I've read most of Lucy Diamond's books now, the pen-name of author Sue Mongredien, and enjoyed pretty much all of them. I found her last novel, The Beach Café, a little bit of a long read, so I was keen to read Summer With My Sister to see if it would be another fab read that I know Diamond can write. The cover to this one is so pretty, with the lovely white background being decorated with the small images around the side, and looks like a cute and kitsch summer read. It's a fairly sizeable novel, but I found once I got into reading it, the pages flew past and I enjoyed every single one of them, and was sad when it ended because I'd really grown to love the sisters Polly and Clare!
The book begins by introducing us to the life of high-flyer Polly. She's moved away from the small village she grew up in, and now lives in a flash London apartment, gets paid a lot of money to work in the financial sector, and loves to live her life to the full - she's not afraid to splash her cash either. So when she is suddenly made redundant without warning, Polly feels life crumbling around her, and is forced to return home to live with her parents. Sister Clare, a divorcee and mother of two makes ends meet by working as a doctor's receptionist, and making homemade gifts for her friends and family. When her successful sister is suddenly back in her life, Clare becomes resentful of Polly's attitudes, and the women fail to get along. But they are both hiding guilt over something that happened in their pasts. Will they get past it to finally realise the importance of their sister?
There was something about this book I just loved. I loved that there weren't too many characters to get confused with, I loved that the book had a point and got to it straight away re Polly and Clare not getting along as sister's, and I loved the development of the story as it went on. I found Diamond's writing was easy to read and enjoyable, and really brought the characters to life with ease. Polly was a bit of stuck-up snob at the beginning of the book, and as we aren't immediately told why, it's difficult to be sympathetic towards her in any way. I found Diamond's descriptions of Polly and her lifestyle really good, and made it vivid in my mind. It was hard to feel sorry for her, even when her life started crumbling, but something bout her made me like her in a small way.
Clare was the character I could really relate to - a single mum working hard to do her best for her family. She's bogged down with everyone else's perceptions of her and when an opportunity arises that could change her life, she's reluctant as she doesn't have the confidence. Also, she's resentful of Polly returning and acting like the world owes her a favour, and you can really sense that resentment through Diamond's writing. Both of these female characters seemed so realistic, and were both strong females who carried the book easily. The way Diamond progresses their relationships, both with each other and with the new respective males in their lives, was enjoyable, and I really loved the whole book, I couldn't put it down. The whole thing just felt very believable as I was reading, and I was really praying for a happy ending for the women!
This is a book I highly recommend for summer reading - it's a great read with lovely characters that will have you wanting happiness for both of them, especially as secrets are revealed during the book that are both shocking and heart-breaking - I was actually shocked when it was revealed as I hadn't expected it at all. The sisters, Polly and Clare were great characters, each with their own problems and resentful of each other's lifestyles without realising it. The book makes you realise the importance of families and siblings, and sticking together when you most need it. I loved every page, and this is most definitely Diamond's best book yet.
You can buy Summer With My Sister as a paperback or an eBook now.