Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond

Summer would never be the same again.


Title - Summer at Shell Cottage
Author - Lucy Diamond
Publication Date - June 4th 2015 
Publisher - Pan
Format - Paperback (Provided via publisher)
Pages - 462

The blurb

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...

Becca's thoughts

Nobody does it quite like Lucy Diamond!

Before I begin my review of Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond, I'd like to thank the wonderful Pan for providing me with a beautiful paperback proof copy of Lucy's latest novel. There really is nothing more delightful than holding an actual, physical book in your hands, especially when that book has been written by an author whose work you adore, and even more so when the cover is as beautiful as this one. So, thank you Pan!

 I haven't read many of Diamond's novels, referring specifically to Lucy's earlier titles but I have, in fact, lapped up the delights of One Night in Italy and The Year of Taking Chances, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed, so when I became aware of Summer at Shell Cottage, I really couldn't wait to disappear within the pages. I suppose, in a way, it's a slightly bad habit to automatically assume that you're going to love a new novel by an author that you have previously enjoyed. After all, how can you be certain that their new instalment will have the same effect on you as did the last? Well, that's one of the many reasons why I enjoy Diamond's novels so much. Lucy's uniquely warm, engaging and wholly satisfying way of storytelling reels me in each and every time, and I'm thrilled to say that, out of the three that I have read, Summer at Shell Cottage has just got to be my ultimate favourite. So far...

In a nutshell, Summer at Shell Cottage focuses on the Tarrant family as they embark upon yet another glorious summer holiday down in Devon. After having previously created many happy family memories during time spent there in summers gone by, the family are looking forward to another sun-drenched holiday in their much-loved Shell Cottage, as was I! Until of course, Lucy begins to reveal snippets of detail from each family members' life, and it suddenly dawns on the reader that, actually, things are never as perfect as they first appear to be (besides Shell Cottage itself, that place was pretty perfect, to be fair). Throughout this sparkling summer read that whisked me right away to the Tarrant family's side, Lucy takes us on a riveting, heart-warming journey, dipping in and out of the intricacies of the Tarrant family's life and all of the spaces in-between, including the messy, unpredictable, bumpy tracks that family life usually ends up veering down when we least expect it.

I adore Lucy's writing style, there's something so very charming, welcoming and utterly magical about it even when, as she does many times throughout this gorgeous novel, serious issues are raised and dealt with. I find it incredibly easy to lose myself in Lucy's stories, so easy to become wrapped up within her characters' lives and troubles, ultimately leaving me worrying about them too, which is always a good sign. After all, if you don't care about these characters, then what's compelling you to continue reading, right? Thankfully, this wasn't a problem at any point throughout this book. 

Lucy's characters within Summer at Shell Cottage were absolutely brilliant, working fantastically as a collection but even more so in their singular circumstances which were what truly hooked me in, allowing me a sneaky insight into each of their lives, before even their own family members were aware, which was strangely satisfying. Not only did I enjoy the Tarrant family as a whole, but spending time with each of characters on their own made me feel just that much closer to them as a character in the book. This family was dissected and opened up to me in its truest form and Lucy didn't hold back when it came to the imperfections, which only made me love the Tarrants even more, because Lucy is right. No family is perfect and even if they appear to be on the surface, there is usually more going on underneath that we have absolutely no idea about. From Olivia, the eldest of the Tarrant women, to young Libby, who I absolutely adored and wanted to squish in a hug, these characters were flawed and cracked and stained. There was just so much going on within the perfect image of Shell Cottage, I could imagine a bystander looking upon the place and thinking how pretty it looked on the surface yet having no idea whatsoever of the chaos taking place within. It's amazing how appearances can be so deceiving, and Lucy explores that so beautifully within this novel, as well as alcohol dependency, dangerous teenage love and deceiving tales. Again, as I mentioned, you wouldn't think, when looking upon Lucy's cover, that anything so serious would be included, yet many topics are dealt with as the story progresses, topics that you wouldn't quite imagine to crop up, which make this novel all the more intriguing. In the end, each character learns a very important and valuable lesson, which makes for a deliciously satisfying ending.

Of course, I don't think this novel would be quite the same without the setting of Devon, full of hidden beaches, lobster burgers and sand-castles. It truly is a summery read that escapism completely defines. I had an overwhelming urge to run off to Devon, to set up camp in Shell Cottage and spend a summer there, dozing and strolling the hours away. It was charming in every aspect and had that lazy quality about it that I so love when reading a summer story. There was this distinct feeling of getting away from everyday life and the usual worries, but at the same time, it appeared that the Tarrant family's worries followed them there. Still, it was dreamlike and a little bit like paradise, and definitely had an effect over the characters, myself included. Lucy's descriptions of Shell Cottage and the Devon scenery were spot-on and the image in my mind swiftly built a whole new world for me to escape into and explore alongside the family.

All in all, Summer at Shell Cottage by the magnificent Lucy Diamond was a pure joy to lose myself within. I loved every single tiny aspect of this story and felt compelled to pick it up at every spare moment. This is definitely one of my favourite summer reads of 2015, perhaps even number one. Family life, lessons learnt and sun, sea and sand all rolled into one make for an absolutely gorgeous read beneath the sun, I can promise you that.

Becca's Books is awarding Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond with FIVE SCRUMMY CUPCAKES. I'm so grateful that Lucy's books are out there in the world. I'd even go as far as saying I feel comforted just to know that we still have lots more to come from this author, and previous books that I can still catch up on. Just sensational!





        







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