Stand By Me Summary

Sheila O'Flanagan

Stand By Me

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Stand By Me Summary

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Stand By Me by Sheila O’Flanagan is a novel about Dominique Brady, and the changes she experiences over the course of the first twenty years or so of her adult life. Her story begins at age nineteen. She is living with her deeply religious family and their expectations. Despite the fact that she is independent, her parents want her to be more like her brother Gabriel, who becomes a priest. However, when she meets the ambitious Brendan Delahaye while working at a café, she imagines a life different from what her parents want for her.

Somewhat naïve and unpopular, she is swept away by Brendan’s charm. Before long, she becomes pregnant and they marry. After their daughter, Kelly, is born, Dominique falls into depression. Brendan stays with her and supports her, helping her through it. From there, their lives soon become everything she dreamed of. Brendan’s construction business takes off, and they are thrust into a lifestyle of glitz and glamour. They attend charity events, appear regularly in newspapers and magazines, and own a big house. Dominique becomes known as “Dazzling Domino.” Their social circle expands to include the wealthiest and most influential people in and near Cork, Ireland, where they live.

Twenty years into a rocky marriage, everything falls apart when Brendan mysteriously disappears. His business collapses. Their friends turn their backs on Dominique. Eventually, she must sell their home and all of her jewelry to make ends meet. Even Brendan’s parents turn against her, claiming her extravagant lifestyle led to his disappearance. Dominique leaves Cork and moves to Dublin, where she and Kelly shore one another up. Dominique gets a job and makes new friends, and even meets a potential new beau.

At this point, when Dominique has grown from being dependent on Brendan to being independent once more, Brendan returns. Upon his return, all of their old friends welcome him with open arms. He wants life to be as it was. Dominique realizes that while she could have the glamorous life she enjoyed before, she does not want to live that way anymore. She does not want to give up her independence.

There are five themes present in Stand By Me. The first, and most prevalent, is independence and self-discovery. Dominique begins her story as an independent young adult. She knows what her family wants for her, and realizes that it is not who she is, so she pursues a different path. However, after her depression, she relies on Brendan and their lifestyle to inform her identity. She becomes “Dazzling Domino.” When left to shift for herself, she once more becomes independent—only she doesnot want to give that up a second time around when Brendan returns because she has rediscovered whom she really is.

The other themes include marriage, loyalty, depression, and popularity. Throughout the first twenty years of their marriage, there are plenty of opportunities for Brendan and Dominique to part ways, but they stick together. It is not until Brendan disappears that Dominique begins to reimagine her life as an independent woman. She comes to understand that their friends are not loyal to her; the friends she makes in Dublin are. The depression she experiences after Kelly is born is both realistic and what sets her up to depend on her husband. That, along with the popularity she enjoys—which she didnot have as a child—help to keep her invested in the lifestyle she and Brendan enjoy, at least until he disappears.

Stand By Me begins in medias res, meaning it starts in the middle of the plot via the prologue. The story then goes back to when Dominique is nineteen years old and meets Brendan;it continues from there. The story is told in third-person point of view, which gives the reader some distance from Dominique, but also allows for a broader scope.

Sheila O’Flanagan is an award-winning author. Her book All For You won the Irish Independent Popular Fiction Book of the Year Award. The Missing Wife,My Mother’s Secret, and If You Were Me all appeared on the Sunday Times bestsellers list. Including Stand By Me, she has written more than twenty titles. In addition to her novels, O’Flanagan also writes short stories. She has published several bestselling short story collections, including Destinations, A Season to Remember, and Connections. Before writing fiction, she worked in the banking and financial sector, and rose to the level of Chief Dealer. She was the first woman to attain that distinction in all of Ireland. When she decided to realize her dream of becoming a writer, she devoted herself to writing fiction in her spare time until, after publishing several books, she was able to leave finance and focus on writing full-time.