In brief: In a group of flats in Brighton, a number of women are looking for a new beginning. Will they find it in Brighton with the courage to strike on their own?
The good: All the characters are delightful and interesting and I wanted to read more about them all!
The not-so-good: I feel a bit lonely now I’m away from the house at 11 Dukes Square.
Why I chose it: Always meaning to read a Lucy Diamond book but never quite getting there until now, thank you Pan Macmillan.
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Setting: Brighton, England
My rating: 8.5 out of 10
Lucy Diamond’s books have always sounded like something I’d like to read but I’ve never gotten around to it. Until now. (I seem to be doing well in 2017 in reading authors I’d always meant to!) Perfect for fans of Cathy Kelly and Jill Mansell (two authors I enjoy), The House of New Beginnings is a story full of warmth, heartache and ultimately joy. It’s a fantastic beach read or one to cosy up on the couch with as it’s not a demanding read, but one that will envelope you in the world of 11 Dukes Square. I finished this book several days ago and I’ve missed the characters since then!
There are several main characters in the story, all residents of the same building near the seafront in Brighton. All are fairly recent arrivals to Brighton from different parts of England and all are coping with a great deal of change in their lives. Georgie was my favourite character (she’s young but a determined optimist) who has moved to Brighton with her boyfriend for his new job. She has a plan to get a job as a journalist and she won’t take no for an answer, even if it means going to a roller disco 80s evening! Rosa had a high flying job but left London after a breakup of epic proportions. She’s turned her hand to working as a chef (cooking is her passion) but cutting up pumpkin isn’t that thrilling. Will she branch out to achieve her dream? And finally, Charlotte has gone through heartbreak and is just trying to fill her days to get through them. Can elderly resident Margot help her to see the sunshine as Charlotte does weekly chores for her?
The journey of these women from heartbreak to happiness was heart-warmingly lovely. Yes, there are sadder parts of the narrative but they are balanced out nicely with the hilarious and cringe worthy but funny. (Let’s just say that I wouldn’t mind doing a few chores for Margot!) Lucy Diamond handles each woman’s loss sensitively and compassionately, so much so that I really felt for Charlotte. For Rosa, I just wanted to give Max a piece of my mind! (Although the revenge in the book is 100% brilliant, it nails what we know of Max’s foibles). The characters are also incredibly realistic, they could in fact be your neighbours, mates or colleagues. I think that’s what made The House of New Beginnings stick with me, what did happen to the characters could happen to anybody. They didn’t have any extraordinary powers, money or fame – they were everyday people, dealing with everyday things. But don’t think that the story is boring, because it isn’t. The writing sparkles and the characters make their life interesting (with a little bit of help from the town of Brighton, which seems to have some nice cafes and quirky nightlife). The minor characters, such as Gareth, Paul and the women at the refuge are also every day people, but with a unique or memorable trait. (Particularly Paul. His big reveal as the landlady’s son at the end is hysterically funny).
So if you’re looking for a book that will effortlessly engage you, do give The House of New Beginnings a go. It’s fun and uplifting, a treat of a story.