Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Blog Tour: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

ARC clearly defined in accordance with review policy here
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Today I want to talk about Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane. Released in the UK and Ireland on August 8th, this is a powerful, touching story about family and relationships. 

Here's my summary and review:

Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope have a lot in common. Their fathers are NYPD cops, even working together for a time in the 1970s. Their mothers are both immigrants. They grow up next door to each other and form a strong friendship, each assuming they have each other's back for life. One night, a shocking incident changes the dynamic of the two families forever - leading to decades of upheaval. This is a look at how that incident, and the events before and after it, affect the two families. Can they ever heal? 

I'm going to admit something, when I started this and saw that it began with cops in the 1970s, I thought it was going to be just a standard Irish-immigrant-in-America story. I had seen it compared to Brooklyn more than once, and while I was happy to read it, I wasn't overly excited. Having finished it, I think comparisons to any other novel should be avoided (especially ones with dull main characters - looking at you, Eilish Lacey). This is a sweeping, touching, heartfelt novel about two families and how their lives intertwine. How one single night can change all of their lives forever - but in reality, was it just one single night? Or were there several days and nights, even fleeting moments, that built up, clung to each other, and simmered until they swelled into one giant crashing wave? 

This has been described as "boy meets girl" or "a touching romance" - for me, personally, the romance was the least interesting part. I didn't really feel a huge romantic connection between the two, because the timeline advanced quite quickly in parts. For me, reading a romance, there has to be a little bit of tension, a build-up - and I didn't feel that here. I wasn't very interested in the romantic element but I was very, very invested in the male partner and how the events of his childhood would shape him as a man.  

The real gem of this story, and the character I became completely enthralled by, was Anne Stanhope. She's a fascinating woman - flawed, troubled, human. The development of her character was so engaging, she felt so real to me. Ditto Francis Gleeson - these two characters have so much backstory, so much heart, and the writer really took the time to flesh them out so that we had some sort of understanding as to why they behaved the way they did, and why they made the choices they made.

I would have loved a little more insight into George, I was shocked when his age was revealed because I assumed he was so much older. I wanted to go back and re-read his parts again with this fresh information, just to try and get more of a feel for him and how so much had happened to him in his early years. I thought he was a wonderful addition to the story. 

This isn't always an easy read - the more serious incidents aside, the thing that was most unsettling for me was the tiny hints that history was possibly about to repeat itself and that I, as a reader, was completely powerless to do anything about it. All I could do was observe. 

This book has already gained huge popularity after being chosen as one of Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show Summer Reads, a BBC Radio 2 Book Club choice for Autumn, and no doubt will be popular with book clubs the world over. 

Thank you to Sriya at Penguin Random House for asking me to take part in the blog tour and for sending me an early copy. You can check out what others have to say about Ask Again, Yes by having a look at the blogs below:

You can request the book at your local library, or it can be purchased at any book retailer including

If you've read it, drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter/Instagram (I'm @sharonleavy1 on both) where I'm always happy to talk books!

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