They Never Gave Up  by  Linda Penhall (IFWG Publishers)
Set against a wonderfully charming Irish background, They Never Gave Up chronicles  the lives of Cathy and Pauline, two life-long friends who traverse through life with an abundant amount of energy, reckless abandon and  relentless gusto.

Cathy is smart, witty and gorgeous. She has a love affair with horses and a devoted husband who adores her.  Her life should be everything she's ever wanted and more. But is it really what she wants? And does she really have it all?

For Pauline, on the other hand, life is one big party.  She's the life and soul of every event and makes sure that she stands out and is noticed by all and sundry. Yet, underneath the reckless devil-may-care attitude, hides a sensitive soul who longs for love and acceptance.

Between trying to manage work, life, love, marriage and heartbreak, the lives of these two lifelong friends are only just beginning to get interesting.


Back in the day I used to read a lot of chick lit. Unfortunately, because I gorged myself out on this genre, I became bored rather quickly. The themes and concepts were the same and for me, and after a while it just seemed like every book I was reading was the same story with just another book cover.

So when Linda first approached me and asked me if I'd consider reviewing the book, I admit to being a little reluctant. Luckily for me, it had been years since I've last read a chick-lit and luckily for her, she is Irish and the book is set against an Irish backdrop (can you tell I have a love of all things Irish?), so I decided to give the book a chance.

And I'm glad I did. 

They Never Gave Up is packed with many emotions and the voices of the characters are wonderfully authentic. Not only that, but it's a heart-warming read that to me, places an emphasis on the power of true friendship.

Of course, it may sound as if it is in actual fact a standard chick-lit, but Linda is a wonderful writer that manages to inject a vibrant voice into a novel and combine it with strong themes which add a complex and layered dimension to her story.

Cathy and Pauline are both well-developed and strong heroines who each have battles of their own to face. I marvelled at the girl who lost her mother at a young age and was strangely moved by the plight of the other girl who got caught up in the wrong crowd and ended up with battling a serious drug problem. 

The fact that there was such a serious topic thread into this novel genuinely surprised me as I was expecting a light and far fluffier read.

There is a love story that is interwoven throughout the novel, and while it forms a big part of the novel, it doesn't dominate the threads and themes of friendship that forms the other main aspect of this novel. The journey between Cathy and Pauline is all the more authentic because both of the characters are so fully fleshed out.

Both of them have flaws and aren't apologetic about them - they fight, they laugh, they cry together… but mostly they just grow together. And for me, this is what made the story so real.

… If you’re looking for chick-lit with substance, you’ll definitely find all that and so much more in They Never Gave Up.

I'd highly recommend it.

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