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Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond / Book Review

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Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond

 

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Publishing Date: 4th June  2015

Source:  Received from publisher, thank you!.

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 Synopsis:

A seaside holiday at Shell Cottage in Devon has always been the perfect escape for the Tarrant family. Beach fun, barbecues and warm summer evenings with a cocktail or two – who could ask for more?

But this year, everything has changed. Following her husband’s recent death, Olivia is struggling to pick up the pieces. Then she makes a shocking discovery that turns her world upside down.

As a busy mum and GP, Freya’s used to having her hands full, but a bad day at work has put her career in jeopardy and now she’s really feeling the pressure.

Harriet’s looking forward to a break with her lovely husband Robert and teenage daughter Molly. But unknown to Harriet, Robert is hiding a secret – and so, for that matter, is Molly . .

Rating: 5/5

 

Each time when I hear that Lucy Diamond is writing her new book, I start to count the days to the publication day. It wasn’t different this time, „Summer at the Shell Cottage” has sounded so promising and inviting, and when I saw its cover for the first time, I could swoon. When it arrived on my doorstep, the reality exceeded my expectations, as the cover of my proof is just gorgeous! It has such lovely colours, and it’s shiny, outside and inside! Just imagine what it means for such a sucker as me, a person who loves a wonderful cover and glitter. Ha!
But it is not only the cover that made me feel so excited. The premise to the book sounded just like my cup of tea: again, it’s about a group of women, and secrets, just my kind of read, and when I finished it, I was ooh – ing and aah – ing for a very long time, feeling so, so good and contented.

What is the story about? Well, it’s about Olivia and her family. It introduces us to very young Olivia on her wedding day to Alec and then quickly fast – forwards to a day of Alec’s death and showing his family trying to cope with this unexpected fact. The family used to spent each summer together in the Shell Cottage, where Alec and Olivia spent their wedding night, and that they bought after he became a best – selling authors of crime, and this year, albeit reluctantly, they are going to Shell Cottage for their holidays as well. But this time it’s a little different – they discover Alec’s biggest secret, that is going maybe not to change their lives, but to change their perspectives for sure. Also, all of the family members has their own problems, demons and – yes, secrets! What is going to happen with their lovely holidays? And are they going to come to terms with all the mysteries?

Ah Lucy, lovely Lucy, she did it again! She wrote a real corker of a book that I couldn’t put down, that has me hooked already after the first few pages! Let’s start the gushing with the characters – realistic, vivid, jumping out of the pages characters that feel like real people and that I loved wholeheartedly.
Out of the three women I think it is Olivia that we don’t know so well. Mostly she was in the shade of her husband, even after his death, and I truly, truly adored how she was coming to terms with the truth that she’s just learnt. Of course the lovely Gloria has here big merits, there wouldn’t be the new Olivia without Gloria, so thank you so much Gloria, and hats of to you, because I much more liked this new Olivia. She was full of life and spirit and plucked up the courage to do things that she would never even considered before. So yes, I’d much preferred Olivia after Alec’s death – sorry Alec. She was like this proverbial Phoenix rising from the ashes and she proved that it’s never too late to do things you’ve never imagined to do before.
Freya was the one, I think, that the story focused on mostly. She’s a GP, the one that all the others consider to have life under control, the one that can organise everything and help everybody. But for sure they don’t think that she can loose it one day – or can she? Making a mistake during examination of a little baby, not being able to go through a day without the comfortable feeling of alcohol going down her throat, snapping at children… You know, I think she must have really been a strong woman because she was able to come to her senses in time and get a grip, again without no – one’s help. She strikes me to be the one that all other can go to with their problems but she can’t do this, she has nobody like this in her surrounding and this is why she lost it. This journey from drinking to non – drinking was maybe a little too fast and too fairy – tale like, but on the other hand, if there was one person who could overcome her own problems, it was Freya.
And last but not least, Harriet. I think I liked her the most, although I adored all three women in this story, but Harriet seemed just to be closest to my heart. Really no particular reason why, maybe because she worked at school? Maybe because she was so great as a mother? I don’t know, but I have liked her from start to finish and rooted for her. Yes, she might have been a little naive but I think it is normal that we don’t want to think the worst and try to find excuses. But also she could be like a fury, thunder and storm in one person – but it was totally understandable that she reacted this way once or twice.

This is a little different to all the other stories about girls – power, women getting to know each other and then changing their lives for better, because in fact those women already knew each other, but it also seems that in this every – day reality they lost touch and well, this summer it was as if they were getting to know each other again, afresh, as if they were starting again.

But this time Lucy also scrutinizes male characters, especially Victor and Robert, and proves that she can write not only about girls. She has brilliantly show the nature of Robert and described him really vividly and realistically, all his feelings, and I really felt sorry for him. But it is again a case of lack of communication – while he was thinking his parents never appreciated him, that his family saw him as a failure and the second – best, it turned out that it wasn’t true – so yes, please, let’s speak with our beloved ones and tell them how much we appreciate and love them!

Also, there were some chapters told from the children’s point of view, and I couldn’t stop admiring how quickly and how easily the author changed her perspective and how brilliantly she could change her voice into those of children. Those chapters were truly told as if from a child or teenager’s perspective, and they wonderfully captured their voice, their feelings, their reflections. I specially adored Milly’s parts in the book, as they touched some really important issues, and when it came to THIS meeting I could feel my eyes widen and felt my mouth doing a very round and big „O” – such big surprise was this twist for me.

Yes, there are some secrets in the books and some mysteries to be solved, and maybe they are not some world – changing or jaw – dropping secrets, but I think this is the magic of Lucy’s books – she writes about normal people and normal situations, all the things that we can relate to. The characters are not perfect, they make stupid mistakes and in my eyes this is what make them the most perfect characters for the book.

Now, you know, this story starts slowly, and it continues slowly. There is no galloping through the pages because the pace is so quick, no, it takes you on a very comfortable, unhurried, calm trip together with the characters, and from time to time the author does BANG, BANG, BANG and drops a bomb on your poor, expecting nothing like this head. No, it also doesn’t happen often, and no, there are not as many secrets as I have expected, but you know what? I liked it. I absolutely adored this slow tempo, with only few twists – they were so unexpected, they took me totally by surprise and there were those kind of secrets that I haven’t expected. And you don’t always want to rush through the pages only to know how the story is going to end, right? From time to time it’s so good to read such a gem of a book, where everything is on a right place, where everything is beautifully wrapped up and when everything ends with a happy end.

Well, I guess some may say this book is like a fairy – tale, with all the problems solved and people forgiving each other, but oh my, why not? It is actually how the problems are going to be solved that is so significant in the book, and why the characters put themselves into those troubles. I personally loved this book. It – again – deals with some important things in life and is written in this lovely, Lucy Diamond’s writing style, that is gentle when it should be gentle, that is funny when it should be funny. I got everything what I wished from this story and even more. Lucy can write larger then life, down – to – earth, wonderfully portrayed and developed characters, her stories make sense, she always adds the most stunning setting and spoils us with wonderful, vivid, colourful descriptions, and her plots have always interesting twists and turns. It’s no wonder then that I am already waiting for her next book, no?

 
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