Thursday, 22 January 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond

January always feels fresh and new; a brand new year, full of new goals and promises. When midnight arrives, when you leave December behind and leap into the very first minutes of the first day of the new year, people the world over are clinking glasses and making their annual resolutions. And admittedly, even if some of them don't last more than a few days (of course you'll get round to training for that marathon. Once you've watched all of Breaking Bad), making them is still habitual fun.

So when I heard about The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond (author of many novels including Sweet Temptation, The Beach Cafe and One Night in Italy, I was quite excited. In her new book, Lucy explores the new-year theme, with the setting of a small Suffolk village and with three women who are about to experience a new year full of unexpected changes.

Gemma Bailey and her husband Spencer are hosting a New Year's Eve party at their house. Among the drinking, dancing friends and familiar faces are two newcomers; Saffron, a PR executive from London who's renting the cottage next door, and Caitlin, who is in the village to pack up the house and of her recently-deceased mother. When the three meet and get to know each other over some cocktails and fortune cookies, they promise to make this year the best year yet.

However, things are about to change in the lives of Gemma, Saffron and Caitlin. When sport-loving Spencer is injured in a work accident, Gemma's life is turned upside down. Not only are the bills quickly mounting up, but Spencer isn't the same person he used to be. And the children, Will and Darcy, are finding the changes hard to deal with. With little money and an unhappy husband, she has to find a way to keep the family afloat.

Meanwhile, Caitlin is still trying to pick up the pieces of her broken relationship, and the death of her mother. Having to go through her mother's things is a task she finds hard to bear. But when she unearths a big family secret, life comes crashing down yet again.

And Saffron, who had rented the cottage for some peace and quiet away from the busy London atmosphere, is also keeping something from her family and friends. And overbearing boss and a client from hell to contend with certainly don’t make things easy for Saffron, who escapes to the village once again to determine her next move.

When the three women find themselves again reunited in Suffolk, it’s time to make changes and finally take some chances.

Due to its premise, The Year of Taking Chances was very appealing to me. It was a book I particularly looked forward to reading, and it didn't disappoint. Each of the women had their own story, and it was easy to get into the lives of Gemma, Saffron and Caitlin, and how they each help one another throughout the novel (though I'm trying not to give too much away!) Each chapter focuses on a different character, which made it so much fun to read (and so difficult to stop). Gemma, Saffron and Caitlin each have their own journey to make throughout the year, and I felt myself rooting for all of them throughout the book. Each of the girls are easily likeable; Gemma, who's worried that she's seen as 'just a mum', web designer Caitlin, who's having a difficult time with the loss of her mum and the end of her relationship, and Saffron, PR girl from the city, who's also having a tough time. Each girl has her own dilemma, and a host of characters too (including Saffron's irritating TV star client). This is a wonderful novel, and quite possibly my favourite of Lucy Diamond's books so far. It's the perfect new-year read!

Rating: 5/5

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