Monday, October 2, 2017

Books by Lucy Dillon

I’ve discovered a new author that I’m really enjoying. Lucy Dillon writes modern fiction, somewhat lighter than some of my usual choices, so I’d personally classify it as more holiday reading – that enjoyable type of book that takes a few days to read, you get drawn into the character’s lives and relish the satisfying ending.

All I Ever Wanted is from the perspective of two sisters-in-law. Caitlin and Patrick are separating, for the personality traits that once so attracted them to each other are now driving them apart. Their four-year-old Nancy is changing from a gregarious, outspoken, chatty little thing to becoming increasingly quiet and withdrawn. Her older brother Joel can draw her out at times, but her absolute silence is becoming an increasing problem.

Meanwhile Eva, Patrick’s sister, two years widowed to an older rock star, is trying to figure out what the rest of her life will look like. As Patrick searches for a suitable ‘weekend visit’ location, it seems ideal to stay at Eva’s with the kids. But Eva has never had kids, will she want them around?

Over a few months Caitlin and Eva are both forced to face different realities about their marriages, and decide how they will respond. I liked it, they are engaging, realistic characters, with a depth to their story.

A Hundred Pieces of Me narrates Gina’s life through various objects of meaning. Reeling from her recent divorce and astounded by how many things she has, Gina is forced to finally sort through all her possessions. Deciding to only keep 100 things that really matter, we see how her life has unfolded to date through the lens of various objects. The story flicks between present day and her job of managing the restoration of an old manor house; to her relationship with her ex-husband Stuart and its development; her battle with cancer; her childhood and twice-widowed mother, and her first real love and relationship with Kit. I found it had similar style echoes to The Time Traveller’s Wife, with moves in the chronology filling the gaps as the novel unfolded. I wondered too if it was going to be a fiction version of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying and there are elements of that philosophy as well: that organising your life will make you happy. I didn’t find the ending to be quite what I was after, but it was a good read and made you think again about the things that you really value, and why.

One Small Act of Kindness starts with Libby and Jason who have moved to Longhampton to take over their parents B&B, a decision sparked by the death of Jason’s dad and their need for a fresh start from London. One day a young woman is hit by a car outside the hotel, and wakes up in hospital with no memory of her past and apparently no one is searching for her. A friendship sparks between Libby and Pippa (the name she chooses for the moment), with Libby keen to aid Pippa find out who she is, and Pippa assisting as the hotel renovation plans turn to dust.

With Libby’s tricky extended family relationships to manage, the slow revealing of Pippa’s life story, and the surprise to both of them that there are good people around who want to help other; both Libby and Pippa come to discover they have more strength, resilience and purpose than they thought.

The Ballroom Class charts the lives of a disparate group of people through their ballroom dancing class. Ross and Katie are making one last ditch effort to save their marriage. Lauren and Chris are trying to perfect their wedding dance, all the while uncertain they are really on the right track. Lauren’s parents are there as support, seemingly perfect in their relationship, but is Bridget hiding something from Frank? At the same time, teacher Angelica is sorting through her past as she watches each of her students and reflects on he own life

Dillon is clearly a dog lover and some of her novels have dogs strongly featuring, so if that appeals to you, there’s another level of interest.

I’ll keep an eye out for new releases from Dillon. I enjoyed her writing style and the characters she develops.

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