The House of New Beginnings by Lucy Diamond

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.

Year: 2017

Pages: 470

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.

Mailbox Monday and What I’m Reading 23/1/17

So this week I celebrated summer by getting a shocker of a cold…but it did mean that I could huddle under blankets and read. Lucky that this week I have to share with you my birthday books as well as some that the postie kindly brought to the door. The top row are arrivals via the letterbox and the second row books I bought with my birthday vouchers.

I’m really excited about Pamela Hart’s A Letter From Italy as she’s one of my favourite writers for relatable Australian historical fiction. This book is inspired by the true story of Louise Mack, Australia’s first female war correspondent during World War I. Rebecca has followed her husband to the battlefields in Europe as a war correspondent in Italy. She’s working with Alessandro Panucci, and soon she has a battlefield of her own – the human heart. The book is released on March 14, thanks to Hachette for the ARC.

I read an article about Penelope Janu recently and immediately added her romantic comedy debut, In at the Deep End to my wish list. The book has it all – a female explorer in Harriet, whose ship sinks in Antarctica. Unfortunately, she’s rescued by Commander Per Amundsen, real life action hero and part of the Norwegian navy. It’s not love, nor like at first sight but the pair have to cooperate and face their fears in order to get what they want. Many thanks to Harlequin for reading my mind and sending the ARC! The book will be out in February.

I’ve never read Lucy Diamond, so when I was offered the chance to read and review her latest book, The House of New Beginnings, I thought I should seize the opportunity (thanks Pan Macmillan!). Out at the end of the month, the story revolves around the occupants of 11 Dukes Square, Brighton. Rosa has fled from London to a menial job, but will others challenge her to spread her wings? Georgie has a new career after following her childhood sweetheart to town, but it doesn’t take long for her to get into trouble. Charlotte is plodding along after a loss, but Margot is determined for her to return to the outside world. They say new house, new beginnings and it’s certainly true for these ladies.

I decided to give Nell Zink another go after the intriguing strangeness that was Nicotine. The Wallcreeper comes highly recommended, a novella of the highs and lows of marriage (with some birds involved it seems).

Food Whore by Jessica Tom sounded intriguing, not least because Jessica is a food blogger and writer herself. It’s the story of Tia, who ghost-writes restaurant reviews for a legendary food critic. But he gets the glory and she gets the food – is this what she truly wants?

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub has been on my wish list for some time, so I decided a birthday is a good time to indulge. It’s about three college friends, now grown up and living in the same neighbourhood. But now their children are teenagers and with all those troubles, their adult lives seem to unravel as the truth comes out.

If you want to look at other books received, do visit the Mailbox Monday blog for links to everyone’s mailbox goodies.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Book Date. Click on the pictures to read more about the books.

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