Friday 23 February 2018

Checking into Ireland's first divorce hotel with 'Fair City's' Claudia

Love Me Or Leave Me Claudia Carroll Avon Books tpbk €9.99, 420 pages

Claudia Carroll
Claudia Carroll
'Love Me Or Leave Me'

Anne Cunningham

It appears that I've been living a way-too-sheltered life. I hadn't heard of divorce hotels. I've got the skinny on them now, though, from Claudia Carroll. Not directly – I don't know her personally – but through the setting of her latest book, Love Me or Leave Me.

Yes indeedy, they're tripping over themselves with divorce hotels in The Netherlands, where it all started. Easier to get to Holland than to Haiti, too, isn't it? Go Google those flight tickets.

The idea of divorce hotels is that they make breaking up as efficient and painless as possible – from a legal, financial and emotional point of view – and you get all that paperwork wrapped up in a single weekend with experts on hand to guide you. At least that's how they do it in Holland.

Love Me or Leave Me is set in Ireland's first divorce hotel, fictional of course. The Ferndale is situated just off "leafy" Fitzwilliam Square. Where they managed to find the space for a substantial Zen garden out the back is anyone's guess, but then reading books – and reading fiction, in particular – demands some stretches, and even some downright leaps, of the imagination at times.

The new hotel's manager, Chloe, knows that breaking up is hard to do. Still bearing the scars of being jilted on her wedding day, she is familiar with shattered dreams, and with finding a Plan B.

Her crisis-management skills make her the right woman for the job when everything goes belly-up on the hotel's opening weekend. When her boss checks in, though, Chloe is understandably shaken. But not stirred.

Along with Chloe, the novel introduces three couples who have checked in on that very weekend. And they're all hellbent on making a clean break: arriving married and emerging divorced, or at least ready to sign the decree nisi and whatever else might be necessary.

But the best laid plans of mice and men and divorce hotels often go awry. The opening weekend is full of revelations, troubles, memories and sad facts that people need to face.

Claudia Carroll left Fair City, where she played the slightly unhinged and hysterical (OK, wildly hysterical) Nicola, to embark on a fulltime writing career. She has enjoyed enormous success in chick-lit since then, writing a long list of bestsellers in the past 10 years. I can't imagine her latest offering will be any different – Love Me or Leave Me is bang on the money.

Available with free P&P on or by calling 091 709 350

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