No Chick-lit but work of Substance

The Weekend Break by Ruth O’Leary

By Louise Whelan

I always know if I’m going to enjoy a book from the first few lines so when I started reading this in the Newsfour office, I couldn’t put it down.  I was hooked.

The story begins with four friends, Vivienne, Helen, Clara and Miriam who had all met five years previous at a Human Resource management course, they all just clicked and then decided to meet up on each other’s birthdays during the year and that evolved into overnight stays and weekends away.  We meet the characters going on a weekend break to Galway before Christmas and unbeknownst to them, each one has something in their life and family life that they are not happy with and want to change and are using the weekend to deal with their own demons.  These women are all at a crucial crossroads in their lives and they aren’t just on the weekend away to party and shop.  Each character is soul searching and we find out what is going on in their thoughts and feelings as the book progresses.  They all have their secrets but one of them has a shockingly dark secret that will shake the very core of the friendship group, but sometimes the truth can reveal itself with a bang.

I found each character had to learn what was true for them in order to lead a life that was happy.  A lot of their actions had consequences that seeped through other aspects including their marriages, kids and workplaces. I like when characters take accountability for their own mistakes and recognise that they are not in alignment with their life and have to untangle the wires that bind them.  There are a lot of issues in the book that the author deals with in a caring and understanding way, showing empathy and sensitivity so some readers will relate to the different problems or know somebody going through the same things.

I did like most of the characters bar one, but Vivienne and Clara’s husbands I just wanted to throttle!  I can only describe them as toxic narcs and when Clara is finally speaking up and having the conversation with Richard about her needs and wants, he drives me crazy with his control freak caveman attitude, but her character development showed through as she learned how to be her real self and not be afraid of confrontation when it is needed.

The Weekend Break is a debut book from Ruth O’Leary and it is not a funny chick-lit read with hilarious moments of fun / trouble / madness that usually ensues on girly weekends, instead it showcases a pivotal point in each women’s lives where nothing will ever be the same again, and takes us on their journey that keeps the reader engrossed for the outcomes.  I devoured this book in one setting and just couldn’t put it down until the last page.  I would definitely recommend curling up with this on a rainy day and getting stuck in.  Looking forward to reading more from Ruth O’Leary in the future.

See interview with the author on page 4.

The Weekend Break by Ruth O’Leary is published by Poolbeg Press (2024), price €12.99, and is available in Books on the Green, Sandymount, and all good bookshops.