05 May 2012

All For You

By Sheila O'Flanagan
Published by Headline Review
an imprint of Headline Publishing Group
First published in 2011

Lainey Ryan is a meterologist living in Dublin.  Tall and beautiful, she is a hit as the local TV station's "weather girl".  She longs to be married and this longing leads to a life of failed relationships.

Deanna Ryan is a high-profile feminist living in California.  Stern and opinionated, she is a hit in the world of publishing.  She longs for women to be equal to men and this longing leads to a life of failed motherhood.

Deanna is Lainey's estranged mother who left Lainey to be raised by her grandparents in Ireland whilst Deanna lived and worked for the feminist cause in California.

While the name of the book leads you to believe this is a typical chick-lit type of book where the lead character finds her dream man and lives happily ever after, this book is more about the choices women make for love.  For Deanna, her choice to leave Lainey with her grandparents was because she knew Lainey would have a better life; Deanna wasn't cut out to be the kind of mother Lainey needed.  For Lainey, her choices in men were due to never having a father and feeling the need to be loved by a man in order to fill that void in her life - and any man at all is acceptable.

The novel goes back and forth between Deanna's life as a young woman in California and present-day Ireland.  While obviously a tool to see how Deanna's and Lainey's lives unfold, it was annoying to be in the present day and then be sent back in time.  A story told from beginning to end would have been more effective.


I liked O'Flanagan's decision to end the novel with Lainey unattached and liking it.  However, I
detest the idea of Deanna suddenly dyeing her hair and buying more flattering clothes because she has met a man.  After reading an entire novel where Deanna was a strong feminist character with unwavering opinions, it was disappointing to see such a change in her character.  As well, I felt the backstory for Lainey's father fell a bit flat.

O'Flanagan has written a good story of love for grandmother, mother, and daughter, and how women's lives have changed since the 1970s.  However, it's not as well thought out as her previous novels, the characters are not as compelling, and the ending a disappointment.

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