Four SA authors pen uplifting tale of friendship

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Based on the fandom surrounding a real-life, beloved author and billed as “the most anticipated feel-good novel of 2022”, Chasing Marian has a lot to live up to. Thankfully, it doesn’t fall far short and even Marian Keyes herself has endorsed it. 

The book is warm and funny, and a timely reflection on the online/in-person hybrid many of us are facing. Incredibly, for a book written by four authors, it also boasts superb flow.

‘Chasing Marian’: Synopsis

Jess, Ginger, Queenie and Matt meet in a Facebook group dedicated to Marian Keyes fans. They soon discover that they are all desperate to meet with the famous Irish author and hatch various plots to meet her.

A friendship blooms that soon extends beyond their obsession with Marian and into the deepest, most unhappy parts of their lives. 

  • Jess, whose husband recently left her, must come to terms with her substance abuse and the decision she made to give up her career for motherhood.
  • Ginger longs to prove to her daughters, who nag her to move to an old-age home, that she is more than just their mom.
  • Queenie, in an unsatisfying long-distance relationship, yearns to make more of her life, especially her secret writing hobby.
  • And Matt, overwhelmed by his family life, wants to finally be in a relationship his mom would approve of. 

Through WhatsApp, Zoom, Facebook and a handful of in-person meetings, the four friends become each other’s bedrock in difficult times. But is everything as bleak as it seems? They might just find that every cloud has a silver lining…

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Is ‘Chasing Marian’ for you?

It’s hard to think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy Chasing Marian (except, perhaps, the most cerebral of readers). The story is heartwarming and the contemporary South African setting is comfortingly familiar. 

Of course, if you’re a Marian Keyes fan, you will particularly enjoy this read! The plot is all-too-relatable — who hasn’t dreamt of meeting Marian? Not to worry, though, this isn’t pure fan crushing; there’s plenty of real-life drama for the characters to grapple with, too. 

There are also some similarities to Keyes’ own works (which have helped to define the contemporary fiction genre). The style of the novel is funny and self-reflective. Also, the plot centres on relationships, while integrating an insider’s look at current social issues.

So, if you enjoyed The Last Chance Saloon or Again, Rachel, think of this as a South African spin to enjoy.

About the authors

Amy Heydenrych, Qarnita Loxton, Pamela Power and Gail Schimmel are the writers behind Chasing Marian. The four friends are all authors who decided to work on the novel together as a lockdown project.

This was fuelled by their disappointment at not being able to socialise with each other and by the cancellation of literary festivals at which they had been booked to engage with Marian Keyes. 

Chasing Marian is published by Pan Macmillan and retails for R306 at Exclusive Books.

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