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The First Wives Club

Three divorced women seek revenge on the husbands who left them for younger women in the 1996 movie The First Wives' Club, and which starred Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton. It doesn't take a genius to work out how things are very different for Dublin's new First Wives' Club -- Andrea Roche (32), Vivienne Connolly (35), Ruth Griffin (35) and Grainne Seoige (36).

And even considering another woman has been mentioned in relation to the trouble in the Ronan and Yvonne Keating household (and we're still at the stage of will they/won't they divorce), the idea of an angry Yvonne plotting a fanciful revenge on her errant husband seems unimaginable.

Instead, it's very possible to imagine the glamorous blonde busily decorating her large new home in Abington in Malahide should she and Ronan ever decide their sweetheart romance has turned irrevocably sour and call it a day.

The characters in the 1996 movie (the same year divorce was introduced in Ireland) felt bitter and abandoned when their marriages ended -- the movie begins with Stockard Channing (who recently played the redoubtable Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest in the Gaiety) walking onto the balcony of her luxurious penthouse, wearing a fur coat and with a cigarette and a drink, and after one last sip, jumping off after learning her husband is divorcing her for a much younger woman.

It was not very encouraging for the women of Dublin who were welcoming divorce as an inevitable move towards modern family life and living. In the movie, loyal wives are abandoned by men who had a choice of moving onto greener pastures. The rejected wives plot revenge, and strip their husbands of their money and power and any hope that a younger woman would be bothered looking at them again.

Would Yvonne Keating be bothered to wreak revenge on Ronan should she decide to leave him for good? It is easier to imagine her having lunches in the city's swankier restaurants with the girls, going for regular trims and highlights in a hair salon serving green tea and organic oatmeal coconut cookies, having relaxing pedicures in award-winning spas, or organising play dates for her adorable children. Or enjoying exhilarating shopping sprees in Brown Thomas and Harvey Nicks where no expense would be spared and a new and possibly edgier and sexier image worked out for the newly single Yvonne.

With her model figure, immaculate grooming, unsullied credentials, connections and money to take her wherever she wants to go, it's impossible to imagine that the former model wouldn't bag herself an attractive and desirable replacement for Ronan, and in no time at all.

Revenge is so passe. Face it, a newly single Yvonne would be living the high life and there would be no time, and it's doubtful, any inclination, for revenge against her disloyal husband on her part.

The other gorgeous young women currently facing divorce are just as unlikely to see divorce as the penurious punishment that Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton did in the movie. Our new First Wives have careers. They are not reliant on former husbands for handouts. Think of Grainne Seoige's high profile and sterling media career, and Ruth Griffin's modelling career still has legs. While a radiant Andrea Roche, a former Miss Ireland who is currently the boss of the Miss Universe Ireland pageant, is expected to do even more modelling following her split from her husband of three years, PJ Mansfield, the son of Citywest tycoon Jim Mansfield.

They do not see divorce as a heartbreaking end to a love life. Gorgeous Andrea, who has been seen on the arm of her Killiney businessman beau Rob White, brother of RTE actress Holly White, makes divorce look smokin'.

Over 3,400 couples reportedly divorced in 2006 (the year of the last census), and each year more couples go their separate ways following the legalisation of divorce in 1996. Naturally, it's unimaginable to today's young woman that she would be legally stuck with a man in a failing marriage, and until death does them apart.

Beautiful young women are leaving marriages to successful men and, following the pain and sacrifice, are bouncing back to life with style and ambition. If "first wife" was once a derogative term, and its meaning spelled out rejection and abandonment, today it can be translated into determined to be happy and enjoy life.

Meanwhile, model Vivienne Connolly, still stunning in her 30s, has split from husband and gym boss Mark Dunne, the son of businessman Ben Dunne. The Compton Agency model was with Mark for 10 years, the couple have two children, and they split after five years of marriage.

Vivienne, who has been charming the camera again with her striking blonde Hollywoodesque beauty, is expected to continue to live in the family's luxurious home in Castleknock. In her prime at 35, financially secure and still rocking in the looks department, it's easy to imagine Vivienne is well pitched for love a second time around, and for moving into a new relationship, and quite possibly even into a new family dynamic.

Have we ever seen First Wives with more going for them than Andrea, Yvonne, (providing she decides to throw in the towel), Vivienne or Grainne? With such striking good looks, financial acumen, social armoury, glamorous charisma and career potential, the only way for these girls is up. And onwards.

Give it 12 or 24 months, the city's glamorous young women who recently left marriages for one reason or another will have relaunched themselves either as singletons or into new relationships. They will, if they have not already let go of the disappointment and lost dreams and perhaps misplaced trust, have at least moved on to the point where they know themselves well, and know how to look after themselves, and keep themselves well and happy.

Only time will tell how the beauties in our new First Wives' Club -- no longer embarrassed and bitter like Hawn and Keaton's characters in the movie -- change how our younger generations plan their lives? Marry, have baby, divorce, and marry again, perhaps?


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