In the small town is Ardagh, Ireland rests a successful and popular department store, Kenny's. Many lives of the people in this town revolve around Kenny's. They own it, are married to the owner, work there, have relatives who are employed there or have some other connection. These connections run deep through the town, connecting not only the people to the store, but the people to each other.
In Cathy Kelly's novel, Once in a Lifetime, she introduces fascinating characters with wonderful, albeit sometimes heartbreaking, stories to tell. Although probably considered chick lit Once in a Lifetime takes twists and turns that are unexpected and take the characters in directions that allow them to become fully realized and more relatable.
Stories start out typically enough, following patterns you would assume. Not to say that's a bad thing, they are enjoyable and captivating stories on their own. Yet at a certain point each story takes an unexpected turn and I found myself unable to put the book down for wanting to find out more details. The depths these stories go to is fascinating and they become real. It's not all fluff and sugar, but real problems are dealt with and I think that's something people can really relate to.
Aside from wonderfully twisting stories, the characters are widely diverse and as a result, they really have space to grow. They take their roots in certain stock characters (the strange old woman, the powerful working mom/wife, the cast off daughter, etc) but the grow from their and take on their own forms. Mainly female lead characters, they are all strong woman in their own ways and it's enjoyable reading about them maneuvering through their lives.
I thoroughly enjoyed Once in a Lifetime and appreciate that Cathy Kelly kept me intrigued from the moment I opened the novel to when I closed the back cover.