, she does not know what she will do with her child and herself, she does not know why James had to leave her, and she desperately misses him. Her quirky family embraces Claire with open arms, and she begins to heal. The book gets its title from Claire’s ‘watermelon-y’ figure during her pregnancy and immediately after she delivers.
I am sorry to state that I did not enjoy the book at all. The story is pure chick-lit, entirely fluff, and has no substance to it. You feel like you have read this story so many times over – husband leaves wife, wife draws in on her inner strength and matures. There is even a love interest thrown in, and just when things are going good with him, James re-enters. Nothing new there! The storyline is very, very, very predictable.
I found it unbelievable that Claire never got an inkling that her marriage with James was about to end. I am of the opinion that a woman – or a man, for that matter – begins to hear the alarm bells at least a while before such an unfortunate event takes place. Was Claire too thick for that?
The book is excessively drawn out – it runs into well over 500 pages without really needing it. None of the characters – including Claire – are well sketched. Claire infuriated me by being a total bimbette, with no brains to call her own and a high level of insecurity and childishness. All along, I wanted to give Claire one tight slap. James’s character develops a bit towards the end of the book, but it seems forced. A little bit of depth into the characters would have gone a long way into making the book much more readable and enjoyable.
And, I don’t know why the author decided to go into such lengthy descriptions of her times of intimacy with her love interest, so much so that it almost reads like porn in some parts! If it is a book-selling tactic, it is totally uncalled for and disgusting!
The only good point of Watermelon is the quirky characters, and Keyes’s humour. Claire’s family continues to entertain the reader throughout the book with their eccentricities. Keyes has made even ordinary things seem sparkling with her characteristic wit and humour.
I went into the book looking forward to read a strong story, but I was disappointed with the way it actually turned out. Watermelon, incidentally, being my first Keyes book, was also Keyes’s debut novel. I have heard good things about her other books, and am not going to give up on her just because of this book alone.
Have you read this book? What did you feel about it?