Thursday, 11 June 2015

Book review: Summer at Shell Cottage


"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 . . ."

My Review: 

I am a HUGE fan of Lucy Diamond and have been eagerly awaiting this new release so I'm happy to say it didn't disappoint at all and is another brilliant story from one of my favourite writers.

The story follows the Tarrant family during their annual family holiday to Shell Cottage in Devon.  As usual, Lucy manages to create intriguing separate story lines for all the different characters, but also link them all seamlessly together. 

Olivia is dreading returning to Shell Cottage for the first time since her husbands death. Usually the summer trips are full of laughter and fun, but this time there will be a big empty gap where Alec used to be. However, she soon discovers a big secret her husband had kept from her for years, which adds a whole new dimension to her grief and how she spends her holiday.  Then there's her daughter Freya, who has turned to alcohol as she struggles to deal with her fathers death, a huge mistake at work and an ever-distant husband. In complete contrast, everything in Heather's world is, apparently, running smoothly (minus a flakey ex who barely sees their teenage daughter, Molly) her husband Robert has  just signed a massive book deal, following in his famous late-fathers writing footsteps. However, her perfect world starts to unravel and she realises all is not as it seems... 

The large Tarrant family mean that this book is crammed with loads of characters but each one brings something extra to the table. One of my favourites was Olivia, who goes on a really emotional journey and I found it so interesting to see how she coped. Sadness, anger, happiness, loss - all these emotions play a huge part of her story and really reflect the different stages of grief. I absolutely loved it when she befriended her new cleaner Gloria, as she is absolutely hilarious! Somewhat more wild than prim and proper Olivia, Gloria really brings out the reckless side of Olivia - soon she's skinny dipping, smoking and even contemplating a tattoo. 

One of the story lines I also really enjoyed was Molly's, Heather's daughter. I don't want to spoil anything, but there is a huge twist of events with that story that had me gasping in shock as I really hadn't guessed it. Lucy accurately portrays a mother and teenage daughter relationship with Molly and Heather - you can tell Molly is trying to be cool and is quite embarrassed by her mum sometimes but, really, nothing beats the safety of a cuddle with your mum. 

What I loved about this story is there's a lot going on, but it's not hard to keep up at all and isn't overly complicated. I was worried that as there are so many characters the story could have been in danger of going too far and resembling your favourite soap. However Lucy (as usual) finds the perfect balance between dramatic story lines and a leisurely read, meaning that even when all the events combine they don't seem too far fetched and are actually pivotal parts of the story. 

Lucy's books are always so absorbing and transport you to another world. The location in this story is wonderful, set at the sunny Devon seaside, I could practically feel the sea breeze tickling my shoulders and the sun bouncing down on my skin and eating wonderful food to accompany the good weather. 

Full of sunshine, secrets and splendid characters,  Summer at Shell Cottage is a fantastic read that I really, really enjoyed. If you love Lucy Diamond already, this lives up to expectation and if, for some reason you haven't read anything by her before, go buy this now! go! (and then stock up with her back catalogue while you're at it!) 

I've decided to start a rating system for my reviews, as it makes it easier to distinguish my feelings of a book. I'm delighted that the first review I'm doing scores top points - 5 Yorkshire roses go to this wonderful story. 

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