Always and Forever by Cathy Kelly

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Always and Forever by Cathy Kelly introduced me to several women in Carrickwell outside of Dublin, Ireland. Each woman was struggling with a different issue. And all of the issues were things, I believe, that most women grapple with at one time or another in their life.

Mel, a working mom is frantic, tired and full of guilt everyday as she leaves her two young daughters at daycare. Working moms idealize the life of stay-at-home moms. Stay-at-home moms feel marginalized and unappreciated. So, what should Mel do? Continue to work or quit?

Cleo, a headstrong, independent young woman fresh out of college wanting to save her family hotel business. But as the baby of the family, neither her parents nor her brothers take her seriously. They dismiss her and an argument threatens to drive a permanent wedge in her family. With the family business gone, will she find a purpose? Will her family rift be healed?

Daisy, a fashion buyer for a local clothing store, has what she thinks is the perfect life except for a baby. She is worried she will never have a baby but her long-term partner isn’t thrilled about pursuing infertility treatment. A major life change comes her way and what will she do about it? Will she emerge stronger or will it destroy her?

Then there is the American woman who buys an old estate and creates Clouds Hill Spa, a place of healing your spirit and pampering your body. What secret does she have? Will the women come together and find the answers and the strength they need to face their struggles?

I identified with all of the women. I liked this book because it didn’t provide simple solutions to life’s difficult problems. We could feel the characters internal struggles and understood how difficult their choices would be.

Since I’ve decided to have a Live the Book theme for my book blog, I looked to the book for inspiration for things to experience. How lucky for me this book had lots of visits to a spa. Since there are four major characters, I will do an activity suited to each one.

Mel: reconnect with my inner homemaker and sew apron

Cleo: make contact with my family. I will write letters

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Daisy: style expert and lover of quality things. I will clean my closet.

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Leah of Clouds Hill Spa: A place to heal your soul and get special treatment. I will get a manicure and pedicure

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