Review: Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond

Wednesday 3 June 2015
Title: Summer at Shell Cottage
Author: Lucy Diamond
Publisher: Pan
Publication Date: 4th June 2015
Pages: 350
ISBN: 9781447257806
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
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...

Lucy Diamond only released the brilliant The Year of Taking Chances at the beginning of 2015 and here she is again with Summer at Shell Cottage which was another wonderful, and eventful, story. Shell Cottage is the Devon holiday home of the Tarrant family headed up by Olivia and Alec. Alec recently passed away and Olivia is struggling to move on, reluctant to return to the cottage this year because she can't envisage enjoying a holiday there without Alec. With a little help from son Robert she sets off down to Devon, and her arrival at the cottage finds her making an earth-shattering discovery. I loved picturing the Devon setting, Lucy Diamond always captures settings beautifully and it was the perfect setting for the family to attempt to deal with their issues.

What stands out for me in Lucy Diamond's books, especially this time around with Summer at Shell Cottage is that the characters are so far away from my own life; I'm not married, I don't have kids or a successful, high-powered job but I quickly found myself understanding and liking (and sometimes disliking) the characters that Lucy introduces us to because they all face real problems. Problems that no amount of money or success can ever prevent and two characters that we meet are Freya and Robert, Olivia and Alec's children. I think an author that can captivate somebody who isn't the target audience in the way that Lucy Diamond does with me is a very talented writer indeed and it is the reason she is becoming a favourite of mine.

Freya is a doctor experiencing a little bit of a crisis at work and so a relaxing holiday is just what she needs. With out of control children and a busy husband, Freya finds solace in alcohol, finding herself reminiscing about when she was young with a carefree lifestyle, and when she first met husband Victor. I wouldn't say she was my favourite character in the book, but her journey was an enjoyable one and by the end of the story it was nice to witness the changes that she had been through. It all felt very believable. A realistic portrayal of a marriage and life as a busy mother. Robert is married to Harriet who has been hurt in the past by a philandering husband so when she catches Robert out lying multiple times, her suspicions lead her to just one conclusion. Robert was perhaps the character I could relate to the most if I had to choose, and his secret isn't another jaw-dropper but rather real feelings that many people probably feel when they become adults.

Olivia's journey in the story was probably the biggest highlight for me. Watching her having to cope not only with the bombshell she receives arriving at the cottage but at the same time having to deal with the problems that her family members are all facing upon their arrival at the cottage. I especially loved the relationship that she had with her granddaughter, which gave the book some lovely and touching scenes and a new friendship that she forges with the flamboyant and unforgiving Gloria. Olivia's is almost a journey of self-discovery, becoming a changed woman - for the better - by the end of the story. I have to say I felt she may have been a little too forgiving in places but Olivia and the family have so much to contend with that at times it is easy to think about what you might do in their situation, but impossible to know how you would actually react and that's great because it is a thought-provoking book in places because of that.

Summer at Shell Cottage is another winner from Lucy Diamond, with a story and characters that won't disappoint returning readers or those who are new to Lucy's work. I especially enjoy the latter half of her stories when everything starts to come together and the conclusion to this story was a particularly enjoyable one. Lucy Diamond is quickly becoming an author whose books I simply cannot wait to read, so I am excited to see what she writes next.


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