Sushi for Beginners Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Sushi for Beginners

Lisa, Ashling and Clodagh are three woman trying to find happiness through love in Dublin. The story is written from the POV of Lisa, Ashling and Clodagh. Lisa is an ambitious and beautiful woman who is willing to do anything to get what she wants. Ashling is the complete opposite of Lisa, she's a worry-wart but very trusting and earnest and straightforward - a small town sort of girl. Clodagh is a married woman who always seemed to have life easy - the right marriage, the right man, the good looks etc. yet she isn't happy.
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The story begins with Lisa thinking she will be promoted to head of a magazine in New York but finding out she was jipped and will be heading a magazine called Colleen overseas, in Dublin, where nothing happens. Meanwhile, Ashling is very excited to advance her career by applying for a job at Colleen magazine. As she waits to be interviewed, she witnesses an argument between a handsome, broody man and his girlfriend which ends up with the girlfriend biting him on his finger and storming off. Ashling, being annoyingly prepared for anything, gives him a band-aid. Her organized and reliable attitude impresses one of the heads of the magazine but not Jack, the broody guy who was bitten.

Meanwhile, Lisa arrives in Dublin to pouring rain and total boredom and loneliness that she won't admit to herself. She feels like a loser sent out to the middle of nowhere - she's used to big cities thrumming with parties and handsome men. At the office, Lisa is unimpressed with her staff and the tiny, unglamorous look of her office. She doesn't get along with most of her staff as she is domineering and catty. She is however, slightly appeased when she sees handsome Jack and vows she will get him for herself as he's the only guy who is remotely near her league. In the next few weeks, Lisa turns on all her flirting power to get Jack's attention but Jack proves surprisingly resistant to her charms. One day, however, Jack hears that Lisa is looking for a house and he offers to take her to one. Lisa, thinking Jack may be making moves on her agrees to go with him to see the house.

The next following weeks, Ashling tries to live a new life to match with her new glamorous job at Colleen. She gets along fairly well with her co-workers except Jack doesn't seem to like her. One day, Jack is hankering for a smoke and takes Ashling's cigarettes before disappearing into his office. Her co-workers sympathize with her, thinking Jack is abusing his power as their boss. At a staff meeting, Jack wants to hear ideas for their magazine. Lisa pitches one of Ashling's ideas as her own to try to impress Jack. The stolen idea was to have a column from a man's POV in the magazine. Ashling find she is unable to stand up for herself and is angry at herself and at Lisa.

Meanwhile Clodagh is unhappy in her marriage even though she's married to a perfectly beautiful man and has a family and seems set for life. She misses the excitement of her single-life - she misses being available and having men stare at her and give her attention. She's also having a hard time getting any peace from her two children. In a bid to start a new chapter in her life, she decides she wants to go back to work. She starts to join Ashling and her friends on her nights out at comedy clubs.

Jack shows Lisa the potential house, which turns out to be completely not what Lisa's looking for as it is a rustic sort of house in the suburbs and Lisa prefers the modern look, preferably a flat in the city among younger neighbors not families. When Lisa tries to make a move on Jack, Jack is really unresponsive. Colleen magazine starts getting invitations for press launches. Lisa, running out of options, has to take Ashling to one of the press launches. She tries to teach Ashling all the rules of behavior to set an image that is glamorous and cool but Ashling finds it hard. Clodagh has a hard time finding a job because she's so out of touch with the modern day skill-sets seeing as how she never really had to work because her husband takes care of everything.

A few days later, Ashling is tentatively starting to date a comedian, Marcus Valentine. At the comedy club, Lisa also meets Marcus and knows right off the bat that he is the type of guy that will get bored of Ashling and dump her. Lisa plans on getting Marcus to do the men's column for Colleen. At the end of the day, Lisa is surprised to find that she actually had fun with Ashling's friends at the comedy club, despite her reservations. Ashling waits for Marcus to call her but he doesn't seem to be as eager as her to meet up. Finally she and him sleep together and their relationship starts becoming steadier.

Meanwhile, Jack surprises Ashling with a long-awaited apology gift - cigarettes. This small gesture is the first time Jack even acknowledges Ashling. Later on, Ashling inadvertently helps Jack reconcile with his high-spirited girlfriend by giving him advice on how to treat her right so that they both won't argue so much. Even though Jack's girlfriend is surprised that Jack can be so patient with her, she finally breaks up with him because she actually loves arguing even though Jack doesn't. In the meantime, Lisa gets a visit from her ex-husband. They have a complicating relationship. Lisa feels that Oliver is the only man she has ever truly loved but they had to break up because Oliver wanted to settle down and have a family but Lisa didn't.

One day, Ashling invite Clodagh to the comedy club where Marcus is performing. At the party after, Clodagh lets loose with drink and flirting. Ashling is ashamed of Clodagh's behavior as she is shaming her husband, Dylan, who is also Ashling's very good long time friend. Meanwhile, at the office, Lisa's equilibrium is thrown off by Oliver's brief visit. She also learns that Jack broke up with his girlfriend and she suddenly admits she truly does desire Jack, not just in the superficial way she was attracted to him initially. Jack also seems to be opening up a bit towards Lisa, as he sees her in a more vulnerable state (because of Oliver) but also respects her capabilities to drive Colleen towards success. Lisa and Jack share a box of sushi at the office. Ashling watches curiously as they assemble the sushi and eat it - she's never tried it before but she is curious. Jack laughs at Ashling's innocence. Lisa and Jack go on a date. Lisa tries to convince herself that Jack must like her.

Meanwhile, it is revealed that Clodagh has been spiraling out of control - cheating on her husband with Ashling's boyfriend. Clodagh feels guilty enough that she tells Marcus that she can't see him anymore.

At Colleen, the magazine is preparing for their launch party. As the day of the launch party dawns, Ashling gets an ear infection. She desperately needs to get her hair done, too, however all the hair salons are booked. Everyone is out of the office, getting ready for the party. The only person at the office is Jack and surprisingly, he offers to shampoo her hair for her. He is very careful about not getting water in her ear and its a strangely erotic and tender moment between the two. At the party, Ashling gets drunk and cracks a few lame jokes with Jack. Jack has this sudden feeling that he can trust organized little Miss Fix-It with his life. He realizes he's starting to have feelings for Ashling. Across the room, he also sees Lisa and he wonders why he doesn't want to fall for Lisa. He amusedly thinks to himself that he may be having a nervous breakdown.

The next day, Ashling gets a visit from Dylan. Dylan tells her that he caught Clodagh in bed with Ashling's boyfriend. Both of them are shocked and angry. Dylan plans on divorcing Clodagh. Surprisingly, Jack comforts Ashling. Lisa opens the door to Jack's office and sees the two and she has an understanding that she has lost to Ashling. Ashling confronts Clodagh about it and for once, she's not so nice and understanding. They break off their friendship.

Meanwhile, Clodagh is finding that she's slowly beginning to like the quiet life. She's gotten to know her neighbors and has become friendly with them which is unlike her.

Ashling falls into a depression about life in general. One of the bums that lives near her house in particular makes her feel sad. Jack, picking up on this, finds the bum and offers him a job and a new chance at life. Ashling doesn't realize it because she's in a sort of depressed stupor, but Jack's beginning to make the moves on her - asking her to have lunch and dinner with him on the pretense of celebrating things. Finally, she gets the signal and finds out that Jack liked her since the press launch party.

Eventually, Ashling and Jack will become an item, Clodagh will get her just deserts as Marcus ditches her as well for another lady, Lisa will decide to move to London to work at a rival magazine company but she and Ashling will be on better terms with each other.
Best part of story, including ending: I like that each character in the book is treated with humor and tenderness.

Best scene in story: My favorite scene was when Ashling makes the joke about the perfume Oui to Jack - it was one of the moments that Jack realizes he might just like her.

Opinion about the main character: I like that Ashling is so earnest - it's rare in a story that one of the main girls is like Ashling and gets the man.

The review of this Book prepared by Sharon C. a Level 12 Black-Throated Green Warbler scholar

Chapter Analysis of Sushi for Beginners

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   humorous Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999 Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Ethnic/Regional/Religion    -   Irish Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Ethnic/regional/gender life    -   Yes Unmarried Love Triangle?    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   writer Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   Irish


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () City?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Marian Keyes Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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